Chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. posted strong fourth-quarter and year-end numbers and stole more market share from industry leader Intel Corp.
The fourth-quarter 2005 numbers show a momentum in the marketplace that AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., has built up over the past two years, and contrasted sharply with the relatively disappointing earnings figures that Intel announced Tuesday.
President and CEO Hector Ruiz, in a conference call with analysts, said that AMD saw market share either grow or stay level in the server, mobile and desktop markets, and predicted that its Opteron chip will continue to take share in the first quarter.
“We begin 2006 with more momentum, and higher-quality momentum, than in any time in our history,” Ruiz said.
The net profit for the quarter was $95.6 million. The company lost $30 million during the same quarter last year.
Revenue rose 45 percent from that previous quarter, to $1.84 billion.
Ruiz said he expects the share gains to continue into 2006.
The company used the strength of Opteron to gain entrance into the highly competitive enterprise space, and will use that leverage as it focuses on the commercial client business going into 2006, focusing on both Athlon 64 and the mobile Turion 64 chip business.
According to Mercury Research Inc., of Cave Creek, Ariz., AMD saw its share of the x86 market grow to 17.8 percent in the third quarter, up from 16.2 percent in the second quarter. Its server share grew as well, to 12.7 percent, compared with 11.2 percent in the previous quarter.
Henri Richard, AMDs chief sales and marketing officer, said the company is still waiting for analyst reports for the fourth quarter, but he is confident that AMD made market gains in all sectors.
Ruiz said AMD expects to have 25 to 30 percent of the overall market by 2008 or 2009.
He and other executives also deflected questions regarding AMD inventory, which has been reported in recent weeks to be tight.
Ruiz said the low inventory was a product of good planning by AMD and its partners and that the company—particularly as its new Fab 36 in Dresden, Germany, begins to ramp—will have little problem meeting future demand.
They also said that the company is still on schedule for its move to a 65-nanometer manufacturing process in the second half of 2006.
Hitting Their Stride
Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight64, in Saratoga, Calif., said AMD has benefited from strong execution and stumbles by Intel over the past 18 to 24 months.
AMD was first out with 64-bit x86 chips with its Opteron and Athlon 64 processors in 2003, and with dual-core processors in 2005.
“Theyre really hitting their stride,” Brookwood said. “As we start the year, AMD clearly is ahead in terms of performance, in terms of power, in terms of performance-per-watt.”
In addition, sales of Opteron-based systems from Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc. began to ramp last year.
Initially there were a lot of pilot programs using those servers, but those pilots turned into full production developments in 2005 as businesses saw the advantages in performance and power efficiency that AMDs chips had over Intels.
“AMD going into 2006 clearly has a momentum that Intel lacks,” Brookwood said.
However, if Intel can execute on its roadmap, that gap could close, he said. If that happens, AMD can expect to see fewer defections from Intel users than it saw in 2005.
“It will be much more of a horse race [in 2006] between Intel and AMD on performance and power than it was in 2005,” Brookwood said.
AMD officials have said over the past few months that they expect to be able to keep the technological lead over Intel through 2006.
Both vendors are looking to increase the features offered on their chips this year in areas such as virtualization and security.
Intel reported Tuesday that supply problems of chip sets hampered its ability to get desktop chips into PCs, even though the Santa Clara, Calif., company saw record shipments of desktop, mobile and server processors.
Responding to an analysts question, Ruiz said those problems did not artificially bump up AMDs numbers.
“There seems to be production struggles with our competitor, but I dont think it impacted our quarter,” he said.
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