Friday, December 09, 2005

45 and Counting.

That's how many headlines appear right now (9:16 p.m. Thursday night) on my Bloomberg regarding Intel's revenue guidance press release and conference call.

By Friday morning, this number will surely expand, what with the morning research commentary from Wall Street's Finest, as well as the CNBC-related talking-head piling on.

Precisely what earth-shaking, paradigm-shifting, time/space continuum-warping announcement did Intel make that merits such attention?

The company said, and I am quoting the headline of the press release itself: "Business Consistent with Expectations."

That's it.

The news was so bland, in fact, that the mid-point of the updated revenue guidance Intel announced last night ($10.5 billion) was exactly the same as the mid-point of the revenue guidance it replaced.

Is that really worth 45 headlines on the Bloomberg machine?

Yes, I know the drill: Wall Street was hopeful Intel would, in Street lingo, "raise guidance" and therefore give the traders and tape-readers who have been bidding up the stock in recent weeks on nothing more than the hope that Intel would "raise guidance" the ability to sell their stock at a profit.

And I know too that, as the saying used to apply to General Motors (see "McClellan Awaits Battle...In Detroit" below), what's good for Intel is good for technology--and therefore Intel's pronouncements about the state of its own business are taken as a barometer of the entire techno-food chain.

But I am reminded of our dog, a Jack Russell, and its most endearing feature.

By way of preface, this Jack Russell's least endearing feature is its complete inability to share space, food or attention with our aging mutt Lucy, not to mention the three cats that live in mortal terror of being caught by a dog whose miniscule brain is wired to do nothing more than hunt down and kill small, moving, long-tailed mammals.

Its most endearing feature, on the other hand, is far less lethal: this involves countless hours in the back yard, sniffing out and digging up pieces of slate from an old, long overgrown patio, and carrying those pieces of slate--which can be the size of Frisbees--in its mouth to some other part of the yard and burying them in a furious display of rapidly moving paws and flying dirt.

Days or weeks later, the Jack Russell will sniff out those very same pieces of buried slate and dig them up with great relish and immense satisfaction, as though they are priceless gifts unexpectedly bestowed upon it by the God of Dogs.

The net gain, of course, is zero: she is finding dirty pieces of rock that she herself buried.

But it makes her happy.

And I suppose this fascination with Intel--a company that for all practical purposes manufactures automobile engines--gives great comfort to those who enjoy speculating on whether a company will sound "upbeat" or "downbeat" or have "good body language" on the call.

But at the end of the day, Intel told us nothing we didn't already know: the computer business is doing okay, but AMD is taking market share and the company that really matters in this business is neither one.

It is Apple.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2005 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations.


Ed said...


SellToWhom said...

I remember a favorite Jack Russell that belinged to a girlfriend. The dog had the oddest habit of pulling and pushing pieces of firewood, trying to get to the center of the woodpile. Not sure what was so interesting in there, but the little dog was tenacious.

As for INTC, maybe Expediters Intl has the right policy towards financial news and updates. No calls, basic financials, and some of the best responses ever to the folks on the sell-side.

MD said...

And the silliest part of all this hoopla is that it's a mid-quarter update. Intel releases only the bare minimum of financial information.

Sun Micro started this silly process when George Reyes, former SUNW treasurer and now GOOG CFO, would do a mid-day conference call with some sell-side analysts to help tweak their models before the quarter ended. Folks noticed that this was stock moving, so the call was opened up to more people and moved after the close of trading. Sun eventually ended this nonsense when demand starting slowing and they missed consensus estimates despite the late-quarter tweaks.

Why Intel needs to update investors 8x times a year on its results is beyond me, especially considering the company hasn't shown any real growth in the last five years.

Andy said...

Fooled by Randomness :-)

The Value Guy said...

All i can say is...EXACTLY!!
You hit it on the head. Everything is about media hype and attempting to keep interest in the stock market. During last quarter's earning conference call, INTC mentioned that customers has "over ordered". That simply means to me that in the near future, INTC is going to have to cut guidance thanks to this channel stuffing. Ofcourse the media (especially CNBC and it's main media attraction) never mentioned this. Everything is about trying to extend the market rally as long as humanly possible (and generate a few ratings along the way).

Serenity said...

The funniest thing about this whole process was everyone thought Intel was going to raise guidance so the stock rallied in the preceding weeks, so much so that even the Wall Street Journal said there were expectations that Intel would raise... then the stock fell 2-3 days before the call. Then Intel didn't raise, the stock was down after hours and then in the next two days has rallied hard. Makes total sense right?