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Friday, January 15, 2010, 04:30 am PT (07:30 am ET)

Intel has blowout quarter as net income skyrockets 875%

Chip maker Intel far exceeded Wall Street expectations for its fourth financial quarter of 2009, earning $2.3 billion in net income good for a whopping 875 percent yearly increase.

The company, which provides processors for Apple's line of Mac computers, had total revenue of $10.6 billion, a 28 percent year-over-year increase. The company also recorded a record gross margin of 65 percent.

"Intel's strong 2009 results reflect our investment in industry-leading manufacturing and product innovation," said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO. "This strategy has enabled us to generate unprecedented operating efficiencies while growing our traditional businesses and creating exciting new market opportunities, even in difficult economic times."

Intel's 40 cents earnings per share is up 36 cents from 2008, and exceeded Wall Street expectations of 30 cents per share on revenue of $10.17 billion. Intel's results even include a $1.25 billion settlement paid to AMD in the last quarter.

"Our ability to weather this business cycle demonstrates that microprocessors are indispensable in our modern world," Otellini said. "Looking forward, we plan to deliver the benefits of computing to an expanding set of products, markets and customers."

Intel's strength was led by notebooks, and the booming success of Atom processor-powered netbooks added to the company's success. Earlier this week, quarterly PC sales revealed that worldwide fourth-quarter 2009 sales were up 15.2 percent. Mac sales also grew 31 percent in the U.S. to 1.5 million units during the holiday season.

Looking forward, Intel has projected $9.7 billion in revenue, plus or minus $400 million, with gross margin at 61 percent — guidance higher than what is expected on Wall Street.

Last week, Intel introduced its new line of processors for the start of 2010, including new Core i3, i5 and i7 chips. The mobile Core i5 is considered to be a likely candidate for a coming MacBook Pro refresh.

The new processors are set to improve upon the previous line of Intel's Core 2 Duo chips, which have been utilized in versions of Apple's new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac. Apple uses the mobile variants of Intel's desktop chips for those systems, meaning machines with chips based on the Arrandale architecture could arrive soon.

This week, an Intel promotion advertised a Core i5-based MacBook Pro, though the company later apologized and said the listing was a mistake.