Intel managed to top its own downwardly revised estimates in the third quarter, posting a profit of $3 billion, or $0.52 a share, on sales of $11.1 billion.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters pegged the Santa Clara, Calif.-based semiconductor giant for a profit of $0.50 on sales of $11 billion. However, that consensus estimate was dramatically revised after Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) in August issued a rare warning that sluggish PC demand in "mature markets" would clip third-quarter sales and profits.
Originally, Wall Street was predicting a profit of $0.53 a share on sales of $11.5 billion.
In the third quarter of 2009, Intel posted a profit of $1.86 billion, or 33 cents a share, on sales of $9.4 billion. The $11.1 billion in sales marks the first time the company has eclipsed the $11-billion threshold in a three-month span.
"These results were driven by solid demand from corporate customers, sales of our leadership products and continued growth in emerging markets," CEO Paul Otellini said in a statement. "Intel's third-quarter results set all-time records for revenue and operating income."
Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, Intel told analysts to expect sales of $11.4 billion, give or take $400 million, which puts the company in good position to top analysts' current forecast of a little more than $11.3 billion in the quarter.
"Looking forward, we continue to see healthy worldwide demand for computing products of all types, and are particularly excited about our next-generation processor, codenamed Sandy Bridge," Otellini added.
Last quarter, Intel easily hurdled analysts' estimates when it reported a profit of $2.9 billion, or $0.51 a share, on sales of $10.8 billion.
In the quarter, Intel said its PC group sales rose 3 percent from the second quarter to more than $8 billion, led by strong demand for mobile chips. Its data-center sales were also up 3 percent sequentially to $2.1 billion, while sales of its Atom microprocessor and chipsets fell 4 percent to $396 million.
The unusual profit warning came between a pair of massive merger announcements: its $7.7 billion purchase of security software vendor McAfee and its $1.4 billion splurge for Infineon's wireless chip unit.
Intel shares closed up $0.21 a share, or 1 percent, to $19.77 ahead of the earnings report before climbing another $0.20 a share in after-hours trading.