Intel’s First-Quarter Earnings Report: 4 Key Metrics to Pay Attention To

Intel’s (INTC) shares surged in January after the chip giant soundly beat Q4 estimates on the back of strong server CPU growth, and has added a bit to its gains since. That spells somewhat higher expectations ahead of Intel’s Q1 report, which arrives after Thursday’s close.

Intel’s Q1 FactSet consensus is for revenue of $15.07 billion (up 2% annually) and adjusted EPS of $0.72. Q2 and full-year guidance should be provided within the Q1 report; consensus is for Q2 revenue of $15.59 billion and EPS of $0.81, and for full-year revenue of $65.11 billion and EPS of $3.57.

Here are four key numbers to keep an eye on:

1. Data Center Group (DCG) revenue and metrics – With the help of a strong Xeon CPU upgrade cycle, DCG revenue — it covers server CPUs as well as other data center products — rose 20% in Q4. For Q1, consensus is for DCG sales to rise 15% to $4.86 billion.

Intel also breaks out the revenue growth rates seen for DCG sales to enterprise/government, cloud service provider and telecom service provider clients. Enterprise/government sales, which have been pressured by cloud adoption, rose a stronger-than-expected 11% in Q4, but Intel cautioned this growth wouldn’t last. Cloud and telecom sales, benefiting from strong secular trends, respectively rose 35% and 16%.

2. Client Computing Group (CCG) revenue and metrics – CCG revenue, which covers PC and mobile chip sales, fell 2% in Q4. Likewise, it’s expected to drop by 2% in Q1 to $7.81 billion. Q4 sales were hurt by an 8% drop in desktop revenue, which in turn stemmed partly from AMD’s (AMD) share gains. Notebook revenue was flat, and modem/adjacencies revenue (benefiting from iPhone modem sales) rose 15%. AMD was probably a headwind again in Q1, and iPhone order cuts may have also weighed. On the other hand, improving demand within the business PC market, where AMD’s share is relatively low, likely provided a boost.

3. Flash memory revenue – Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group saw revenue rise 9% in Q4. For Q1, consensus is for revenue to rise 10% to $953 million. A recent slide in NAND flash memory prices may have weighed on Q1 sales. But Intel has forecast its flash segment growth will improve over the course of 2018 as production of high-density 3D NAND flash chips ramps, and expects to get $2 billion worth of prepayments from memory clients this year.

4. The capex budget – In January, Intel set a 2018 capital spending budget of $13.5 billion to $14.5 billion, which was easily above 2017 capex of $11.8 billion. Will the budget be tweaked? Last week, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) , the world’s biggest chip foundry, upped its 2018 capex budget by $1 billion to a range of $11.5 billion to $12 billion.