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Intel Corp. (INTC - Analyst Report) is set to report fourth quarter 2012 results on January 17. Last quarter it posted a +20% positive surprise. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Growth Factors this Past Quarter

Intel primarily sells chips, which are used in notebooks, netbooks and desktop computers. The transition to tablets and mobile devices has led to lower PC sales, impacting the company’s results through 2012. The slow demand for PCs also impacted pricing, leading to weaker margins.

Despite the launch of Windows 8, PC sales fell 4.3% in the fourth quarter according to a very recent report from Gartner. The research firm attributed the decline to tablet cannibalization. We believe that the effect of weak PC demand on Intel sales will likely be long-lived.

However, with the changing dynamics, Intel is focusing on producing chips for mobile Internet applications, which we believe will account for most of Intel’s growth in the coming years. Also, the company’s focus on its fourth-generation core processors and the new processors which will be incorporated into the refreshed versions of Apple’s (AAPL - Analyst Report) MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, might bringa sigh of relief in the latter half of the year.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Intel is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank of #1, #2 or #3 for this to happen. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Negative Zacks ESP: The Most Accurate estimate stands at $0.44 while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is higher at $0.45. That is a difference of -2.22%.

Zacks Rank #3 (Hold): Intel’s Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) lowers the predictive power of ESP because the Zacks Rank #3 when combined with a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. We caution against stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and #5 (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other companies you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:  

About Earnings ESP

Would you like to own more stocks likely to beat their next earnings report? And avoid stocks likely to disappoint?

If yes, then it’s time you learn about the Earnings ESP score available on

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