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TDI signed a mobile-telephone contract with LG Information & Communications, South Korea, which in November introduced two new mobile phones that use the packs. As a result of that deal, the company is producing tens of thousands of lithium-polymer batteries per month. Thomas &Betts, Memphis, Tenn., expects to increase battery sales by roughly $20 million this year as a consequence of its efforts in the lithium-polymer arena.

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TDI signed a mobile-telephone contract with LG Information & Communications, South Korea, which in November introduced two new mobile phones that use the packs. As a result of that deal, the company is producing tens of thousands of lithium-polymer batteries per month. Thomas &Betts, Memphis, Tenn., expects to increase battery sales by roughly $20 million this year as a consequence of its efforts in the lithium-polymer arena.

According to Bryant, Intel fell short of meeting its own expectations in the sale of its own low-cost PC processor, the Celeron. That clearly means AMD has been successful in co-opting share,” said Charles Boucher, analyst with Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, San Francisco.

And that just might mean a pricing war in low-end PCs. One of us is going to end up with [excess] inventory,” Bryant said, who also said that he expects the average selling price of Intel's microprocessors to decline as well in the coming quarters.

0010844092_Datasheet PDF

Expenses during the fourth quarter were up 16%, higher than even the revised guidance Intel gave in November, when it predicted revenues would exceed its third-quarter expectations by about 8% to 10%. In part, that was due to higher than expected utilization of the Intel Inside” market incentive program that will continue to prompt U.S. retailers to place Intel-based machines back on their shelves.

If we don't have more success in the U.S. retail market than in the last 6 months I'll be very disappointed,” Otellini said.

The pricing declines will be matched by corresponding declines in gross margin percentage, but by reduced manufacturing costs as well. Gross margin percentage is expected to decline below the 58% Intel reported for the fourth quarter; with manufacturing redesigns, Intel's gross margins are now not affected by the number of PCBs, chip packages, and other third-party components Intel purchases, Bryant said.

0010844092_Datasheet PDF

Capital spending for 1999 is expected to drop to $3 billion, through improved manufacturing utilization and reduced spending on new facilities. Intel does not plan to purchase a new fab during 1999, as it did as part of the $4 billion the company spent during 1998, including the purchase of Digital Equipment Corp.'s manufacturing facilities.

Intel executives also answered questions about 1999's most potent wild card: the year 2000 problem. Intel's earnings will undoubtedly be affected by Y2K purchasing patterns, Otellini said. However, he did not know if purchasers would buy now, or wait until the last minute to upgrade their systems to Y2K-compliance.

0010844092_Datasheet PDF

Like the microprocessor business, sales of complementary chipsets and motherboards also increased, Intel reported. The company also noted upticks in shipments of flash memory, embedded microprocessors, and Ethernet switches.

In an effort to extend its e-commerce arm, Compaq Computer Corp. has agreed to acquire Shopping.com for $220 million, or $19 per share for all outstanding shares.

The comments were made as Intel introduced new Celeron chips running at 400 MHz and 366 MHz in a low-cost 370-pin PPGA package, first introduced in December. The new chips, and a corresponding round of price cuts, were countered by price reductions offered by Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Intel's chief competitor in the microprocessor business.

The concept of a free PC, probably subsidized through sales of Internet access services or through a leasing program like PC OEM Gateway 2000 Inc., has been bandied about since the days of Oracle Corp.'s network computer. Most recently, however, National Semiconductor Corp. chairman and chief executive Brian Halla predicted that by the fall of 1999, PC Internet access terminals would be provided by traditional brick-and-mortar retail firms.

The holy grail is to penetrate the other half of homes [without a PC],” Otellini said, who is executive vice-president of Intel's Architecture Business Group.

I think when you get down to — whether it's $299, or $399, or if it's free — elasticity will take hold,” Otellini said, prompting consumers to begin purchasing PCs. Although Otellini did not describe any any specific programs to design free” PCs, he said the company is now in a position to support those customers that do.

The discussion was also unusual, given that Intel typically reports gross margin percentages above 30% in its quarterly financial reports. However, its mainstream processor product lines are based upon processor cores that are virtually identical, whether they go into a workstation, server, desktop, or mobile PC.

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