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Intel’s earnings suggest the PC market may finally have hit bottom

Here’s the good news in Intel’s just-released fourth quarter earnings: The hard times for the PC market, still the biggest consumer of the microchips Intel makes, may finally be over. While Intel’s earnings per share were down 11% year-over-year in 2013, they were up 6% this quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

In the words of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich: “We had a solid fourth quarter with signs of stabilization in the PC segment.”

There’s little going on here that we haven’t seen before; overall, Intel continues to shrink along with the PC industry it dominates. But the big question to date has been, will PC sales decline so precipitously that they prevent Intel from investing in more profitable areas, like the powerful chips that go into servers and comprise that “cloud” thing you may have heard of.

Some analysts are saying that Intel could also be huge in the internet of things, and while that’s true, it could be years, even a decade, before sales of the kind of cheap but plentiful chips that will power the internet of things make up a big chunk of Intel’s revenue. But this is a company that plans far ahead, so that may suit Intel’s investors just fine.

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