AMD – Out of the Blue & Into the Black

For the first time in some time, the folks at AMD can celebrate, and take a small breath. The company is reporting a profit for 4th quarter 2009.

It took some doing, a bit of luck, and a judgement from the courts, but the company was close to black before any judgement anyway. ComputerWorld gives the specifics -

Advanced Micro Devices reached profitability for the first time in three years during the fourth quarter of 2009, benefiting from a legal settlement with Intel and a change in its business model, the company said Thursday.

The company reported net income of $1.18 billion during the quarter that ended Dec. 26, an improvement over the loss of $1.44 billion it reported in the fourth quarter of 2008. The company reported diluted earnings per share of $1.52.

AMD reported revenue of $1.65 billion for the fourth quarter, a gain of 42% compared to the same period last year. The revenue beat estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who expected revenue of $1.5 billion.

Revenue was driven by a healthy holiday sales period for PCs using its chips and increased demand for its Radeon graphics cards, AMD said. The $1.25 billion Intel paid AMD in November to settle a lawsuit also helped. AMD had accused Intel of offering rebates that kept AMD from making deals with PC makers.

Microprocessor revenue during the quarter was $1.2 billion, up 14% compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Graphics segment revenue was $427 million, up 40%.

If TSMC had been cooperating, the graphics segment would have been much higher, and lots more 4xxx Radeon cards would have been sold (especially pairs of 4770s!)

“AMD’s quarter marks another milestone in our transformation and underscores our growing momentum,” said AMD CEO and President Dirk Meyer in a statement.

AMD suffered three years of consecutive losses as it failed to launch chips as scheduled and, more recently, because of lower chip sales during the recession. The company also took billions of dollars in charges related to the acquisition of graphics firm ATI in 2007.

In an effort to turn things around, AMD divested assets, cut staff and re-established itself as a chip design firm by spinning off its debt-heavy manufacturing facilities to a separate entity now known as GlobalFoundries. AMD remains a minority shareholder in GlobalFoundries.

While things are not completely rosy for AMD, they are clearly looking up. Once again, they are offering the top performance in graphics, and offering great performance for the dollar in CPUs. There has not been any news about new chips, but undoubtedly the people at AMD have some new designs on the drawing board. The newest motherboard chipsets are out there, and it will be nice to see some great new designs to fill the sockets.

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When you come to a fork in the road…take it.
–Yogi Berra
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