The computer chipmaker cited low demand in a shifting market.
SAN FRANCISCO - As the personal computer market stalled, Intel, the primary maker of computer chips, warned its investors Friday that revenue would be lower than expected, as would profit margins.
The company cited weak demand in what had been growing economies, like China.
What Intel sells to manufacturers like Hewlett-Packard and Dell in the third quarter of the year typically ends up on store shelves and office loading docks in the fourth quarter, inside desktop PCs, laptops and computer servers in data centers. If Intel feels pain now, it could signal that PC manufacturers are lowering their expectations for the holiday shopping season or are noticing that their business customers have become cautious.
The slowdown was not unexpected, however, and may not reflect broader economic troubles. The desktop computer market is forecast to shrink this year, as computing becomes a more mobile activity, via laptops, smartphones and tablet computers like Apple's iPad. Tablets use fewer Intel chips.
It was telling that Intel said demand for chips in data centers, which form the cloud-computing powerhouses to which mobile computers connect, was still strong.
Big manufacturers like HP, while coping with a lower demand for traditional products, are managing their manufacturing more tightly than ever, keeping inventories low while they wait until the last minute to figure out what kind of computers consumers want.
Intel, the world's largest maker of semiconductors, said its third-quarter revenue would be $13.2 billion, plus or minus $300 million. Its previous forecast has been for revenue of $13.8 billion to $14.8 billion. Intel also said the worsening market meant its gross profit margins would fall to 62 percent, from an earlier expectation of 63 percent.
"The company is seeing customers reducing inventory in the supply chain versus the normal growth in third-quarter inventory; softness in the enterprise PC market segment; and slowing emerging market demand," Intel said.
The PC market has been weak for much of the year, but until recently analysts had expected a recovery in the last quarter of the year, after Microsoft releases a new version of its Windows operating system, called Windows 8.
Two weeks ago, however, analysts at International Data Corp. projected that the worldwide PC market would grow just 0.9 percent this year, to 367 million units.
Intel has fought back against the popularity of tablet computers by investing in a category of very lightweight laptops called ultrabooks. The ultrabooks, which can have both the keyboard of a laptop and a touch screen like a tablet, were expected in large volumes in the market by the middle of this year.
Instead, only a few models have come out, and the consumers' reactions have been tepid. Dell, HP and other manufacturers are expected to have many new ultrabooks on the market in coming months.