Intel assures employees: No more job cuts

Intel Corp said job cuts it made three years ago should help it ride out the economic slowdown, indicating that Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini won’t have to eliminate a significant number of workers.

“While we haven’t made specific projections on the size of the workforce, the restructuring we did in 2006 has put us in a good position to weather the current economic environment,” Intel spokesman Tom Beermann said today in an e-mailed statement.

Intel, the world’s top chipmaker, slashed jobs in 2006 and 2007 after losing market share to Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Those cuts helped set it apart from other technology companies, which are shedding workers now. Applied Materials Inc, National Semiconductor Corp and Sun Microsystems — all based near Intel in Santa Clara, California — have announced cutbacks.

“They are sufficiently profitable that even in a lousy economy they can hold on to people and sustain their new-market initiatives,” said David Wu, a San Francisco-based analyst for Global Crown Capital LLC. He has a neutral rating on the shares, which he doesn’t own. “The rich can afford to do things the poor cannot.”

Earlier this week, Intel said fourth-quarter sales dropped 23 percent, more than it projected, as the global recession stifled demand for personal computers. The company plans to give its full earnings report on Jan. 15.

Intel’s headcount
Intel had 83,500 employees at the end of the third quarter, down about 20,000 from its peak in 2006. When Otellini made those cuts, he said the company was too large for its revenue opportunities. That reduction helped profit rebound 38 percent in 2007, after a 42 percent decline in 2006.

The company will report a profit of $999.5 million for last quarter, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. That would be the first quarterly net income below $1 billion since 2003.

Intel fell 40 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $14.15 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares lost 45 percent of their value last year.

Job cuts might have hindered Intel’s efforts to expand into new areas, Wu said. The company announced an agreement this week to get its chips into television equipment from Toshiba Corp and Samsung Electronics Co.

“They are pretty committed to going into new markets, and they don’t want to have to say, ‘Oops, a recession. Everything stop,’” Wu said. “That wastes a lot of money.”

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