SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Intel Corp. is scheduled to report its third-quarter results on Tuesday, Oct. 18, after the markets close.WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Commentary about personal computer demand. PC sales worldwide are growing, but the pace is sluggish, as market research firms Gartner Inc. and IDC reported this week. The outlook for the U.S. and Europe in particular is gloomy. Sales in Asian markets are growing, but not fast enough to offset declines in some areas. As the world's biggest maker of PC microprocessors, Intel is in a unique position to provide perspective on global PC trends.The company's relative lack of a presence in smartphones -- an urgent concern for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company -- is actually useful for investors in this context, because Intel's overall figures aren't obscured by smartphones' rapid growth. They provide a much clearer picture of overall demand for PC and server chips.WHY IT MATTERS: Intel's processors are inside some 80 percent of the world's PCs.While the PC industry struggles, Intel has important levers at its disposal it can pull to return good financial results even in bad times. Most notably: the company's investment in its multibillion-dollar chip-making factories. By improving the technology in those factories, Intel makes its chips smaller, more energy-efficient -- and more profitable. In some areas Intel is at least a year ahead of rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which spun off its manufacturing division in 2009 and just last month cut its third-quarter forecast because of problems that delayed production of an important new type of chip.WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect that Intel earned 61 cents per share on $13.86 billion in revenue.LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: In the same period last year, Intel earned 52 cents per share on $11.1 billion in revenue.
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