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Ahead of the Bell: Intel

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Intel Corp. fell before Friday's opening bell after the chipmaker reported a fourth-quarter profit slightly lower than Wall Street expected.

Intel supplies chips for the majority of personal computer processors, so the consumer shift away from PCs —and toward tablets and smartphones— continues to hurt sales. The company has tried to offset the decline with higher sales of chips for servers, phones and tablets.

Fourth-quarter revenue from Intel's PC group was $8.6 billion, about the same as a year ago, while data center revenue jumped 8 percent to $3 billion. Revenue from the company's other businesses increased 9 percent to $1.1 billion.

For the current quarter, Intel said it expects revenue for the current quarter of $12.3 billion to $13.3 billion, bracketing analysts' expectations of $12.8 billion.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Kevin Cassidy backed his "Buy" rating for the stock, saying that he considers the fourth-quarter results and guidance roughly in line with expectations. He said it appears that the PC market has stabilized and predicted that Intel's shipment volumes will grow.

Meanwhile, Sterne Agee's Vijay Rakesh backed his "Neutral" rating, calling the fourth-quarter profit "soft" compared with expectations. He said that it could be tough for the company to expand its piece of the tablet chip market given tough competition.

In premarket trading, Intel shares fell $1.19, or 4.5 percent, to $25.35.