AMD CEO encouraged by Black Friday PC sales

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Results from the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend look encouraging for PC sales although it's too early to made predictions about the entire holiday shopping season, and the PC industry still faces long-term problems, the CEO of chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices said.

The growing popularity of Apple's iPad and other tablets have sapped demand for PCs, and with economic growth slowing in China and struggling in Europe and the United States, global shipments are expected to decline slightly this year, the first annual drop since 2001.

"We've seen some positive news out of Black Friday over the past several days," AMD Chief Executive Rory Read told investors at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on Tuesday. "Our performance over that period looked reasonably well but I think it's a little early to call the holiday season."

Read reiterated that he does not expect the PC market, which accounts for about 85 percent of AMD's business, to recover for several quarters.

Manufacturers have been betting Microsoft's long-awaited launch of its Windows 8 platform in October will help drive PC sales this holiday season. But Read said the operating system's release came at an awkward time and held up inventories going into September, when manufacturers are normally busy building PCs for the holiday season.

One of Silicon Valley's oldest chipmakers, AMD has been laying off engineers while looking for new markets for its chips as it faces depleting cash reserves.

It has hired JPMorgan Chase & Co to explore its options, although an outright sale of the company is not the main option, according to sources.

Sales over the Thanksgiving weekend and the holidays in general are closely watched by investors. U.S. retailers can generate a third of their sales and up to half of their annual profit in November and December.

Like its larger rival Intel, Sunnyvale, California-based AMD was caught flat-footed in recent years with the emergence and fast growth of mobile devices.

Shares of AMD were up 0.53 percent at $1.88.

© Thomson Reuters 2012

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