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商业 - 科技

新掌门的实用主义能让英特尔东山再起吗?

Kevin Kelleher 2014年01月27日

科兹安尼克也许会是一位务实的首席执行官,他最终会要得到他想要的一切。不过,科兹安尼克最近把老掌门欧德宁主导打造的网络视讯转换器项目OnCue低价卖给电信运营商威瑞森的举动表明,英特尔已经从号令群雄的王者变成了一家巴结讨好潜在同盟者的普通公司。

    在英特尔(Intel)的传奇历史中,这家公司的投资实质上都是基于对摩尔定律(Moore's law)的信任。这个定律是一个观测得出的推论,用英特尔创始人的名字命名,它的内容是:集成电路上可容纳的晶体管数目每两年就会翻倍。

    不过,如果说摩尔的定律今天依然有效,他共同创立的这家公司的股价就不怎么规律了。过去两年中,英特尔的股价几乎维持在每股25美元不动——严格意义上来说,是下降了4%,与纳斯达克综合指数同期上涨52%的走势背道而驰。贝斯普克投资集团(Bespoke Investment)表示,过去八个季度,每当英特尔公布财报收益时,股价都会下跌。

    英特尔表现欠佳很大程度上是因为它长期依赖PC市场的芯片行业。而PC销量在平板电脑时代一直在萎缩。这不是英特尔芯片的技术问题,而是使用芯片的设备问题——尤其是平板电脑和智能手机。英特尔正在努力开辟通往移动产品芯片市场的道路,力图开发未来可穿戴式电脑和物联网时代的设备。

    这就是给去年五月就任英特尔首席执行官的布莱恩•科兹安尼克肩头的任务:将英特尔带入后PC时代。1982年从圣何塞州立大学(San Jose State University)毕业后,科兹安尼克就加入了英特尔,在这家公司的制造业务部门经历了多次升迁。他的工程出身受到了英特尔的欢迎,不过一些投资者怀疑他是否有能力让这家芯片制造商东山再起。

    英特尔的前几任首席执行官都很高调,而科兹安尼克被任命为英特尔的领袖时,仍然让人感到些许神秘。之后,他便以一个安静务实的领袖的形象出现,同时以明智而实际的举措吸引了一些华尔街的投资者。加拿大蒙特利尔银行资本(BMO Capital)的分析师安布里什•斯里瓦斯塔瓦在本月的一份报告中写道:“在很大程度上,我们看见英特尔更愿意迎接和处理自己面临的挑战了。”

    去年11月英特尔的投资者日上,科兹安尼克展现了自己的一部分决心。英特尔董事长安迪•布莱恩特告诉投资者他“个人对公司似乎失去了前进的方向感到难堪”之后,科兹安尼克上前分析了导致英特尔遭到iPad意外打击的公司文化问题。他说:“我们变得狭隘了。我们着眼于我们最好的产品,而忽视了市场前进的方向。”

    在那个时刻,科兹安尼克向投资者展现出了一个能够把握市场脉搏、带领公司回归正轨的英特尔“土著”工程师的形象。仿佛要表现他打破陈规的决心一般,他承诺将扩张公司的合同制造业务规模,让更多的芯片制造商能够接触到皇冠上的宝石——英特尔先进的处理器技术。

    科兹安尼克的复兴大计还需要一些时间才能见到成效。上周,英特尔发布了最新季度的财报收益。由于当季PC发货量降低了10%,这家公司传统的PC芯片业务收入减少了4%。与之相反,英特尔数据中心集团的收入上涨了8%,远低于分析家们预测的两位数涨幅。英特尔认为,原因在于商品积压和企业界在信息技术方面的开销增长缓慢。

    All along Intel's (INTC) storied history, an investment in the company has essentially been a vote of confidence in Moore's law -- the observation, named after an Intel founder, that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years.

    But if Moore's law is still working well enough, the stock of the company he co-founded has not been advancing quite as steadily. Over the past two years, the stock is largely unchanged from its current $25 a share price -- technically, it's down 4% in that period, against a 52% rise in the Nasdaq Composite. And as Bespoke Investment noted, the stock has gapped down each of the past eight quarters Intel has posted earnings.

    Much of Intel's subpar performance is tied to its longtime dependence on chips for the PC market, which has seen sales dwindle in the era of the tablet. It's not an issue of the technology of Intel's chips, it's the devices they're going into -- tablets and smartphones, in particular. Intel has been struggling to find a way into mobile chips, as well as devices in emerging areas like wearable computers and the Internet of Things.

    That has left Brian Krzanich, appointed as Intel's CEO last May, tasked with pushing Intel into the post-PC era. Krzanich joined Intel after graduating from San Jose State University in 1982, rising through a number of positions in the company's manufacturing operations. His roots in engineering were welcome inside Intel, but some investors wondered whether he had what it takes to revive the chipmaker.

    Following in the footsteps of several high-profile CEOs before him, Krzanich was something of a mystery when he was tapped to lead Intel. He has since emerged as a quietly practical leader with a shrewd, no-nonsense approach that appeals to some on Wall Street. "At a very high level," BMO Capital analyst Ambrish Srivastava wrote in a report this month, "we see the company more willing to accept and address the challenges that the company faces."

    Some of Krzanich's grit became evident during Intel's investor day in November. After Intel Chairman Andy Bryant told the investment crowd he was "personally embarrassed that we seem to have lost our way," Krzanich stepped forth to diagnose the cultural problem that led Intel to be blindsided by the iPad: "We'd become insular," he said. "We'd become focused on what was our best product vs. where the market wanted to move."

    In that moment, Krzanich presented himself to investors as the born-and-bred Intel engineer who would find the market's pulse and reposition the company toward it. As if to show his resolve in breaking with tradition, he vowed to expand the company's contract manufacturing business, allowing more chipmakers access to a crown jewel, Intel's advanced process technology.

    For Krzanich's turnaround to work, it will need some time. Last week, when Intel reported earnings for the most recent quarter, its traditional business of PC chips saw revenue decline 4% in a quarter when PC shipments fell 10%. Conversely, revenue from Intel's data-center group rose 8%, well below the double-digit rate analysts were expecting. Intel blamed that on excess inventory and a slow recovery in corporate IT spending.

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