INTC

Intel Hits 6-Month High After CEO Announcement

Dow component Intel Corp. (INTC) rallied to the highest high since July on Wednesday after the company took a big step toward recovery, appointing former VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger to the CEO slot. Current CEO Bob Swan will retire on Feb. 15, leaving behind a battered tech giant forced to treat a series of self-inflicted wounds. The company guided Q4 results above prior guidance at the same time, with both catalysts setting off a 7% rally.

Multiple Upgrades After the News

The news generated a flurry of upgrades, with Cowen, Morgan Stanley, Atlantic Equities, and BMO Capital Markets issuing upgrades and new price targets. Even so, the company faces a long road to higher prices after multiple missteps triggered an exodus to NVIDIA Inc. (NVDA), Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and other well-positioned rivals. And, while all three manufacturers should prosper in coming years, Intel has probably lost permanent market share.

Cowen analyst Matthew Ramsay upgraded the stock to ‘Outperform’ with a $75 price target after the news, noting, “We have long believed Intel has the engineering talent, product breadth, access to capital, political backing and scale to eventually reinvigorate its competitiveness — both in products and manufacturing. Bringing former CTO Pat Gelsinger back from VMWare as CEO has the potential to galvanize Intel behind a more credible forward strategy and roadmap.”

Wall Street and Technical Outlook

Wall Street consensus failed to improve overnight, continuing a cautious ‘Hold’ rating based upon 10 ‘Buy’ and 13 ‘Hold’ recommendations. More importantly, five analysts still recommend that shareholders close positions and move to the sidelines. Price targets currently range from a low of $40 to a Street-high $80 while the stock opened Thursday’s U.S. session just $1 above the median $57 target. This placement suggests that Intel is fully-valued at this time.

The stock sold off to the March low in October and bounced to resistance in the low 50s. A secondary decline found support above the prior low in December while this week’s rally has completed a double bottom reversal and filled the July gap. Buying volume posted about three times the 60-day moving average, which wasn’t enough to set off strong buy signals. Taken together with other headwinds, it makes sense to wait for Wednesday’s gap to get filled before getting on board.

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Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication.