Intel's last hurrah?

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Intel Corp. (INTC) sees reason for optimism in the quarter ahead even as storm clouds loom on the horizon.

Speaking today at a company event, Chief Executive Paul Otellini said that the second quarter was shaping up to be better than expected. Shares of the world's largest chip company rose in after-hours trading. They had gained about four percent so far this year.

Wall Street was worried that the chipmaker's results might be hurt by a slowdown in sales of computers along with the soaring popularity of the low-cost machines known as netbooks. But the company has proven to be more resilient than analysts had expected.

Last month, the California-based company reported first quarter earnings that blew the doors off of Wall Street estimates. Furthermore, Intel warmed the hearts of shell-shocked investors when it said that the market for PCs was "bottoming out" and starting to recover. But the good news may not keep coming.

Media reports indicate that Intel may face a $1.36 billion fine from regulators in Europe for illegally dumping processor to undercut rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). Shares of Intel's much weaker rival rose on the news. Intel may also run afoul of U.S. antitrust regulators.

As The Wall Street Journal and others have noted, the Obama administration is planning tough enforcement of antitrust laws. Whether that means the U.S. will follow-up on Europe's legal action remains to be seen.
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