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Intel CEO Paul Otellini to retire in surprise move

Associated Press Modified: November 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm •  Published: November 19, 2012

Now, much of the technology industry is questioning whether Intel and Microsoft can catch up in the mobile market to ensure their products remain as essential — and profitable — in the future as they have been in the past three decades.

It's a challenge that Ballmer, 56, is confident he can tackle. He signaled his intent to remain Microsoft's CEO earlier this month when he ushered out the head of the company's Windows division because of philosophical differences over the company's future direction. For whatever reasons, Otellini concluded it was time for new leadership at Intel — an opinion that many investors share, according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Doug Freedman.

"A shift in leadership could be welcome news to investors as Intel could be in greater position to broaden its portfolio into higher growth markets," Freedman wrote in a Monday research note.

Intel's stock was unchanged at $20.19 shortly before the market closed Monday. The stock has fallen more than 20 percent during Otellini's reign. Most of the decline occurred this year amid concerns about the company's ability to adjust to mobile computing and weakening demand for its core products in countries with troubled economies, particularly in Europe and China. The company blamed the poor economy for a 14 percent drop in its earnings during its most recent quarter.

Intel's chips have become even more dominant in the PC computer market during Otellini's tenure, helping to boost the company's annual revenue from $39 billion in 2005 to $54 billion last year. Besides supplying Windows-powered PCs, Otellini also scored a coup in 2006 when he convinced Apple to start using Intel chips in Mac computers instead of IBM Corp.'s microprocessors.

But Apple's pioneering work in smartphones and tablet computers also muddled Intel's future. Both the iPhone and iPad inspired a wave of sophisticated handheld devices that are undercutting demand for desktop and laptop machines that house Intel processors.

Most tablets rely on a technology licensed from British chip designer ARM Holdings Plc. Even Microsoft has tweaked the latest version of the Windows operating system so it works on ARM chips.

Other chip makers such as Qualcomm Inc. have developed less expensive microprocessors that have eclipsed Intel in the smartphone market. Qualcomm's inroads in the mobile market are a key reason why its stock has soared by more than 70 percent while Otellini was running Intel.

The contrasting performances of the two companies' stocks enabled Qualcomm to surpass Intel as the world's most valuable chip maker. Qualcomm's market value now stands at about $106 billion versus $100 billion for Intel.

Even though its stock under Otellini has lagged the rest of the market, Intel's ongoing prosperity has enabled the company to reward shareholders in other ways. Intel has paid stock dividends totaling $23.5 billion under Otellini as its quarterly payments rose 8 cents per share in 2005 to 22.5 cents per share currently.