Intel today announced a 56 per cent drop in its operating income for the first quarter of 2009, but predicts that PC sales will rise in the months ahead.

The California-based chip maker sold over $7 billion (£4.5 billion) worth of processors in the first three months of 2009, which is 13 per cent down compared to the end of 2008 and a 26 per cent drop from a year ago.

However, the company sees brighter times ahead. "We believe PC sales bottomed out during the first quarter and that the industry is returning to normal seasonal patterns," said Paul Otellini, Intel president and CEO.

The not so mighty Atom

Despite all the fuss about low-power MIDs and netbooks, revenue from Intel Atom microprocessors was $219 million (£147 million), down 27 per cent from Q4 2008. Average selling price for chips was flat.

Otellini also said: "Intel has adapted well to the current economic environment and we're benefiting from disciplined execution and agility. We're delivering a product portfolio that meets the needs of the changing market, spanning affordable computing to high-performance, energy-efficient computing."

The company expects the current quarter to deliver approximately the same revenue figures and margins.

However, the company also hedges its bets by saying that "current uncertainty in global economic conditions makes it particularly difficult to predict product demand and other related matters and makes it more likely that Intel's actual results could differ materially from expectations."