CES: What's Intel Got Up Its Sleeve?

James Rogers

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- All eyes will be on Intel(:INTC) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday as the chip company makes its big play for the consumer market.

Intel, which hosts a CES press event later today, has kept its news under wraps. Rumors have swirled about a set-top box announcement, a focus on the company's latest Atom processors, and the new breed of super-skinny laptops known as ultrabooks.

"Ultrabooks were one of the more prolific product categories at last year's CES," Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson said in a recent note. "We expect Intel to highlight the newer touch-enabled convertible hybrid designs at this CES and also expect Intel to showcase their new low power Atom processors targeted at Win 8 tablets."

Canaccord Genuity has a "buy" rating on Intel.

Launched late last year, Intel's Z2760 Atom processor, code-named "Clover Trail" is a low-power offering aimed at the market for Microsoft(:MSFT) Windows 8 tablets from the likes of Dell(:DELL) and HP(:HPQ).

Rick Sherlund, an analyst at Nomura, agrees that Intel is likely to focus attention on its new processor when it meets with analysts at CES on Monday. "We would expect there to be an emphasis on Intel's new and strategically important Clover Trail processor for tablets, including successor Bay Trail," he wrote, in a recent note. "Clover Trail chips have had some issues getting to market and largely missed the holiday season."

Sherlund notes, however, that with power management modifications to the chip now out of the way, he expects shipments to ramp up in January. "We expect to see some new Clover Trail based tablets running Windows 8 that would be featured by Intel, along with other new Windows 8 devices," he wrote.

The analyst points out that rival chip maker Nvidia(:NVDA) is boosting efforts around its next-generation Tegra 4 offering, which was announced at CES early on Monday.

"We also wonder when Microsoft may refresh the Surface RT tablet to run the new Tegra 4 chip, as well as potentially updating the Surface Pro tablet to run on Clover Trail," he added.

Lazard Capital Markets upgraded Intel from "neutral" to "buy" on Monday, citing the potential for wider profit margins, the impact of ultrabooks, the company's manufacturing strength and its dividend yield.

"We think demand will begin to improve next quarter as more Ultrabooks hit the market in 2H13," wrote Lazard Capital Markets analyst Daniel Amir.

Intel shares rose 0.9% to $21.35 in trading on Monday.

TheStreet will be live-blogging CES, starting at 9.30 a.m. ET:

-- Written by James Rogers in New York.

Follow @jamesjrogers

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