Should Intel Stick to its Day Job?

Declining profits have investors wondering if the company would be better off curtailing its venture-capital investments

When Intel Corp. announces third-quarter earnings on Oct. 16, losses on its venture-capital investments are likely to take a big bite from its bottom line. Over the past 10 years, Intel has pocketed net gains of $4 billion from the portfolio run by its Intel Capital unit, which invested in the likes of BlackBerry pager maker Research In Motion, Red Hat Software, and incubator CMGI. But shortly before the September 11 terrorist attack, Intel warned that VC losses were mounting and would exceed interest income in the third quarter. The losses, the first since the chipmaker began disclosing VC results in the fall of 1999, could well drain $200 million from the parent's pretax operating income.

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