Risk Factors

Fluctuations in demand for our products may harm our financial results and are difficult to forecast. more
The semiconductor industry and our operations are characterized by a high percentage of costs that are fixed or difficult to reduce in the short term, and by product demand that is highly variable and subject to significant downturns that may harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition. more
We operate in intensely competitive industries, and our failure to respond quickly to technological developments and incorporate new features into our products could harm our ability to compete. more
Litigation or regulatory proceedings could harm our business. more
Fluctuations in the mix of products sold may harm our financial results. more
Our global operations subject us to risks that may harm our results of operations and financial condition. more
Failure to meet our production targets, resulting in undersupply or oversupply of products, may harm our business and results of operations. more
We may have difficulties obtaining the resources or products we need for manufacturing, assembling and testing our products, or operating other aspects of our business, which could harm our ability to meet demand for our products and may increase our costs. more
Costs related to product defects and errata may harm our results of operations and business. more
We may be subject to claims of infringement of third-party intellectual property rights, which could harm our business. more
We may not be able to enforce or protect our intellectual property rights, which may harm our ability to compete and harm our business. more
We may be subject to intellectual property theft or misuse, which could result in third-party claims and harm our business and results of operations. more
Our licenses with other companies and our participation in industry initiatives may allow other companies, including our competitors, to use our patent rights. more
We invest in companies for strategic reasons and may not realize a return on our investments. more
Our results of operations could vary as a result of the methods, estimates, and judgments that we use in applying our accounting policies. more
Decisions about the scope of operations of our business could affect our results of operations and financial condition. more
Our acquisitions, divestitures, and other transactions could disrupt our ongoing business and harm our results of operations. more
In order to compete, we must attract, retain, and motivate key employees, and our failure to do so could harm our results of operations. more
Our failure to comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations worldwide could harm our business and results of operations. more
Climate change poses both regulatory and physical risks that could harm our results of operations or affect the way we conduct our business. more
Changes in our effective tax rate may harm our results of operations. more
Interest and other, net could be impacted by macroeconomic and other factors, harming our results of operations. more

Fluctuations in demand for our products may harm our financial results and are difficult to forecast.

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If demand for our products fluctuates, our revenue and profitability could be harmed. Important factors that could cause demand for our products to fluctuate include:

  • changes in business and economic conditions, including downturns in the semiconductor industry and/or the overall economy;
  • changes in consumer confidence caused by changes in market conditions, including changes in the credit market, expectations for inflation, unemployment levels, and energy or other commodity prices;
  • changes in the level of customers' components inventories;
  • competitive pressures, including pricing pressures, from companies that have competing products, chip architectures, manufacturing technologies, and marketing programs;
  • changes in customer product needs;
  • strategic actions taken by our competitors; and
  • market acceptance of our products.

If product demand decreases, our manufacturing or assembly and test capacity could be underutilized, and we may be required to record an impairment on our long-lived assets, including facilities and equipment as well as intangible assets, which would increase our expenses. In addition, if product demand decreases or we fail to forecast demand accurately, we could be required to write off inventory or record excess capacity charges, which would have a negative impact on our gross margin. Factory-planning decisions may shorten the useful lives of long-lived assets, including facilities and equipment, and cause us to accelerate depreciation. In the long term, if product demand increases, we may not be able to add manufacturing or assembly and test capacity fast enough to meet market demand. These changes in demand for our products, and changes in our customers' product needs, could have a variety of negative effects on our competitive position and our financial results, and, in certain cases, may reduce our revenue, increase our costs, lower our gross margin percentage, or require us to recognize impairments of our assets.

The semiconductor industry and our operations are characterized by a high percentage of costs that are fixed or difficult to reduce in the short term, and by product demand that is highly variable and subject to significant downturns that may harm our business, results of operations, and financial condition.

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The semiconductor industry and our operations are characterized by high costs, such as those related to facility construction and equipment, R&D, and employment and training of a highly skilled workforce, that are either fixed or difficult to reduce in the short term. At the same time, demand for our products is highly variable and there have been downturns, often in connection with maturing product cycles and general economic market conditions. These downturns have been characterized by reduced product demand, manufacturing overcapacity and resulting excess capacity charges, high inventory levels, and lower average selling prices. The combination of these factors may cause our revenue, gross margin, cash flow, and profitability to vary significantly in both the short and long term.

We operate in intensely competitive industries, and our failure to respond quickly to technological developments and incorporate new features into our products could harm our ability to compete.

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We operate in intensely competitive industries that experience rapid technological developments, changes in industry standards, changes in customer requirements, and frequent new product introductions and improvements. If we are unable to respond quickly and successfully to these developments, we may lose our competitive position, and our products or technologies may become uncompetitive or obsolete. As new computing market segments emerge, such as netbooks, handhelds, tablets, and consumer electronics devices, we face new sources of competition, and customers that have different requirements than customers in our traditional PC business. To be successful, we need to cultivate new industry relationships in these market segments. As the number and variety of Internet-connected devices increase, we need to improve the cost, energy efficiency, and security functionality of our microprocessors to succeed in these new market segments. In addition, we need to focus on the acquisition and development of our software capabilities in order to provide customers with complete computing solutions.

To compete successfully, we must maintain a successful R&D effort, develop new products and production processes, and improve our existing products and processes at the same pace or ahead of our competitors. Our R&D efforts are aimed at solving increasingly complex problems, and we do not expect that all of our projects will be successful. If our R&D efforts are unsuccessful, our future results of operations could be materially harmed. We may not be able to develop and market these new products successfully, the products we invest in and develop may not be well received by customers, and products developed and new technologies offered by others may affect demand for our products. These types of events could have a variety of negative effects on our competitive position and our financial results, such as reducing our revenue, increasing our costs, lowering our gross margin percentage, and requiring us to recognize impairments on our assets.

Litigation or regulatory proceedings could harm our business.

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We may be subject to legal claims or regulatory matters involving stockholder, consumer, competition, and other issues on a global basis. As described in "Note 29: Contingencies" in Part II, Item 8 of this Form 10-K, we are currently engaged in a number of litigation and regulatory matters. Litigation and regulatory proceedings are subject to inherent uncertainties, and unfavorable rulings could occur. An unfavorable ruling could include monetary damages or, in cases for which injunctive relief is sought, an injunction prohibiting us from manufacturing or selling one or more products, precluding particular business practices, or requiring other remedies, such as compulsory licensing of intellectual property. If we were to receive an unfavorable ruling in a matter, our business and results of operations could be materially harmed.

Fluctuations in the mix of products sold may harm our financial results.

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Because of the wide price differences among and within notebook, netbook, tablet, desktop, and server microprocessors, the mix and types of performance capabilities of microprocessors sold affect the average selling price of our products and have a substantial impact on our revenue and gross margin. Our financial results also depend in part on the mix of other products that we sell, such as chipsets, flash memory, and other semiconductor products. In addition, more recently introduced products tend to have higher associated costs because of initial overall development and production ramp. Fluctuations in the mix and types of our products may also affect the extent to which we are able to recover the fixed costs and investments associated with a particular product, and as a result can harm our financial results.

Our global operations subject us to risks that may harm our results of operations and financial condition.

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We have sales offices, R&D, manufacturing, and assembly and test facilities in many countries, and some business activities may be concentrated in one or more geographic areas. As a result, we are subject to risks that may limit our ability to manufacture, assemble and test, design, develop, or sell products in particular countries or on a geographic basis, which could harm our results of operations and financial condition, including:

  • security concerns, such as armed conflict and civil or military unrest, crime, political instability, and terrorist activity;
  • health concerns;
  • natural disasters;
  • inefficient and limited infrastructure and disruptions, such as large-scale outages or interruptions of service from utilities, transportation, or telecommunications providers and supply chain interruptions;
  • restrictions on our operations by governments seeking to support local industries, nationalization of our operations, and restrictions on our ability to repatriate earnings;
  • differing employment practices and labor issues;
  • local business and cultural factors that differ from our normal standards and practices, including business practices that we are prohibited from engaging in by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption laws and regulations; and
  • regulatory requirements and prohibitions that differ among jurisdictions.

Violations of these laws and regulations could result in fines; criminal sanctions against us, our officers, or our employees; prohibitions on the conduct of our business; and damage to our reputation. Although we have implemented policies, controls, and procedures designed to ensure compliance with these laws, our employees, contractors, or agents may violate our policies.

In addition, although substantially all of our products are sold in U.S. dollars, we incur a significant amount of certain types of expenses, such as payroll, utilities, tax, and marketing expenses, as well as conduct certain investing and financing activities, in local currencies. Our hedging programs reduce, but do not entirely eliminate, the impact of currency exchange rate movements; therefore, fluctuations in exchange rates could harm our results and financial condition. In addition, changes in tariff and import regulations and in U.S. and non-U.S. monetary policies may harm our results and financial condition by increasing our expenses and reducing our revenue. Varying tax rates in different jurisdictions could harm our results of operations and financial condition by increasing our overall tax rate.

We maintain a program of insurance coverage for various types of property, casualty, and other risks. We place our insurance coverage with various carriers in numerous jurisdictions. However, there is a risk that one or more of our insurance providers may be unable to pay a claim. The types and amounts of insurance that we obtain vary from time to time and from location to location, depending on availability, cost, and our decisions with respect to risk retention. The policies are subject to deductibles and exclusions that result in our retention of a level of risk on a self-insurance basis. Losses not covered by insurance may be substantial, which could harm our results of operations and financial condition.

Failure to meet our production targets, resulting in undersupply or oversupply of products, may harm our business and results of operations.

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Production of integrated circuits is a complex process. Disruptions in this process can result from interruptions in our processes, errors, and difficulties in our development and implementation of new processes; defects in materials; disruptions in our supply of materials or resources; and disruptions at our fabrication and assembly and test facilities due to, for example, accidents, maintenance issues, or unsafe working conditions—all of which could affect the timing of production ramps and yields. We may not be successful or efficient in developing or implementing new production processes. The occurrence of any of the foregoing may result in our failure to meet or increase production as desired, resulting in higher costs or substantial decreases in yields, which could affect our ability to produce sufficient volume to meet specific product demand. The unavailability or reduced availability of certain products could make it more difficult to deliver computing platforms. The occurrence of any of these events could harm our business and results of operations.

We may have difficulties obtaining the resources or products we need for manufacturing, assembling and testing our products, or operating other aspects of our business, which could harm our ability to meet demand for our products and may increase our costs.

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We have thousands of suppliers providing various materials that we use in the production of our products and other aspects of our business, and we seek, where possible, to have several sources of supply for all of those materials. However, we may rely on a single or a limited number of suppliers, or upon suppliers in a single country, for these materials. The inability of such suppliers to deliver adequate supplies of production materials or other supplies could disrupt our production processes or could make it more difficult for us to implement our business strategy. In addition, production could be disrupted by the unavailability of the resources used in production, such as water, silicon, electricity, gases, and other materials. Future environmental regulations could restrict the supply or increase the cost of certain of the materials that we currently use in our business. Environmental regulations also may make it more difficult to obtain permits to build or modify additional manufacturing capacity to meet demand. The unavailability or reduced availability of the materials or resources that we use in our business may require us to reduce production of products or may require us to incur additional costs in order to obtain an adequate supply of those materials or resources. The occurrence of any of these events could harm our business and results of operations.

Costs related to product defects and errata may harm our results of operations and business.

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Costs associated with unexpected product defects and errata (deviations from published specifications) due to, for example, unanticipated problems in our design and manufacturing processes, could include:

  • writing off the value of inventory of such products;
  • disposing of products that cannot be fixed;
  • recalling such products that have been shipped to customers;
  • providing product replacements for, or modifications to, such products; and
  • defending against litigation related to such products.

These costs could be substantial and may therefore increase our expenses and lower our gross margin. In addition, our reputation with our customers or users of our products could be damaged as a result of such product defects and errata, and the demand for our products could be reduced. The announcement of product defects and/or errata could cause customers to purchase products from our competitors as a result of anticipated shortages of Intel components or for other reasons. These factors could harm our financial results and the prospects for our business.

We may be subject to claims of infringement of third-party intellectual property rights, which could harm our business.

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Third parties may assert against us or our customers alleged patent, copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property rights to technologies that are important to our business. We are currently engaged in a number of litigation matters involving intellectual property rights. We may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims from certain individuals and companies, including those who have acquired patent portfolios for the sole purpose of asserting such claims against other companies. Any claims that our products or processes infringe the intellectual property rights of others, regardless of the merit or resolution of such claims, could cause us to incur significant costs in responding to, defending, and resolving such claims, and may divert the efforts and attention of our management and technical personnel from our business. As a result of such intellectual property infringement claims, we could be required or otherwise decide that it is appropriate to:

  • pay third-party infringement claims;
  • discontinue manufacturing, using, or selling particular products subject to infringement claims;
  • discontinue using the technology or processes subject to infringement claims;
  • develop other technology not subject to infringement claims, which could be time-consuming and costly or may not be possible; or
  • license technology from the third party claiming infringement, which license may not be available on commercially reasonable terms.

The occurrence of any of the foregoing could result in unexpected expenses or require us to recognize an impairment of our assets, which would reduce the value of our assets and increase expenses. In addition, if we alter or discontinue our production of affected items, our revenue could be harmed.

We may not be able to enforce or protect our intellectual property rights, which may harm our ability to compete and harm our business.

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Our ability to enforce our patents, copyrights, software licenses, and other intellectual property rights is subject to general litigation risks, as well as uncertainty as to the enforceability of our intellectual property rights in various countries. When we seek to enforce our rights, we are often subject to claims that the intellectual property right is invalid, is otherwise not enforceable, or is licensed to the party against whom we are asserting a claim. In addition, our assertion of intellectual property rights often results in the other party seeking to assert alleged intellectual property rights of its own or assert other claims against us, which could harm our business. If we are not ultimately successful in defending ourselves against these claims in litigation, we may not be able to sell a particular product or family of products due to an injunction, or we may have to license the technology or pay damages that could, in turn, harm our results of operations. In addition, governments may adopt regulations, and governments or courts may render decisions, requiring compulsory licensing of intellectual property to others, or governments may require that products meet specified standards that serve to favor local companies. Our inability to enforce our intellectual property rights under these circumstances may harm our competitive position and our business.

We may be subject to intellectual property theft or misuse, which could result in third-party claims and harm our business and results of operations.

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We regularly face attempts by others to gain unauthorized access through the Internet to our information technology systems, such as when they masquerade as authorized users or surreptitiously introduce software. These attempts, which might be the result of industrial or other espionage, or actions by hackers seeking to harm the company, its products, or end users, are sometimes successful. We seek to detect and investigate these security incidents and to prevent their recurrence, but in some cases we might be unaware of an incident or its magnitude and effects. The theft or unauthorized use or publication of our trade secrets and other confidential business information as a result of such an incident could adversely affect our competitive position and reduce marketplace acceptance of our products; the value of our investment in R&D, product development, and marketing could be reduced; and third parties might assert against us or our customers claims related to resulting losses of confidential or proprietary information or end-user data, or system reliability. Our business could be subject to significant disruption, and we could suffer monetary and other losses, including the cost of product recalls and returns and reputational harm, in the event of such incidents and claims.

Our licenses with other companies and our participation in industry initiatives may allow other companies, including our competitors, to use our patent rights.

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Companies in the semiconductor industry often rely on the ability to license patents from each other in order to compete. Many of our competitors have broad licenses or cross-licenses with us, and under current case law, some of the licenses may permit these competitors to pass our patent rights on to others. If one of these licensees becomes a foundry, our competitors might be able to avoid our patent rights in manufacturing competing products. In addition, our participation in industry initiatives may require us to license our patents to other companies that adopt certain industry standards or specifications, even when such organizations do not adopt standards or specifications proposed by us. As a result, our patents implicated by our participation in industry initiatives might not be available for us to enforce against others who might otherwise be deemed to be infringing those patents, our costs of enforcing our licenses or protecting our patents may increase, and the value of our intellectual property may be impaired.

We invest in companies for strategic reasons and may not realize a return on our investments.

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We make investments in companies around the world to further our strategic objectives and support our key business initiatives. Such investments include equity or debt instruments of public or private companies, and many of these instruments are non-marketable at the time of our initial investment. These companies range from early-stage companies that are often still defining their strategic direction to more mature companies with established revenue streams and business models. The success of these companies is dependent on product development, market acceptance, operational efficiency, and other key business factors. The companies in which we invest may fail because they may not be able to secure additional funding, obtain favorable investment terms for future financings, or participate in liquidity events such as public offerings, mergers, and private sales. If any of these private companies fail, we could lose all or part of our investment in that company. If we determine that an other-than-temporary decline in the fair value exists for an equity or debt investment in a public or private company in which we have invested, we write down the investment to its fair value and recognize the related write-down as an investment loss. We also have significant investments in companies in the flash memory market segment, and declines in this market segment or changes in management's plans with respect to our investments in this market segment could result in significant impairment charges, impacting gains (losses) on equity method investments, net and gains (losses) on other equity investments, net.

When the strategic objectives of an investment have been achieved, or if the investment or business diverges from our strategic objectives, we may decide to dispose of the investment. We may incur losses on the disposal of our non-marketable investments. Additionally, for cases in which we are required under equity method accounting to recognize a proportionate share of another company's income or loss, such income or loss may impact our earnings. Gains or losses from equity securities could vary from expectations depending on gains or losses realized on the sale or exchange of securities, gains or losses from equity method investments, and impairment charges for equity and other investments.

Our results of operations could vary as a result of the methods, estimates, and judgments that we use in applying our accounting policies.

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The methods, estimates, and judgments that we use in applying our accounting policies have a significant impact on our results of operations (see "Critical Accounting Estimates" in Part II, Item 7 of this Form 10-K). Such methods, estimates, and judgments are, by their nature, subject to substantial risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, and factors may arise over time that lead us to change our methods, estimates, and judgments. Changes in those methods, estimates, and judgments could significantly affect our results of operations.

Decisions about the scope of operations of our business could affect our results of operations and financial condition.

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Changes in the business environment could lead to changes in our decisions about the scope of operations of our business, and these changes could result in restructuring and asset impairment charges. Factors that could affect our results of operations and financial condition with regard to changing the scope of our operations include:

  • timing and execution of plans and programs that may be subject to local labor law requirements, including consultation with appropriate work councils;
  • changes in assumptions related to severance and postretirement costs;
  • future divestitures;
  • new business initiatives and changes in product roadmap, development, and manufacturing;
  • changes in employment levels and turnover rates;
  • changes in product demand and the business environment; and
  • changes in the fair value of certain long-lived assets.

Our acquisitions, divestitures, and other transactions could disrupt our ongoing business and harm our results of operations.

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In pursuing our business strategy, we routinely conduct discussions, evaluate opportunities, and enter into agreements regarding possible investments, acquisitions, divestitures, and other transactions, such as joint ventures. Acquisitions and other transactions involve significant challenges and risks, including risks that:

  • we may not be able to identify suitable opportunities at terms acceptable to us;
  • the transaction may not advance our business strategy;
  • we may not realize a satisfactory return on the investment we make;
  • we may not be able to retain key personnel of the acquired business;
  • we may experience difficulty in integrating new employees, business systems, and technology;
  • acquired businesses may not have adequate controls, processes, and procedures to ensure compliance with laws and regulations globally, and our due diligence process may not identify compliance issues or other liabilities that are in existence at the time of our acquisition;
  • we may have difficulty entering into new market segments in which we are not experienced; or
  • we may be unable to retain the customers and partners of acquired businesses following the acquisition.

When we decide to sell assets or a business, we may encounter difficulty in finding or completing divestiture opportunities or alternative exit strategies on acceptable terms in a timely manner, and the agreed terms and financing arrangements could be renegotiated due to changes in business or market conditions. These circumstances could delay the accomplishment of our strategic objectives or cause us to incur additional expenses with respect to businesses that we want to dispose of, or we may dispose of a business at a price or on terms that are less favorable than we had anticipated, resulting in a loss on the transaction.

If we do enter into agreements with respect to acquisitions, divestitures, or other transactions, we may fail to complete them due to factors such as:

  • failure to obtain required regulatory or other approvals;
  • intellectual property or other litigation; or
  • difficulties that we or other parties may encounter in obtaining financing for the transaction.

In order to compete, we must attract, retain, and motivate key employees, and our failure to do so could harm our results of operations.

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In order to compete, we must attract, retain, and motivate executives and other key employees. Hiring and retaining qualified executives, scientists, engineers, technical staff, and sales representatives are critical to our business, and competition for experienced employees in the semiconductor industry can be intense. To help attract, retain, and motivate qualified employees, we use share-based incentive awards such as non-vested share units (restricted stock units) and employee stock options. If the value of such stock awards does not appreciate as measured by the performance of the price of our common stock, or if our share-based compensation otherwise ceases to be viewed as a valuable benefit, our ability to attract, retain, and motivate employees could be weakened, which could harm our results of operations.

Our failure to comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations worldwide could harm our business and results of operations.

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The manufacturing and assembling and testing of our products require the use of hazardous materials that are subject to a broad array of EHS laws and regulations. Our failure to comply with any of those applicable laws or regulations could result in:

  • regulatory penalties, fines, and legal liabilities;
  • suspension of production;
  • alteration of our fabrication and assembly and test processes; and
  • curtailment of our operations or sales.

In addition, our failure to manage the use, transportation, emissions, discharge, storage, recycling, or disposal of hazardous materials could subject us to increased costs or future liabilities. Existing and future environmental laws and regulations could also require us to acquire pollution abatement or remediation equipment, modify our product designs, or incur other expenses associated with such laws and regulations. Many new materials that we are evaluating for use in our operations may be subject to regulation under existing or future environmental laws and regulations that may restrict our use of one or more of such materials in our manufacturing, assembly and test processes, or products. Any of these restrictions could harm our business and results of operations by increasing our expenses or requiring us to alter our manufacturing and assembly and test processes.

Climate change poses both regulatory and physical risks that could harm our results of operations or affect the way we conduct our business.

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In addition to the possible direct economic impact that climate change could have on us, climate change mitigation programs and regulations can increase our costs. For example, the cost of perfluorocompounds (PFCs), a gas that we use in manufacturing, could increase over time under some climate-change-focused emissions trading programs that may be imposed by government regulation. If the use of PFCs is prohibited, we would need to obtain substitute materials that may cost more or be less available for our manufacturing operations. In addition, air quality permit requirements for our manufacturing operations could become more burdensome and cause delays in our ability to modify or build additional manufacturing capacity. Under the recently adopted greenhouse gas regulations in the U.S., many of our manufacturing facilities will become "major" sources under the Clean Air Act in 2011. At a minimum, this change in status will result in some uncertainty as the EPA adopts guidance on implementation of its greenhouse gas regulations. Due to the dynamic nature of our semiconductor manufacturing operations, it is likely these new regulations will result in increased costs for our U.S. operations. These cost increases could be associated with new air pollution control requirements, and increased or new monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. We also see the potential for higher energy costs driven by climate change regulations. Our costs could increase if utility companies pass on their costs, such as those associated with carbon taxes, emission cap and trade programs, or renewable portfolio standards. While we maintain business recovery plans that are intended to allow us to recover from natural disasters or other events that can be disruptive to our business, we cannot be sure that our plans will fully protect us from all such disasters or events. Many of our operations are located in semi-arid regions, such as Israel and the southwestern U.S. Some scenarios predict that these regions may become even more vulnerable to prolonged droughts due to climate change.

Changes in our effective tax rate may harm our results of operations.

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A number of factors may increase our future effective tax rates, including:

  • the jurisdictions in which profits are determined to be earned and taxed;
  • the resolution of issues arising from tax audits with various tax authorities;
  • changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities, and changes in deferred tax valuation allowances;
  • adjustments to income taxes upon finalization of various tax returns;
  • increases in expenses not deductible for tax purposes, including write-offs of acquired in-process research and development and impairments of goodwill in connection with acquisitions;
  • changes in available tax credits;
  • changes in tax laws or the interpretation of such tax laws, including changes in the U.S. to the taxation of foreign income and expenses;
  • changes in U.S. generally accepted accounting principles; and
  • our decision to repatriate non-U.S. earnings for which we have not previously provided for U.S. taxes.

Any significant increase in our future effective tax rates could reduce net income for future periods.

Interest and other, net could be impacted by macroeconomic and other factors, harming our results of operations.

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Factors that could cause interest and other, net in our consolidated statements of income to fluctuate include:

  • fixed-income, equity, and credit market volatility;
  • fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates;
  • fluctuations in interest rates;
  • changes in the credit standing of financial instrument counterparties; and
  • changes in our cash and investment balances.

© 2011 Intel Corporation