If you just looked at the headline numbers in Intel's earnings releases for the past few quarters, you might be forgiven for not knowing that there's an economic slump still on. Beginning in January of this year, with the release of a stratospheric set of Q4 numbers for 2009 (an 875 percent year-over-year increase in net income, for instance), the chipmaker has more than just recovered the ground it lost in 2008—it has consistently set new records. All of this, despite the anemic, tentative nature of the global recovery so far.
How did it pull this off? Obviously, much of the success has been due to solid execution and old-fashioned luck, but it helped that the company was able to actually benefit from a handful of downturn-related factors.