Intel Corporation blew away even the most optimistic earnings predictions Tuesday, posting a $1.7 billion profit on record sales of $6.5 billion. Meanwhile, limping competitor Motorola posted earnings of $393 million on sales of $8.3 billion, far below estimates. Motorola stock dropped sharply at the news.

"During the fourth quarter, the deterioration of economic conditions in certain Asian markets had an impact in terms of slowing the growth of sales, orders and profits, as well as putting pressure on pricing," said Robert Growney, Motorola's president and CEO. A $72 million restructuring charge also contributed.

Meanwhile, Intel officials cited record demand for Pentium II and Pentium MMX microprocessors for the improved earnings.

"In 1997 our factories ramped new processing and packaging technologies at an unprecedented rate," said Andy Grove, chairman and CEO of Intel. "We introduced two major new microprocessors, the Pentium processor with MMX technology and the Pentium II processor, essentially replacing our previous product line.