Intel said last night that it was investigating reports that a graphic in its quarterly earnings statement had been the object of unauthorised access before publication. 

"Once we became aware of these reports, we made the decision to issue our earnings announcement a brief time before the originally scheduled release time," the US computer chips firm said in a statement. 

Earlier, the Financial Times had cited Intel's chief financial officer as saying financially sensitive information was stolen by a hacker from its corporate website. 

CFO George Davis said the leak was the result of an illicit action that had not involved any unintentional disclosure by the company itself, according to the report. 

Meanwhile, Intel's incoming chief executive said that most of the company's 2023 products will be made in Intel factories but he sketched a dual-track future in which it will lean more heavily on outside factories.  

The lack of a strong embrace of outsourcing from new CEO Pat Gelsinger drove shares down 4.7% after hours. 

Shares rose 6.5% during regular trade, when the results were released ahead of the close. 

Intel also forecast first-quarter revenue and profit above Wall Street expectations, continuing to benefit from pandemic demand for laptops and PCs that have powered the shift to working and playing from home. 

Gelsinger said he was "confident that the majority of our 2023 products will be manufactured internally" though he also said the use of outside chip factories is likely to increase "for certain technologies and products." 

Intel has been considering since last July whether to drop its decades-old strategy of both designing and making chips by turning for help on its central processing units, or CPUS, to "foundry" manufacturers. Those partners could be Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Samsung Electronics.

Intel's manufacturing technology, called a 7-nanometer process, is expected in 2023. 

Keeping manufacturing in-house means higher investments.

Analysts questioned whether Gelsinger, currently the chief executive of VMware who previously spent 30 years at Intel and announced his intention to return just last week, has had sufficient time to dig into the issue. 

Boosted by a new high-end PC processor, Intel regained some momentum in the PC market in the fourth quarter, with volumes of PC chips rising 33%, faster than the 26% rise for the overall PC market, according to data from IDC. 

Data centre group sales, which powered Intel's growth over the past several years, were $6.1 billion compared with analyst estimates of $5.48 billion, according to FactSet data. 

But sales to cloud computing customers, some of the largest and fastest-growing purchasers of data centre chips, were down 15% in the fourth quarter. Data centre chip operating margins were 34% in the quarter, down from 48% a year earlier. 

"We think (data centre) operating margins are going to improve as we get toward the second half of the year, when we expect to see a rebound in cloud" chip sales, Intel's chief financial officer George Davis said. 

The company also raised its dividend by 5%. 

The chipmaker said it expects fiscal first-quarter adjusted sales of $17.5 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.10, both ahead of analyst consensus, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. 

Fourth-quarter revenue of $20 billion and adjusted earnings per share of $1.52 also beat Wall Street targets.