Intel posted stronger-than-expected results but failed to provide a formal revenue outlook for the current quarter, sending its shares down 4.6 percent.

The world's top chipmaker said on Tuesday it believes personal computer sales hit bottom in the quarter, but noted that visibility was still not good enough to make a precise prediction about the second quarter.

Intel said for internal purposes it was planning for revenue to be flat after the first quarter's $7.1 billion, compared with analysts' average estimate of $7 billion.

We did see signs that the PC market bottomed out in the first quarter, said Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith, noting that first-quarter financial performance was a little better than the company had expected.

But there still is a lot of economic uncertainty out there that creates a wider range of potential outcomes than normal.

Intel reported a net profit in the first quarter ended March 28 of $647 million, or 11 cents a share, down 55 percent from $1.44 billion, or 25 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a profit of 3 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell 26 percent to $7.1 billion, versus the average analyst estimate of $6.98 billion.

Gross margins, a closely watched barometer, were 45.6 percent in the first quarter versus a Wall Street forecast of 43.5 percent. For the second quarter, the company expects margins to remain in the mid-40s.

The numbers were good but people were expecting stronger commentary. Instead we got flattish expectations, said Avi Cohen, managing partner of Avian Securities.

The shares are down because people were disappointed with the lack of specific guidance. People knew it was going to be north of $7 billion but they wanted to know how much Intel was willing to commit to the next quarter.

Shares of Santa Clara, California-based Intel rose 3 cents to close at $16.01 on Nasdaq but fell to $15.27 in extended trade.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway and Clare Baldwin; editing by Richard Chang)