Technology Tumbling

By Aryeh Katz | August 17, 2010 AAA

The last month has witnessed some very volatile trading on the equities market. And while the S&P 500, as represented by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) is down by a marginal 2% over that period, there are a number of tech-related issues that have taken a walloping. To be fair, the tech-heavy Nasdaq has fared slightly worse than the general market. The PowerShares QQQ Trust (Nasdaq:QQQQ), a proxy for the Nasdaq, is off 1% in the last 30 days. But there are other factors that account for the drubbing in the following three issues.

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Earnings Disappointment
Shares in Cisco Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:CSCO) have fallen by more than 8% in the last week, mostly due to disappointing earnings from the company's latest quarterly report. Analysts had been expecting around 40 cents from the computer networking giant, only to be surprised with 33 cents. That beat last year's same quarter results, but didn't prevent a selloff in the shares of nearly 8% in the immediate after-market trade.

Perhaps more distressing than the actual numbers reported was a comment by Cisco Chief John Chambers, who spoke about "unusual uncertainty" in the economy. Amid an otherwise upbeat earnings report, Chambers's words sounded a note of alarm on Wall Street, and may have precipitated much of the day's selling. Chambers also noted mixed signals from Cisco's current customers in his words.

Analysts at Oppenheimer and BMO have downgraded Cisco shares from "outperform" to "market perform", and Morgan Stanley has lowered its earnings estimate for the company through 2012. Reasons cited for the downgrade include "lower gross margins" and "stalled business momentum".

Corporate No-No's
Hewlett Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) stock has sunk by 12% in the last 30 days, due to the forced resignation of the company's CEO over ethical issues related to his misuse of company funds on what the Washington Post termed "a questionable personal relationship." The event shaved $15 billion worth of market cap off the company, leaving the shares almost exactly where they were last July. Hewlett Packard trades with a trailing P/E of 11.5 and yields an annual 0.8%.

Seagate Technology (Nasdaq:STX) is in the business of manufacturing hard disk drives. The company's stock is off 20% in the last month after missing analyst estimates by 7 cents in the last quarter. The street had been expecting $0.77.

The Bottom Line
Earnings season has not been kind to the above three companies. And unless the economic news starts presenting a brighter picture, it's likely we'll see more disappointments going forward. (For more, check out Strategies For Quarterly Earnings Season.)

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