The Negotiator Makes A Buy, RIMM Trys To Save Itself And Your Weekly Tech Update

By Aaron Levitt | November 14, 2012 AAA

With the Presidential election now in the books and the Obama Administration renewed for a second term, the technology sector continues to roll forward. Overall, analysts predict that Obama's re-election will be a positive catalyst for technology. In the wake of the victory for Democrats, that prediction seems to be coming true as the sectors continues to be a hot source of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), dividends and new products.

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Tech-Related Events
In just five months after going public, travel deal search site KAYAK (Nasdaq:KYAK) has negotiated a deal with William Shatner. Not Shatner specifically, but rival Priceline.com (Nasdaq:PCLN). Priceline has offered $1.8 billion in cash and stock for the company, valuing KAYAK at $40 a share. That's roughly a 29% premium to its closing price when the deal was announced. The deal represents a rare departure for Priceline, the company has only acquired four other firms in its history.

SEE: Analyzing An Acquisition Announcement

KAYAK's proprietary software allows users to compare hundreds of travel sites - including Priceline.com - when looking for flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. Users are able to "pass-through" to other websites to complete their bookings and KAYAK then earns fees on those referrals. Priceline has stated that KAYAK will continue to operate independently and will profit from the partnership in its plans to expand internationally. However, some analysts have wondered just how other travel sites like Orbitz (NYSE:OWW) and Travelocity will fare in KAYAK's rankings now that it will be controlled by one of their rivals. However, Wall Street and investors seem impressed with the buy and shares of KAYAK surged on the announcement.

Speaking of announcements, investors in beleaguered device and smartphone maker Research In Motion (Nasdaq:RIMM) may finally have something to smile about. The Canadian tech firm has finally set a launch date for 10 new Blackberry smartphones. The company will unveil its next generation devices on January 30. This includes full touch-screen devices, rather than the traditional qwerty-style keyboard Blackberries are known for.

The new operating system - which looks very similar to the set-up of an iPhone - could be RIMM's last ditch effort and represents its best shot at a turnaround. In recent years, RIMM has seen its market share deteriorate in its home market of North America as Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) and Google's (Nasdaq:GOOG) Android-based smartphones began to dominate. Overall, analysts remain mixed on RIMM's turnaround given the very crowded smartphone market.

As for that crowded smartphone market, the patent wars continue to play out. After a series of court battles with Samsung over its smartphones, Apple in a surprise move has settled with Taiwanese manufacturer HTC. The 10-year licensing deal will allow both firms to continue selling their products globally. The deal - along with patent licensing agreements with Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) - highlights the intensity of the smartphone patent wars and its hefty legal bills. Apple's victory against Samsung in American courts led to a payout of more than $1 billion to Apple. Overall, these patent battles will continue to define the smartphone space.

Upcoming Earnings
With the fourth quarter well underway now, new earnings announcements are beginning to dry up. However, there are a few tech heavyweights left. The biggest of which could be networking leader Cisco (Nasdaq:CSCO).

The company will unveil its earnings on Nov. 13, 2012 and analysts are expecting a pretty good performance from the firm. Cisco has managed to beat estimates for the last four quarters and is coming off recent earnings in which it topped forecasts by 2 cents. Overall, analysts predict net income of 41 cents per share.

Also reporting this week is network storage and cloud computing play NetApp (Nasdaq:NTAP). Unlike Cisco, analysts are dourer on the firm's prospects. Analysts are anticipating that NetApp will report earnings of 48 cents per share. That's roughly 24% less than a year ago and represents a lowered forecast than originally stated. Overall, competition in the cloud computing space as well as lowered IT spending is contributing to the lowered estimates.

SEE: A Primer On Investing In The Tech Industry

The Bottom Line
With President Obama winning a second term, analysts expect big things out of the tech sector. One week later and we have already seen some increased M&A as well as big product launches. For investors, those will continue to be the defining stories in tech for the months to come.

At the time of writing, Aaron Levitt did not own any shares in any company mentioned in this article.

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