Earnings season remains in full swing for the tech sector, as the industry's stalwarts have now begun to report their quarterly results. Already we've seen a pattern of slowing earnings growth and lower fourth quarter and full-year 2013 guidance. The gadget and gizmo makers hope to reverse that trend as they launch their new products just in time for the critical holiday season.
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Speaking of those new gadgets, venerable software firm Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) is launching what it hopes to be the first real contender to Apple's (Nasdaq:AAPL) popular iPad. Its two Surface RT tablet PCs running its new Windows 8 operating system will hit retailers this week. The device will feature some pretty competitive high-tech specs including a 10.6-inch display, an NVIDIA (Nasdaq:NVDA) Tegra 3 processor and relatively inexpensive price range of $499 to $699 depending on hardware configuration.
More importantly, the Surface comes with a preview of Microsoft's dominant productivity software suite - Office. Currently, the popular programs - such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint - aren't available on any other tablet PC. That could be a game changer for the industry, as busy Execs could choose the device as their go-to travel workstation. Mr. Softy will certainly need any edge it can get. Apple is rumored to be unveiling its own new tablet device - the iPad Mini - at a press event this Tuesday. That seven-inch device and its estimated $249 price tag could steal all the Surface's thunder. Either way, tablet market continues to grow and offer plenty of opportunities.
Despite its own critically-lauded Nexus tablet, Google's (Nasdaq:GOOG) earnings bungle could be the tech story of the week. A press release and printing error caused the search giant to announce its earnings prematurely this past Friday - and the numbers weren't good. Google blamed the botched release on its financial printers, R.R. Donnelley & Sons (Nasdaq:RRD). However, the earnings miss was all Google's fault. Overall, the company reported below analyst expected earnings and a decline in average cost-per-click. That critical metric is the price advertisers pay Google for its services and is the fourth consecutive quarter of decline.
Needless to say, shares of the integrated tech firm fell hard and plunged roughly 9%. Google's weighting in the NASDAQ also hurt the broad index as well.
Also seeing big-time red this past week was chip marker Marvell (Nasdaq:MRVL). Shares of the firm fell more than 11%, as it received a big downgrade from FBR Capital. In a client research note, analyst Craig Berger wrote, "We are throwing in the towel."
The firm citied Marvell's continued lowered revenue forecasts and the surprise departure of its CFO. The company is now trading at levels not seen since the Great Recession.
SEE: How To Decode A Company's Earnings Reports
This week will see earnings announcements from Social media "darlings" Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) and Zynga (Nasdaq:ZNGA). Both are expected to report less-than-stellar results. Zynga, maker of popular online games such as Word's With Friends and Farmville , has already lowered its full-year 2012 outlook as more users are spending less real dough in its virtual worlds. Secondly, a series of poor acquisitions is also expected to hurt the company's bottom line.
At the same time, Facebook is expected to produce poor results as well. The social network is expected to earn just 11 cents per-share on revenue of $1.23 billion. Analysts peg Facebook's average for 2012 earnings at just 48 cents a share. Those are lower early projections and many analysts are bearish on the company's 2013 prospects. Additionally, the final round of share lock-ups from insiders also ends this week. Overall, that could push the social media firm down to new lows.
Finally, investors will be looking for some good news from online and DVD entertainment provider Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX). However, they may be in for more bad news. Analysts expect the company to make a profit of five cents per share. In spite of this profit, that's a decline of 95.7% from Netflix's earnings for the same quarter a year ago. Overall, analysts peg the souring economy and poor consumer spending as factors that are hurting the company's subscription-based services.
SEE: Everything Investors Need To Know About Earnings
The Bottom Line
So far, the tech sector has seen some pretty paltry earnings announcements. Those earnings seem to be getting worse as we move into the sector's periphery. Overall, the rest of the quarter could see similar results. Yet, there is some hope for the fourth quarter as hot new devices begin to be sold.
At the time of writing, Aaron Levitt did not own any shares in any company mentioned in this article.