With the air starting to feel crisp and the leaves on the trees starting to turn bright colors, autumn is in full swing. It also means the start of the critical fourth quarter is upon us. For the technology sector, the quarter is starting with a bang. Investors can expect a plethora of earnings announcements and product launches just in time for the holiday season. At the same time, there are plenty of interesting developments, mergers and acquisitions, and deals on the horizon.

Discount Brokers Comparison: Your one-stop shop for finding the perfect broker for your investments.

Tech-Related News
Just after T-Mobile decided to snatch-up smaller wireless provider MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS) for $1.5 billion, Sprint (NYSE:S) may have finally found a suitor. According to Reuters, Japan's Softbank - that nation's third-largest mobile carrier - is in talks to buy a majority stake in the beleaguered wireless firm for more than $12.8 billion. Sources told the press wire that the company is in talks with several banks to borrow money to finance a bid and could offer a 27% premium for the American wireless carrier.

SEE: Analyzing An Acquisition Announcement

Analysts estimate that Sprint could be attractive to Softbank due to its majority interest in Clearwire (Nasdaq:CLWR) which owns 2.5GHz spectrum as well as the fact that the deal would allow Softbank to acquire smartphones and other mobile devices cheaper.

While you may never have heard of tiny-tech firm Vringo (NYSE:VRNG), the company is quickly becoming a firecracker in the industry. The relatively small company is becoming a major player in the wireless and mobile patent wars as its intellectual property portfolio covers various aspects of search and mobile technologies.

The company has a litigation machine and in 2011 filed a lawsuit against Google (Nasdaq:GOOG), AOL (NYSE:AOL) and InterActiveCorp (Nasdaq:IACI) stating that they violated two acquired patents. Google recently denied a motion for a summary dismissal of Vringo's patent lawsuit. Already a few of the participants have agreed to settle and winning the various damages could be a big deal for the tiny tech firm. Shares of the firm are up more than 381% year to date.

Finally, semiconductor stalwart Intel (Nasdaq:INTC) received a big downgrade from analysts. According to the Associated Press, a Bernstein Research analyst downgraded the chip maker to "Underperform" from "Market Perform." Citing long-term pricing pressures with the PC and ultrabook market, Stacy Rasgon believes that Intel will have trouble growing its revenue over the next year or so. Additionally, the target price went from $24 to $20.

SEE: A Primer On Investing In The Tech Industry

Upcoming Earnings
Next week will feature some earnings announcements from tech heavyweights like IBM (NYSE:IBM). Big Blue is set announce earnings on October 16 and the 24 analysts expect the tech giant to report earnings of $3.61 per share for the quarter. That's roughly 10% higher versus a year ago. Overall, IBM has beaten analysts' estimates the last four quarters and is coming off a quarter where it topped forecasts by 6 cents.

Following IBM this week is Light Emitting Diode (LED) superstar CREE (Nasdaq:CREE). The company develops and manufactures semiconductors in the LED space and continues to be one of the top innovators across both the commercial and residential spaces. Back in May, it introduced the industry's first LED downlight that can match traditional tube fluorescents on price. Analysts expect CREE to see a net income of 26 cents per share - a rise of 4% from the company's earnings for the year-ago quarter.

The Bottom Line
Merger activity as well as patent litigation remains the top headlines in the tech sector. Undoubtedly more of these sorts of developments will play out in the months ahead. In the meantime, earning's season is just getting started with some of tech's heavyweights beginning to report.

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

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Company Overview: Qlogic (QLGC)

    Learn more about the world's leading manufacturer of Fibre Channel network adapters, a key component in high-speed corporate storage networks and data centers.
  2. Chart Advisor

    Watch This ETF For Signs Of A Reversal (BCX)

    Trying to determine if the commodity markets are ready for a bounce? Take a look at the analysis of this ETF to find out if now is the time to buy.
  3. Investing News

    What You Can Learn from Carl Icahn's Mistakes

    Carl Icahn has been a stellar performer in the investment world for decades, but following his lead these days could be dangerous.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETFs Can Be Safe Investments, If Used Correctly

    Learn about how ETFs can be a safe investment option if you know which funds to choose, including the basics of both indexed and leveraged ETFs.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    The Top 5 Large Cap Core ETFs for 2016 (VUG, SPLV)

    Look out for these five ETFs in 2016, and learn why investors should closely watch how the Federal Reserve moves heading into the new year.
  6. Economics

    India: Why it Might Pay to Be Bullish Right Now

    Many investors are bullish on India for all the right reasons. Does it present an investing opportunity?
  7. Stock Analysis

    Analyzing Altria's Return on Equity (ROE) (MO)

    Learn about Altria Group's return on equity (ROE) and analyze net profit margin, asset turnover and financial leverage to determine what is causing its high ROE.
  8. Investing Basics

    Building My Portfolio with BlackRock ETFs and Mutual Funds (ITOT, IXUS)

    Find out how to construct the ideal investment portfolio utilizing BlackRock's tools, resources and its popular low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
  9. Investing

    What Investors Need to Know About Returns in 2016

    Last year wasn’t a great one for investors seeking solid returns, so here are three things we believe all investors need to know about returns in 2016.
  10. Investing News

    Icahn's Bet on Cheniere Energy: Should You Follow?

    Investing legend Carl Icahn continues to lose money on Cheniere Energy, but he's increasing his stake. Should you follow his lead?
RELATED FAQS
  1. Should mutual funds be subject to more regulation?

    Mutual funds, when compared to other types of pooled investments such as hedge funds, have very strict regulations. In fact, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do ETFs pay capital gains?

    Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can generate capital gains that are transferred to shareholders, typically once a year, triggering ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do real estate hedge funds work?

    A hedge fund is a type of investment vehicle and business structure that aggregates capital from multiple investors and invests ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Are Vanguard ETFs commission-free?

    While some Vanguard exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are available commission-free from third-party brokers, a large portion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Do Vanguard ETFs require a minimum investment?

    Vanguard completely waives any U.S. dollar minimum amounts to buy its exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and the minimum ETF investment ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can mutual fund expense ratios be negative?

    Mutual fund expense ratios cannot be negative. An expense ratio is the sum total of all fees charged by an asset management ... Read Full Answer >>
COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center