Even as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the Northeast, causing the evacuation of New York City and the closure of Wall Street for the day, there are some big events planned for the tech sector this week. Earnings continue to roll in, although they are slightly disappointing. At the same time, the tech sector is continuing its breakneck new product launches as the holidays and new year are fast approaching.
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In a radical redesign of its popular operating system software, Microsoft's (Nasdaq:MSFT) new Windows 8 platform officially launches today for consumers and enterprise users. With the new OS, Microsoft has completely replaced the familiar desktop user interface - a PC staple for nearly two decades - with a mosaic of bright colored tiles for software programs and icons. Mr. Softy is offering several versions of the new system: Basic, Pro and Enterprise.
Aside from the appearance issues, the key feature of the software is that it is designed to unify the look of Windows across PCs, tablets and smartphones and is optimized for touch-screens devices such as media PCs and smartphones. Already, several makers across the entire device spectrum including Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Dell (Nasdaq:DELL) have jumped on the operating system's bandwagon. Microsoft itself has also launched its first tablet - the Surface - running its new software.
Overall, analysts are mixed on the system's "boxy" look and on whether or not, Microsoft can really convince its 670 million Windows users to upgrade to the new operating system.
Microsoft is in the news for another reason as well - as possible suitor for online streaming video and DVD provider Netflix (Nasdaq:NFLX). Late Friday evening, Netflix shares surged more than 13% as Forbes speculated that a takeover bid could be in the works. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, stepped away from his position on Microsoft's board of directors, fueling buyout rumors. With Hastings on the board, a potential conflict of interest could arise if Mr. Softy takes a swing at the online content provider. Also, since Microsoft is working towards turning its popular XBOX 360 into a complete entertainment package, a move for Netflix would make sense.
Also on the buyout path is tech turnaround star Yahoo! (Nasdaq:YHOO). The company - now headed by Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) alum Marissa Mayer - has recently begun to realign itself towards mobile solutions. In doing so, the firm announced that it will be buying mobile startup Stamped. That company created an iPhone app which provided users a forum to share and recommend restaurants, movies, books and more. Yahoo! hopes to use the tech firm's engineers and infrastructure to boost its own lacking mobile division.
SEE: Mergers And Acquisitions: Understanding Takeovers
Gamers hope to get good news this week when superstar game producer Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:EA) reports earnings this week. The company, along with rivals such as Take-Two Interactive Software (Nasdaq:TTWO) - which also reports on Tuesday - have been under pressure over the last few years as mobile and social network gaming has taken away console market-share. Analyst estimates are predicting that EA will grow its revenue by 4.4% for the quarter and see earnings per share growth of 100.0%. That works out to be roughly $1.08 billion in revenue and EPS of $0.10.
Social media hopes to build on Zynga's (Nasdaq:ZNGA) better-than-expected numbers when professional social network LinkedIn (Nasdaq:LNKD) and review site Yelp (NYSE:YELP) report this week. LinkedIn is expected to continue to see momentum across its new product lines. That includes its various new analytics programs such as Talent Brand Index and Talent Pipeline. According to the staffer's management, since May, LinkedIn has seen roughly 50% of its recruiter customers beginning to use Talent Pipeline. Overall, Wall Street estimates that LinkedIn will see EPS of 11 cents per share for the quarter.
While Yelp pre-announced its results last week, its official announcement will be better than analysts expected. Yelp reported that it expects revenue of $36.4 million versus analyst expectations of $35.8 million for the period. Yelp also announced it had purchased Qype - Europe's largest local reviews site - for about $50 million in cash and stock.
SEE: Everything Investors Need To Know About Earnings
The Bottom Line
All in all, with earnings season about halfway over, it's been a mixed bag for the tech sector. At the same time, product development remains swift and M&A continues to drive the sectors multiples. For investors, the final two months of the year promises to be an exciting time.
At the time of writing, Aaron Levitt did not own any shares in any company mentioned in this article.