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Wall Street Beat: Tech sector faces turbulent market

Marc Ferranti | July 1, 2013
Tech closes out the first half of the year only modestly up compared to other sectors.

So while there is good news amid the gloom, the shift from traditional PCs represents a wrenching shift for the market.

"Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products. Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in the report.

There will be winners and losers as the market changes. For example, BlackBerry's attempts to recapture its past glory as a mobile market leader are faltering.

On Friday, BlackBerry said it suffered a US$84 million loss during the three months to June 1. The company shipped 6.8 million smartphones in the quarter, 2.7 million of which were running the new BlackBerry OS. But many analysts were hoping for a profit and sales of at least 7.5 million phones. CEO Thorsten Heins asked for more time in a conference call to discuss the results, saying that "BlackBerry 10 is still in the early stages of its transition."

But the market reacted violently, as BlackBerry shares plunged by 27.76 percent to close at $10.46.

Meanwhile, the software market was supposed to be a bright spot for tech this year, but recent results point to a rough quarter for enterprise vendors. Last week, though Red Hat reported a solid quarter, Oracle revenue was soft, and Tibco's sales and profit declined year over year.

Though Oracle reported a 10 percent year-over-year increase in profit, to $3.8 billion, revenue for the three months ending in May was flat at $10.9 billion. Tibco said revenue for the period ending June 2 was $245.8 million, down from $247.4 million a year earlier, while net income was $8.7 million, down from $26.5 million.

Both companies gave conservative guidance for the next quarter. As earnings season gets under way in earnest in a few weeks, other tech vendors are likely to do the same.

"With the up and down gyrations of Japan, Europe still bumping along the bottom and angst (which we believe is premature) over Fed tightening in the U.S., no sane CFO will put out a big September quarter guide," wrote Canaccord Genuity analyst Richard Davis in a research note. "Investors' nerves are still raw from the choppy March quarter. With software modestly underperforming the market so far this year, the likely reaction from investors will be to sell first and wait for an obvious catalyst to step in."


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