Tech earnings: Up, down and all around

January 23, 2009

This is turning out to be an earnings season when all bets are off on how technology giants will perform. With tech earnings taking the market on a roller-coaster ride, it wouldn’t be surprising if investors are a little sick in the stomach already. 

The hits and misses so far among the biggest and brightest:

Intel: Missed expectations, profit fell 90 percent and they said they wouldn’t give a detailed quarterly forecast due to the economic uncertainty.

IBM: Beat expectations and gave an outlook above Wall Street estimates. Not only did IBM shares surge on the news, it even lifted major U.S. indexes.

Apple: Record quarterly earnings made Wall Street delirious. Can’t blame investors for feeling relief after all the worry about CEO Steve Jobs.

Microsoft: Didn’t want to hold on to the bad news until the appointed time, so the it reported earlier than expected on Thursday. Said revenue and profit would almost certainly drop over the next quarter or two. 

Google: Saved the day, kind of, by balancing Microsoft’s disappointing results with news of a quarterly profit that topped Wall Street expectations.

Google gave Jefferies & Co analyst Youssef Squali some hope that the tech sector continues to be more resilient than other sectors. “Although it depends on the severity of the recession,” Squali wrote in an e-mail yesterday. “Nobody is immune forever.”

Squali carried this ominous tone into his Friday morning research note as well, calling this earnings season a “mixed bag” and the 2009 outlook “unanimously poor.”

With Yahoo and Amazon set to report earnings next week and no guarantee what surprises might be in store there, we wonder if investors will just call in sick until next year’s earnings.

(Photo: Reuters)

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