Alcoamay have kicked off earnings season last week, but this week, the biggest names in the tech sector take center stage: Intel and IBM tomorrow: eBay Wednesday; Microsoft and Googleon Thursday. There are others of course, but these four will steal the lion's share of attention.
For Inteltomorrow, analysts expect a pretty solid second quarter for the world's largest chipmaker. The company is wiping the microprocessor floor with rival Advanced Micro Devices (set to report Thursday, but pre-announcing more staggering charges and what appears to be a deepening financial morass last week). Intel unveiled its latest laptop chips today, code-named Montevina, but essentially Centrino II. Low-power, HDTV on your laptop, WiMax on board. Cool stuff that shows innovation and Moore's Law are both still alive and well in Santa Clara, Calif. Intel will also celebrate its 40th anniversary on Thursday.
Analysts are looking for 25 cents on $9.32 billion. The other key metric: gross margins. The Street expects 56 percent, and fairly lackluster guidance--both already baked into shares.
As we get closer through the week, I'll go deeper into each of these issues, but one thing seems clear; one trend seems to apply to all these specific names, except maybe eBay: when this recover in the economy takes hold, these are the names that will likely enjoy the dividends first. We've already seen an uptick in PC growth, good for both Intel and Microsoft. IBMhas been soaring for much of the year because worries about a collapse in enterprise spending might have been overblown.
And that's good for Microsoftas well, even though it faces continuing challenges with Vista, already well-documented, as has the company's ongoing takeover saga with Yahoo. Color on both is expected Thursday on the conference call, if not before.
As far as eBay is concerned: I'm still concerned over the shifting market place that seems to give Amazon.com a leg up; and while recession worries have shoppers continuing to bargain-hunt, Amazon and its pack-and-ship model still seems more compelling than eBay's hodge-podge of auctions. Still, PayPal still seems strong, and if eBay can increase margins and show some growth in Gross Merchandise Volume and listings, that could be a surprising boost to shares. Otherwise, eBay runs the risk of dead money, at least for awhile.
And of course, we'll have complete coverage all week long, here, and on the air. Check back soon!
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