Tech Stocks Take Beating: What's Going On Here?

Here we are on the eve of the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a kind of senior prom for the tech industry, when everyone seems to feel really good about themselves and the innovations they're bringing to the market.

But you wouldn't know it by the tech-wreck shaping up on Wall Street today. So many micro and macro economic issues plaguing investors and their outlook that some of the industry's highest flyers are taking the biggest headers. I see the issues; I hear the worries about recession; the ongoing credit crunch and sub-prime worries; unemployment on the rise. And I know the potential impact all that could have on all kinds of consumer electronics. I get it.

But to take companies down this significantly misses the broader, global economic factors that play into so many of these companies. It's true that America's cold could turn into an overseas flu, but the jury's still out on that one and such a broad-based sell-off could present a nice opportunity for the longer-term investor.

I'm not saying to throw caution to the wind and buy anything that builds something that needs a battery. I think AMD has serious issues and today's 8 percent decline makes sense. Same goes with Palm and that company's 6 percent decline today. And, though surprisingly that stock isn't seeing nearly the negative spin others are.

But a 7 percent drubbing at Intel Corp.? A 3 percent decline at Apple? Almost 5 percent at Research In Motion? Microsoft down 3 percent. Same for Hewlett-Packard, Amazon,Cisco, and Google. Name the company and it's caught up in the downdraft. And it's ugly. The NASDAQ is getting crushed. The Philly SOX Index is down 4 percent; the Morgan Stanley High Tech 35 off 3 percent. Much of this seems terribly overdone.


Especially the Intel news: downgrades this week from analysts who are tracking a slowdown in the company's business during this quarter. But seasonally, Intel always sees a slowdown in its business this time of year. Same goes for many of these companies seeing shares pared today. Seems to me caution is always a useful trait for any investor, particularly those involved in various parts of the tech sector.

But as I've said before, this kind of volatility poses a nice opportunity for the careful, choosy investor, especially those with longer term time-horizons. And especially ahead of some of the biggest events for tech all year: next week's CES, and Macworld the following week.

And that's what makes a market.

Questions? Comments?