The markets opened Wednesday morning in a climate of tentative uncertainty following five straight days of declines in the Nasdaq Composite Index. Analysts and investors continue to sift through conflicting financial results for indications of broad strength in the economy and growth in corporate earnings.
Results indicate that the technology sector continues to lag the overall economy is signaling growth in revenues and earnings. Analysts will now be looking for information on corporate buying plans and contracts for future hardware sales and software services. Contracts will be signed before renewed activity is reflected in quarterly results. IBM, Sun and Oracle are among the tech sectoris bellwether companies to watch for changes in corporate buying plans and up ticks in sales activity.
On Wednesday the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day at 10,030.43, down 58.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index ended Wednesday at 1,713.34, down 16.95. The index was buoyed in morning trading by good news from Amazon.com but fell late in the day for a 6th straight decline.
Apple held its annual shareholder meeting today, but the results of the meeting failed to help AAPL beat the downward tech trend. According to meeting notes posted by ThinkSecret, Steve Jobs said that Apple had no plans to move Mac OS X to Intelis processors, that the company was working to get digital camera makers to include FireWire ports on their products, and that Apple was "disappointed" that Intuit was scaling back itis Mac support, despite the fact that Intuit Chairman William Campbell holds a seat on Appleis board. From that report:
Mac OS X On Intel. A shareholder raised this in a question, prompting audience laughter and the response from CEO Steve Jobs that the company has "no plans." When the shareholder noted that it could be beneficial to the company, Jobs replied, "That is an opinion."
Digital cameras. A shareholder was interested in Bluetooth support for transferring images from and to his camera. Jobs predicted that this would not take off, because of speed issues. He also said that Apple is encouraging third-party developers to add FireWire ports to their cameras.
William Campbell. A shareholder raised an issue with regard to board member William Campbell from Intuit, since his company is phasing out Mac support. Jobs commented that Apple is disappointed with the move as well.
In other Apple-related news, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates admitted in testimony on Tuesday that at one time Apple was threatened with the loss of a Mac version of Microsoft Office because Apple preferred a browser other than Internet Explorer as the default browser on Macintosh computers. The nine dissident states are pushing for tougher sanctions and more aggressive modifications of Microsoftis corporate behavior than those contained in the Justice Department settlement agreed to by nine other states. Testimony continues before Judge Kollar-Kotelly.
Why all the Webcasts?
This reporting season saw another increase in the number of corporate Webcast conference calls with analysts. Why? Regulation FD, also called Regulation Full Disclosure. The regulation requires corporate management to make the same information available to all parties - analysts, investors and the press.
Regulation FD was enacted to eliminate unfairness in the distribution of corporate information and the practice of first distributing important financial information to favored analysts and large investors. While critics claim the regulation reduces the amount of information available, other see it as a way to make sure the information released both privately and publicly by executives is uniform and treats all investors fairly. One result of RegFD is that executives are apt to be more cautious in their statements to analysts and large investors.
Apple (AAPL) ended the day at $23.77, down $.48. ThinkSecret has posted notes from Appleis shareholder meeting.
Hewlett Packard (HWP) continues to languish amidst legal uncertainty concerning the merger with Compaq. Hewlett Packard ended Wednesday at $17.21, down $.83 .
Oracle Systems (ORCL), the worldis second largest software maker, is decidedly under performing the market. Analysts are closely watching Oracleis activity and sales announcements for indications of new corporate commitments to IT spending. Oracle finished Wednesday at $10.50, down $.62.
Sun Microsystems (SUNW) continues to see its stock trade at the low end of its 52-week range of $23.57 - $7.52. On Wednesday Sun closed at $8.66, down $.19. Microsoftis treatment of Sunis Java technology has been at the center of the arguments between Microsoft and the dissident states.