Poor PC Sales In January Hit Techs & Apple Hard

Doom and gloom about the US economy continues to dominate the mood on Wall Street. Some corporations are reporting better than expected results, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, which beat the street by 2 pennies, but even when this does happen, an analyst will immediately pronounce such results as unsustainable. It reminds us of the Hanna Barbara cartoon character that would solemnly intone "Itill never work..." whenever someone came up with a plan.

The Dow actually traded on the plus side for most of the morning, then dabbled back and forth in midday trading, only to start a 68 point slide that ended only when the dayis session closed. Tech stocks were hit the hardest today and the Nasdaq spent the entire day in negative territory. At one point in late afternoon trading, some 14% of the index was trading at 52 week lows. Overall, the Nasdaq lost 4.4% of its value today.

The dreaded, and ridiculous, label of "beleaguered" returned to haunt Apple today. In a report by online financial news service On24, the service called Apple "the beleaguered" PC maker. The same report said the SuperDrive allowed users "to download CDs and DVDs and play them on separate players." Thatis a remarkably inaccurate and erroneous way to describe the SuperDrive (we have a thread on this in our Apple Financial Boards). The report also said that buyers were holding off on buying new Mac until Mac OS X started shipping this summer. Again, thatis just wrong as Mac OS X will begin shipping on March 24th. Apple will not be shipping OS X on new systems until this summer however, and that is likely what the service was attempting to say.

PC Data released data for January that showed that PC sales continued to be lower in January across the board. Apple, in particular, saw sales that were lower by 40% over January of 2000 according to PC Data. Notebook sales were also lower by some 37% according to the same study. We will be offering a full report tomorrow. On the plus side, Apple got some positive mainstream press concerning yesterdayis announcement that the 733 MHz PowerMacs were shipping.

Appleis stock started the day off in positive territory, but quickly dropped once the combination of tech worries and the PC Data report hit. AAPL traded in a range of 18 3/16 - 19 7/16, and dipped back below 19 to stay. The stock is closer to its 50-day moving average which is just below US$18. Todayis volume was moderate.

Apple closed at 18 5/16, down 11/16 (-3.62%) on volume of 5,623,200 shares trading hands.

The Nasdaq closed at 2318.35, down 107.03 (-4.41%).

The Dow closed at 10730.88, off by 68.94 (-0.64%).

The S&P 500 made it a family affair by closing at 1278.80, down 22.73 (-1.75%).

Akamai closed at 19 51/64, a loss of 1 29/64 (-6.84%) on light volume of 1,912,500 shares trading hands. Apple is a large shareholder of Akamai.

Adobe closed at 34 1/4, a loss of 2 1/16 (-5.68%) on volume of 5,793,000 shares trading hands.

IBM closed at 111.50, a loss of 3.50 (-3.04%) on volume of 6,743,800 shares trading hands.

Motorola closed at 18.30, down 0.31 (-1.67%) on light volume of 10,624,300 shares trading hands.

Earthlink has been able to stay above the US$9 mark despite recent erosion in that price. Microsoft/MSN buyout rumors may still be playing a part there. The stock closed at 9 1/8, down 1/8 (-1.35%) on light volume of 1,076,000 shares trading hands.

Gateway shed more than 7% of its value today in light trading, suffering from the same report that hit Apple. The stock closed at 18.06, off by 1.49 (-7.62%), on light volume of 2,014,300 shares trading hands.

Dell closed at 22, down 1 1/2 (-6.38%) on light volume of 27,710,000 shares trading hands.

Hewlett Packard closed at 30.50, a loss of 2.63 (-7.94%) on strong volume of 11,194,600 shares trading hands.

Intel announced cost cutting measures that included layoffs through attrition. The company took it on the chin in heavy trading to close at 31 7/16, a loss of 2 15/16 (-8.55%) on strong volume of 52,396,800 shares trading hands.

Microsoft announced a clever campaign to show off its financial services at MSN today. The company is holding a contest that allows investors to compete with Bill Gatesi own stock picks with the company donating 50 cents for every person that signs up. Thatis a clever ploy for eyeballs in our book. The stock closed at 55 7/8, a loss of 1 7/16 (-2.51%) on light volume of 30,364,200 shares trading hands.

For full quotes on all the companies mentioned in this article, we have assembled this set of quotes at Yahoo! for your reference. For other stories regarding Appleis stock activity, visit our updated Apple Stock Watch Special Report. You can also check out our Apple Financial Boards, a new moderated forum for Apple Investors and people who are interested in Appleis financial dealings.