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For Techs, Are Happy Days Here Again?
"Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge told analysts and investors in a conference call that the economy improved in 2004 from recovery to a period of 'moderate expansion,' from which IBM benefited," the Wall Street Journal reported. "IBM's sales are watched closely as a sign of world-wide capital spending, because almost all of its business is with other companies, and it is unaffected by consumer spending cycles. Mr. Loughridge said IBM expects revenue for the coming year to rise about one percentage point more than analysts' consensus. The forecast suggests slightly better times ahead for tech, but the gains aren't being shared across the board. Indeed, many of tech's biggest winners seem largely to be profiting at competitors' expense."
USA Today: IBM, Yahoo, Motorola Cite Strong World Economy (Same Link as Above)
The Wall Street Journal: IBM Profit Signals Global Strength (Subscription required)
From The New York Times: "I.B.M., Mr. Loughridge said, continues to benefit from a strategy that emphasizes supplying corporate customers with packages of technology -- hardware, software and services -- instead of selling them individual products. That model, he said, has helped the company at a time when business customers are winnowing their rosters of suppliers and trying to avoid the cost and complexity of putting technology components together themselves." According to The Financial Times, Loughridge "predicted that global IT markets would grow 4-6 per cent in 2005 but he added that Wall Street forecasts for 11 per cent earnings growth this year were 'reasonable.'"
The New York Times: I.B.M. Reports Strong Results for 4th Quarter (Registration required)
The Financial Times: Sales Strength Pushes IBM To Outstrip Expectations
Ringing in the New Year
Cell phone handset maker Motorola yesterday delivered its own positive news to investors. "Strong demand for its expanded portfolio of mobile phones including 3G handsets and the hot selling RAZR V3 phone, helped Motorola regain global market share and report strong fourth-quarter sales and profits growth on Tuesday," the Financial Times said.
The Financial Times: Motorola Buoyed By Expanded Portfolio
More from the Chicago Tribune: "The strong fourth quarter capped a year in which Motorola began to erase memories of missed profit goals and missed opportunities in the cell phone market." The Tribune offered this analyst observation too: "That strong performance was rooted in a simple fact: Motorola shipped a lot more phones in the fourth quarter--31.8 million--than Wall Street expected. Expectations were closer to about 27 million, said Brant Thompson, an analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York.
The Chicago Tribune: Motorola Rings Up 34 % Gain (Registration required)
AMD's Reality Check
Chipmaker AMD's latest results should have all the tech-sector prognosticators a little worried this morning. "Slack sales of memory chips contributed to what the chief executive of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. called a 'freaking dismal' fourth quarter: The chip maker lost $30 million," the Los Angeles Times reported. "Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD reported a net loss of $30 million, or 8 cents a share, contrasted with a profit of $43 million, or 12 cents, in the previous year's fourth quarter. The loss came despite record quarterly sales of $1.26 billion, up 5%."
The Los Angeles Times: AMD Reports 'Dismal' Quarter (Registration required)
The Wall Street Journal had a different take on the "freaking dismal" remark, something that you don't hear very often from an executive's mouth each day. "AMD Chief Executive Officer Hector Ruiz, in a conference call, called its flash-memory performance 'freaking dismal,' and added that AMD isn't yet getting its 'fair share' of the microprocessor market. He promised 'bold action' soon to address its problems, including reducing costs and introducing new flash technology more quickly, but he offered no additional specifics." The Associated Press said the "loss capped a year in which the company found itself leading Intel Corp. in the development of advanced microprocessors -- the brains of computers -- but could not make a dent in its much larger rival's market dominance or profitability."
The Wall Street Journal: AMD Posts Loss Of $30 Million For Fourth Period (Subscription required)
The Associated Press via The San Jose Mercury News: AMD Posts $30 Million Q4 Loss (Registration required)
Sour Apple For Dell?
Dell chief executive Kevin Rollins, showing the grace of a kid in a heated dodge ball match, jabbed Apple and its iPods in an interview with CNET yesterday. Rollins conceded that "what they [Apple] do they do very well, and they've had great success with the iPod. It's interesting: The iPod has been out for three years, and it's only this past year it's become a raging success." But he quickly pulled off his kid gloves. "Well, those things that become fads rage, and then they drop off. When I was growing up there was a product made by Sony called the Sony Walkman -- a rage, everyone had to have one. Well, you don't hear about the Walkman anymore. I believe that one-product wonders come and go. You have to have sustainable business models, sustainable strategy. But don't read that as any sort of disparagement of Apple. They've done a nice job." How's that for backpedaling? Rollins also noted Apple has around $2.4 billion in quarterly revenue, compared with $13.5 billion at Dell.
CNET's News.com: Dell's Rollins: Unfazed By iPod, IBM
Filter In Review: Online (In)Security
E-mail worms, viruses, hacker attacks, "phishing" scams, spam and host of other online scourges confront computer users every day when they connect to the Internet. The software powering many computers (re: Windows) is often vulnerable to hacker exploits and must be updated regularly.