Midday Report: Nasdaq Slides on Tech Jitters

Slumping technology stocks dragged the Nasdaq Composite Index lower again on Monday, as more companies weighed in with warnings about results for the quarter just ended.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index was down 16.48 at 1,823.78 at midday, led by drops in Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) and Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL).

Meanwhile, after an economic report suggested that the manufacturing slump may be ending, blue chips rose early in the morning — then fell sharply. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 19.41 at 9,859.37 after having measured as high as 9,992.53. The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was down 1.88 at 1,158.45.

The National Association of Purchasing Management reported that its index of business activity rose more than expected in March.

I2 Gains, Art Technology Falls

I2 Technologies (Nasdaq: ITWO) was up US$2.19 at $16.69, even after the maker of business-to-business (B2B) software lowered its outlook for first-quarter results and said that it may reduce its workforce by 10 percent and take a charge to second-quarter earnings.

I2 said that it expects earnings before amortization, writeoffs and other items of about 2 cents per share, down from 4 cents a year earlier and below analysts’ consensus forecast of 5 cents. Revenue, however, will be higher, I2 said.

Another e-commerce software maker, Art Technology (Nasdaq: ARTG), was down $5.94 to $6.06 after saying it expects a wider loss for the first quarter ended March 31st, as customers cut back on technology spending.

Art Technology also said it is “looking closely at every possible means” of cutting costs and has postponed expansion plans.

Priceline Rises on Forecast

The E-Commerce Times Index was down 0.91 percent at midday, dragged lower by declines in Egghead Software (Nasdaq: EGGS), PetSmart (Nasdaq: PETM) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), among others.

Travelocity (Nasdaq: TVLY), eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) and Cyberian Outpost (Nasdaq: COOL) were all higher.

Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN) rose 50 cents to $3.03 after reaffirming its financial targets for the first half of this year. Priceline said results for the first quarter will probably come in at the “favorable end” of the forecast it gave in February for a first-quarter loss of 5 to 7 cents per share before restructuring charges, payroll taxes and other costs.

Priceline also repeated its goal of achieving a pro forma operating profit in the second quarter, with revenue rising 10 to 15 percent over first-quarter levels.

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