Wall Street Beat: Tech stocks rise despite HP, Dell PC sales declines

Companies beat expectations as solid results, upbeat outlook from other vendors cheer investors

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Earlier in the week, Dell said revenue for the quarter ending Feb. 1 dropped by 11 percent year over year to US$14.3 billion, while profit plummeted 31 percent to $530 million.

It was the fifth straight quarter that the company disclosed declines. Still, the company's results were on the high end of its earlier expectations. And, while the company's PC, storage and services businesses suffered declines, its server and networking business sales were up 18 percent to $2.6 billion.

Major shareholders have voiced opposition to Dell's $24.4 billion plan to go private -- a strategy to operate outside of the intense scrutiny of Wall Street to better execute its move into high-margin products and services. But officials did not comment on the proposed deal in a conference call to discuss results Tuesday.

Dell shares closed up by $0.09 to $13.91 Friday, higher than the $13.65-per-share offer from Michael Dell and his buyout partners, indicating that at least some market players are betting that the company will have to raise its offer.

Other companies announcing earnings this week included:

-- Chip maker Marvell, reporting a 4 percent year-over-year increase in quarterly revenue, to $775 million. Earnings declined from $81 million to $50 million, but the company expects earnings between $0.12 and $0.16 on sales between $700 million and $740 million for the current quarter, handily exceeding analyst projections of $0.13 eanrings per share on $707.8 million in sales.

-- Aruba Networks reported record fiscal second quarter results, as revenue jumped 23 percent year over year to $155.4 million and net income rose to $5 million from a net loss of $11.4 million.

Otherwise, despite continuing concerns about a worldwide economic slowdown, 58 percent of technology CFOs surveyed by BDO anticipate revenue to increase in 2013. The consulting firm polled 100 CFOs at leading U.S. tech companies in December and January. BDO said that the CFOs foresee overall revenue increases of 8.7 percent -- an increase of 6.1 percentage points from 2.6 percent in 2012. Only about one in 10 CFOs surveyed expect revenue to decrease, BDO said.

Merger and acquisition activity is expected to remain strong in 2013, according to the CFOs. "We are at the beginning of a new ecosystem in the tech industry," wrote Aftab Jamil, partner and director of the Technology and Life Sciences practice at BDO. "The 'acquire or retire'  mentality is growing among technology companies who see acquisitions as a way to enhance their IP and gain access to talent that will advance their brand and product portfolio."

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