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Tech Stocks to Watch if IT Budgets Decline

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The cloud may not be advancing as quickly as the headlines seem to indicate, while software and security look like areas where companies don't plan to skimp even if the economy sinks into a protracted downturn.

Those are just two of the findings of a new survey of chief information officers conducted by JPMorgan analysts. The research reflects data compiled in two separate rounds of questioning. 100 CIOs participated in the first round, which was conducted in the late July to mid August timeframe, while 84 participated in the second round during the first three weeks of September, when the survey concentrated on spending budgets.

"According to our CIO survey, software, security, and server virtualization remain top IT priorities," the firm writes. "Tablet and mobile device integration in enterprise environments also ranked high. Meanwhile, the pace of cloud adoption seems slower than all of the marketing hype would suggest. On a more cautionary note, services, printing, and PCs appear most at risk if IT budgets come under protracted pressure."

The hard news from the survey is that 28 of the 84 CIOs participating in the follow-up round said they were planning to change their prior 2011 IT spending plans with 24 of those saying a decrease was in the offing. Of those 24, 10 were in control of budgets ranging from $500 million to $1 billion. The overall percentage of CIOs who were lowering their spending on a year-over-year increased to 31% in the follow-up round from 22% in the initial round.

"In our view, this sort of sudden change related to medium to large-sized budgets in 30-45 days suggests that more cuts are likely in the near to mid term," JPMorgan said, adding later: "Our main concern is that the next few months could become tougher if macroeconomic challenges persist and the U.S. Dollar continues to strengthen. When the U.S. Dollar strengthens the cost of procuring IT goods and services from the U.S. becomes higher, and this currency dynamic has been a thorn in the past."

A bit of information on the CIOs participating in the survey. The firm said 66% of the executives worked at companies with 10,000 employees or more, and that 75% had IT investments concentrated in North America with the remainder split between the EMEA Europe, Middle East, and Africa region (13%) and Asia-Pacific (12%).

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