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Apple Doubts Deepen: Tech Weekly

Despite deepening concerns about Apple's growth prospects, JPMorgan analysts have reiterated their "overweight" rating on Apple with a price target of $725.

In deals news this week, the battle for Dell ( DELL ) will continue without private equity giant Blackstone Group (BX - Get Report).

Blackstone Group said Friday it is withdrawing a $14.25 a share proposal for Dell because of recent sharp declines in the personal computer market, which undercut the prospect of a turnaround. Earlier this month, technology research firm International Data Corporation said PC shipments in the U.S. fell 13.9% year-over-year to 76.3 million units in the first quarter, sharply worse than the 7.7% the firm had forecast.

Blackstone's withdrawal leaves a $13.65 a share bid for Dell by Silver Lake Partners and founder Michael Dell, as well as a $15 a share proposal for a controlling stake in Dell floated by activist investor Carl Icahn, with both offers running a close contest.

Blackstone Ditches $25 Billion Dell Deal Amid PC Declines

First-quarter results from Google (GOOG - Get Report) beat estimates, as earnings came in well above expectations.

Earnings were aided by an 8% tax rate during the quarter. On the conference call, CFO Patrick Pichette noted this was helped by an R&D tax credit from 2012 that was only retroactively applied in 2013, as well as a mix in earnings.

TheStreet's Antoine Gara reported that Google's falling income tax rate appears to be a driver of the company's overall earnings quality, adding that the tech giant's falling tax rate amid rising profits may be explained by tax shelters.

Bloomberg has reported extensively on how Google finds tax benefits from its international subsidiaries. In Ireland, for instance, one appears to shelter the company from U.S. taxes. In a move known as a "Double Irish," a company shifts income from a higher-tax country to those that have lower-tax rates.

IBM (IBM - Get Report) missed Wall Street's top- and bottom-line estimates in its first-quarter results as a weak Japanese Yen weighed down profits. The company reiterated its fiscal 2013 earnings forecast.

IBM noted that a deterioration in the Yen since mid-January reduced the company's earnings by 7 cents a share.

The company's software revenue was flat year-over-year, or up 1% adjusted for the effects of currency, at $5.6 billion. IBM's Global Technology Services revenue decreased 4%, or 2% adjusted for currency, to $9.6 billion. The firm's hardware business experienced an even sharper decline, with revenue from its Systems and Technology segment falling 17%, or 16% adjusted for currency, to $3.1 billion.
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