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JPMorgan Tech Conference: Investors Take Away a Mixed Bag

SAN FRANCISCO -- Consider the JPMorgan H&Q Tech Conference a kind of buffet of outlooks and opinions.

The past two days of presentations at the 29th annual meeting have served up something for almost any technology investor's appetite.

A little hungry for bear? You could try the outlook given by Applied Micro Circuits (AMCC) -- it doesn't see tech turning around for up to half a year (although, to be fair, its CFO is hoping for a bottom in June).

For appetites that can't take anything that heavy, storage maker Network Appliance's (NTAP) CEO Dan Warmenhoven acknowledged a dreary first half of 2001, but sees some daylight in the second half of the year.

Siebel Systems' (SEBL) CEO Tom Siebel told lunch-goers that it was either cut jobs, or risk the make-it-or-else culture of his software firm. Software company i2 (ITWO) joined in the general gnashing of teeth over a slow first half, but made soothing and hopeful noises about a possible second-half pickup.

Talking about the future, no matter how grim, is a task Computer Associates (CA) would've preferred. Instead, the software company found itself on the defensive for the second day in a row after a scathing New York Times article questioned its accounting.

Some companies found novel ways to deal with not talking about bad news. PeopleSoft (PSFT) decided it didn't have any. And Microsoft (MSFT) took the opportunity to flog Office XP instead of make dull table talk about a possibly lackluster quarter.

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