Pulse: Good News Not Enough for Palm and Research in Motion

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The

Nasdaq Composite

stopped just short of an eighth straight losing session as an early bargain-hunting session among tech stocks almost turned sour in the face of continuing poor earnings reports.

Even relatively good news wasn't especially well received.

Palm

(PALM)

, which brought in numbers at the high end of its forecast, got smacked today, apparently because the news wasn't quite good enough.

Palm announced $522 million in revenue for the quarter and beat Street estimates by a penny a share.

"They didn't meet the whisper number," said

Lehman Brothers

analyst Joseph To. "Some people are looking for any chink in the armor."

Palm closed down $12.50, or 32.8%, to $25.63.

Research in Motion

(RIMM)

, which makes the Blackberry handheld device, went the same route, despite beating Street estimates of a penny-a-share loss and earning two cents a share. Research in Motion closed down $9.06, or 12.1%, to $65.94.

Elsewhere, warning and bad reports sent related shares tumbling like dominoes.

Streaming media leader

RealNetworks

(RNWK) - Get Report

lowered its forecasts for the fourth quarter and for 2001. Multiple downgrades followed. So did the prices of some related stocks.

RealNetworks closed down $4.37, or 44%, to $5.56.

Thomas Weisel

downgraded

Akamai Technologies

(AKAM) - Get Report

because the miss by RealNetworks indicated a potentially slower rollout of servers. Akamai ended the day down 11.5%.

Modem maker

Conexant

(CNXT) - Get Report

warned yesterday that its fourth-quarter revenues were going to fall as a result of weaker end demand. That got revised estimates from

WR Hambrecht

for chipmakers

Xilinx

(XLNX) - Get Report

and

Broadcom

, which make semiconductors used in high-speed Internet access.

Conexant closed down $6.37, or 31.3%, to $14. Broadcom finished down 14.1%, and Xilinx ended the day up 1.9%

2:57 p.m.: Most Networkers Shaking Off Lucent's Woes

Bargain hunters were creeping back into networking stocks after Wednesday's broad tech selloff, mostly unfazed by the weird family reunion of

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

and its spin-off

Lucent

(LU)

. Both companies issued earnings warnings one right after the other since the market closed yesterday.

Lucent this morning said its first-quarter revenues would

fall far short and that it was undertaking a $1 billion cost-cutting reorganization. Lucent also readjusted its third quarter report, saying the $125 million in "revenue recognition" problems had grown to $679 million.

Investors and analysts were taking the position that Lucent's most recent problem was most likely its own fault. The company, after all, has been plagued by problems and this was its fifth consecutive warning this year. "It seems to me the problem is internal controls," said analyst Charles DiSanza of

Gerard Klauer Mattison

, noting that Lucent began issuing warnings as far back as January. The firm has done no recent underwriting for Lucent.

Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Ching also wrote that even though Lucent blamed weaker technology demand for its problems, "we also believe that Lucent's problems are company-specific."

Investors seemed to agree. In recent trading Lucent was down $1.37, or 8.9%, to $14.13, a new 52-week low.

Still, several of its networking competitors seemed to be holding their own. To be sure, these stocks have taken their own beatings recently, and investors might have thought they could snap up some good prices. They were buying

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

, which hit a 52-week low yesterday. Today Cisco was trading up $3.25, or 8.9%, to $39.75. But let's not sugar coat the situation. Cisco is still trading far off its 52-week high of $82.

Chief networking rival

Nortel

(NT)

, which recently reaffirmed its fourth-quarter numbers, was up 2.6%. Some observers, however, suggest Nortel will meet its fourth-quarter targets only by

pushing sales up from the first quarter. This, of course, would set next year off on the wrong foot, and investors are already finding it hard to get cheery about 2001. Last quarter, remember, Nortel

blindsided the Street with a disappointing optical sales forecast.

Cisco, Nortel and Lucent have all increased their

financing efforts for customers as telcos find their traditional capital sources drying up. Investors question whether bankrolling network building projects is a wise move at a time when so many telcos are encountering financial trouble.

TheStreet.com

recently wrote about what these

efforts mean for the networkers.

But as the Nasdaq has come down from earlier highs today, some former gainers for the day were recently lower.

Ciena

(CIEN) - Get Report

, which was up more than 6% earlier today, was lately off 1.3%. And

Juniper

(JNPR) - Get Report

was lately off 5.2%.