If earnings season is making tech-stock investors feel like they're on one of those death-defying theme park roller coasters, then they likely can stop to let their stomachs settle this week.
After treating nearly every earnings report like toxic waste early last week, tech investors then leapt on strong earnings reports and ended up pushing the
5% higher for the week. This week's earnings reports aren't expected to have the same impact as those that brought the market carnage after disappointments from
the likes of
redemption from the likes of
This week's calendar includes
, among others. And some traders actually are expecting an uneventful week that brings a bit of a rally driven by institutional investors with some cash on their hands.
Setting the Tone
Had Microsoft missed its Wall Street's expectations, there would have been serious trouble. But the numbers were good; the market reacted well.
"Microsoft set the tone. I think people said, 'The world isn't coming to an end. Let's focus on good earnings,'" says Allan Meyers, a portfolio manager with
Lyon Street Asset Management
That's when the fear waned and the greed kicked back in.
rebound from postearnings-report lows around $32 a share to $44 Friday is a good example, according to Michael Davey, a tech analyst at
"I think the overall sense in the market this week was not to miss the buy-in point," he says, before adding that there's still a healthy amount of fear present. "The feeling by this week is that if a company hasn't preannounced, we're not going to see a major problem."
One of the keys this week is Corning's quarterly report. The stock's strength in the optical-network equipment area has made it a darling among institutional investors. Meyers says he'll keep an eye on Corning because estimates for the company have been rising as the optical-networking business booms. (Meyers owns Corning and Microsoft.)
"Corning will be the catalyst to determine where the balance of the available cash will go in the next two weeks," says Kyle Rosen of the
Rosen Capital Management
hedge fund, which doesn't hold Corning shares.
If Corning results are solid, Rosen says cash likely will flow into it and a few other stubborn Nasdaq highfliers such as
. If not, the cash may flow back into the more battered tech names such as Intel. "There are enough for them to purchase," he says.
And even though utilities and
real estate investment trusts, or REITs, have been strong since April's tech slide, Rosen says it's unlikely growth-fund managers will look to put cash in any stocks outside of the tech and retail sectors.
Investec's Davey says Lucent's earnings could be important if the company comes out with better-than-expected results because its weakness has been priced in during the stock's slide from the 60s in July to $22 at Friday's close. "It could snap back," he says. (Investec hasn't done any underwriting for Lucent.)
Even Meyers, who has a predilection for value stocks, says he thinks the market has "beat up tech stocks too much" but adds that, "The valuations will not be reaching the extremes of February and March again."
Even if they don't, and even if earnings reports disappoint investors, Davey thinks it's unlikely investors will evacuate the sector. "People don't want to let go of the idea that tech is the road to riches," he says.