Updated from 12:38 p.m. EDTThe broader technology market fell sharply Thursday, despite an analyst upgrade for Intel ( INTC) and an upside earnings surprise from Network Appliance ( NTAP). Intel edged down 0.5% after Credit Suisse upgraded shares of the chipmaker to outperform from underperform. The firm said that there is potential for margin expansion, a more favorable competitive landscape in the MPU sector and a strengthening corporate personal computer upgrade cycle, all of which should help shares of the stock. The broker also raised its target price on the stock to $35 from $22.50. Shares closed down 12 cents to $23.10. Meanwhile, Network Appliance rose 4.6% after the maker of data storage devices posted first-quarter results that topped Wall Street's forecast and announced a big stock repurchase plan. The company posted adjusted earnings of $76 million, or 20 cents a share, on revenue of $689 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 19 cents a share. Looking ahead, Network Appliance sees second-quarter adjusted earnings of 24 cents to 26 cents a share on revenue of $752 million to $768 million. Analysts project earnings of 24 cents a share on revenue of $743.2 million. Separately, the company announced that it would buy up to $1 billion in stock through a stock repurchase plan. The new buyback is in addition to the $200 million remaining through previous buyback programs. Shares closed up $1.11 to $25.27. As for the broader technology sector, the Nasdaq 100 was down 18.83 points, or 1%, to about 1846.
Elsewhere, Tower Semiconductor ( TSEM) continued to fall a day after the company provided a third-quarter outlook that rattled investors. After shedding almost 14% of its value on Wednesday, the stock dropped 15.4% on Thursday. The company, which reported mixed second-quarter results, warned that third-quarter revenue would come in at $56 million to $60 million, well below the single-analyst forecast of $66 million. Shares closed down 22 cents to $1.21. Lamson & Sessions ( LMS) soared 31.4% after the maker of electronic components agreed to be acquired by Thomas & Betts ( TNB) for about $450 million, or $27 a share. The all-cash deal represents a 37% premium to Lamson's closing price of $19.64 on Wednesday. Back in early February, Lamson & Sessions said that it was evaluating strategic options, including a sale of the company. The acquisition is expected to close in late 2007. Shares of Lamson & Sessions closed up $6.16 to $25.80 while shares of Thomas & Betts closed down $2.03 to $52.84. Finally, shares of Brooks Automation ( BRKS) traded actively after the chipmaker named a new chief executive. Robert Lepofsky will take over for Edward Grady, who is retiring at the end of September. "We are delighted that a person of Bob Lepofsky's experience and proven leadership and ability to create value for all constituents will lead our company to the next level," Brooks said. Shares closed up 4 cents to $14.18 on volume of more than 1.6 million shares.