SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite Friday's "it-could-have-been-worse" GDP data, not much of what we've seen in semiconductor earnings this week suggests a turnaround for the sector -- and therefore, tech stocks in general -- anytime soon.
exchange-traded fund has clawed back nearly 15% of its value from its low on Nov. 21, but investors have still endured a drop of more than 40% since last August.
The ETF was recently off 1.6% to $16.95.
Four of the fund's top holdings offered profit reports this week, and their combined outlook for the future did little to offer much near-term hope:
- Texas Instruments (TXN) - Get Texas Instruments Incorporated Report projected that revenue for its current first quarter could fall by as much as 35% from the fourth quarter, and the company plans to slash 12% of its workforce.
- KLA-Tencor (KLAC) - Get KLA Corporation (KLAC) Report posted a fiscal second-quarter revenue decline of 37.6% and used the dreaded "limited visibility regarding future market conditions" phrase as to why it is slashing costs. (The stock did shoot higher on Friday on the bullish news that current-quarter revenue could actually outperform analysts' expectations, despite that being a 50% drop-off from a year ago).
- Altera (ALTR) - Get Altair Engineering Inc. Class A Report said it expects first-quarter revenue to slide 15% to 25% sequentially, missing analysts' forecasts by about 15%.
- Broadcomundefined missed wildly with its fourth-quarter earnings report, and said first-quarter revenue would slide 22% to 27% sequentially, well below the Street's expectations.
Such is the state in the chip sector, with (many) analysts now finally facing the reality of a global demand slowdown and inventory glut by retracting their too-bullish expectations.
In a research note on Friday, investment bank Friedman Billings said it was now modeling a quarterly peak-to-trough revenue decline for Broadcom of 36%, compared with a 53% drop for
, a 42% fall for
, 32% for
, 31% for
and 30% for
Hmm, peak-to-trough declines of up to 50% -- does that remind you of anything? Yes, following the housing-market model is not a ticket to higher prices for chip stocks.
On the other hand, we did see something that came close to resembling "good" news earlier this week in housing with the news that the 10-city Case Shiller Index
from a month earlier.
As writer Joe Weisenthal pointed out, you don't start growing until after the decline starts slowing.
And so it will be with chip stocks. For investors, the light at the end of the tunnel will be visible when year-over-year numbers move in the other direction.
For example, take Intel, which is certainly going to lead the way in any kind of chip turnaround. In its last three quarters, the company posted revenue growth of 9%, 1%, and, most recently, a startling decline of 23%.
What's worse, its
of $7 billion in revenue for the first quarter would represent a 28% decline from a year earlier.
OK, that is technically a decline in the
of slowdown, but at this point you'd forgive investors for waiting a few weeks to see if Intel has found that expectation to be too optimistic.