SAN FRANCISCO - Afternoon rumors that chip giant Intel (INTC) - Get Report might miss first-quarter estimates weighed on Intel stock and the whole tech-laden Nasdaq, traders say.

Given last week's

downgrades from

NationsBanc Montgomery Securities

and

Donaldson Lufkin Jenrette

, speculation that the chipmaker's quarter might be light is nothing new, but the fresh talk that surfaced on Tuesday afternoon still pulled down Intel shares.

A trader said Tuesday that Intel asked its sales force to collect as many orders as possible by Thursday. The implication is that Intel sales are light this quarter, and might not meet expectations. The company declined to comment.

"All tech basically reversed" when the rumor hit, the trader said. Indeed,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

,

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

Compaq

(CPQ)

and

Intel

all started slipping south around midsession.

But not all analysts bought the rumor. "If they were going to miss the quarter, they would have preannounced last week," says David Wu, analyst at

ABN-Amro

. He says last week would have been the final chance for the chipmaker to preannounce. Wu remains optimistic that Intel will "deliver a respectable year and a respectable quarter," and estimates Intel will earn $1.18 per share in the first quarter. That is higher than

First Call's

consensus of $1.10 a share.

Another analyst notes that, even if the rumors are true and Intel is concerned about the quarter, it is important to discern whether the company is nervous about meeting its own estimates or meeting Wall Street's estimates. He says Intel has guided analysts to expect a flat to slightly lower quarter, but that Wall Street may have gotten ahead of itself and modeled Intel too high.

In addition,

Briefing.com

reported that

Goldman Sachs

put a technical sell on Intel. This is not a ratings change, only a sell order based on Intel's technical outlook.

Jitters in the chip market were highlighted late Monday when

Advanced Micro Devices

(AMD) - Get Report

warned it would report a

significant loss in the first quarter and cut 300 jobs over the next two quarters.

But, "just because AMD lost money, doesn't mean that Intel can't make money," Wu says.

Intel shares ended down 4 1/4, or 3.6%, at 115 5/16, while AMD finished down 1 7/8, or 7.6%, at 17 1/2.

SAP Weakens After Analyst Conference

Shares of enterprise software company

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

lost 1 5/16, or 4.6%, to 27 3/8 -- its lowest price since January 1998 -- after analysts walked away from a SAP conference in New York with uneasy feelings about the company's outlook.

An analyst who attended the conference says the company revealed the first quarter would be "sluggish." He says orders visibility for the German company look limited for the first two quarters.

The analyst also notes that worries emerged over the company's ability to keep employees, since German regulation prevents SAP from issuing stock options.

Lycos Rises on Hopes of Better Deal

Lycos

(LCOS)

ended the day up on hopes that the company would get a better deal in the proposed merger with

USA Networks

(USAI) - Get Report

.

CMGI

(CMGI)

CEO David Wetherell resigned from Lycos' board and hired investment bank

Morgan Stanley

to try to rally up Lycos shareholders to demand a better deal.

A month ago, Lycos and USA Networks announced a deal that would put television executive Barry Diller in charge of a new media-electronic commerce conglomerate.

Lycos ended up 12 1/4 or 14.6%, at 96 1/4 while USA Networks lost 13/16, or 2.1%, at 37 11/16.

IPO update

RoweCom

(ROWE)

, which went public today at $16 per share, rose 8 9/16, or 53.5%, to 24 1/2. The company manages magazine subscriptions for companies on the Web.