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Tech Industry

STOCKS TO WATCH: Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Rambus and Sybase

    Expect the following technology stocks to be among Wednesday's most actively traded issues: Apple, Intel, Microsoft, Rambus and Sybase.

  • Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL)

    Apple should be worth watching Wednesday after it topped analysts' estimates in its third quarter, earning $200 million, or 55 cents a share, on sales of $1.825 billion.

    First Call Corp. consensus expected the PC maker to earn 44 cents a share in the quarter.

    Its shares closed off 1 1/16 to 57 1/4 but fell to 53 1/2 in after-hours trading.

    The $1.825 billion in sales marks a 17 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it raked in $203 million, or 60 cents a share, on sales of $1.56 billion.

    However, the third-quarter results included a $37 million gain related to the sale of 4.95 million shares of ARM Holdings Plc. Excluding those gains, Apple earned $163 million, or 45 cents a share, in the quarter.

    Also, the $1.825 billion in sales fell slightly below most analysts' estimates. Various reports expected the computer maker to report sales ranging between $1.9 billion and $1.95 billion.

    None of the financial details may matter, however. CEO Steve Jobs is doing his annual MacWorld gig in New York City.

  • Intel (Nasdaq: INTC)

    The chipmaker should gain ground Wednesday after it topping Street estimates in its second quarter, earning $3.5 billion, or 50 cents a share, on sales of $8.3 billion.

    First Call Corp. consensus expected a profit of 49 cents a share, on a post-split basis.

    Its shares closed off 3 5/16 to 143.

    The $8.3 billion in sales was well above most analysts' estimates and represents a 23 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it pocketed $1.75 billion, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $6.75 billion.

    Gross profit margins slipped to 60.4 percent in the quarter, down from 62.6 percent in the first quarter. Excluding the $200 million charge it absorbed in the quarter to replace defective motherboards, gross margins were 62.9 percent.

    Looking ahead, Intel said it expects third quarter sales to be up from the $8.3 billion it recorded this quarter while gross profit margins will fall between 63 percent to 64 percent.

  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)

    It was ho-hum fourth quarter for Microsoft. On Tuesday it reported a profit of $2.41 billion, or 44 cents a share.

    Analysts were expecting a profit of 42 cents a share in the quarter.

    Fourth quarter revenue increased to $5.8 billion, a marginal improvement from $5.76 billion in the comparable period a year ago. Microsoft CFO John Connors cited consumer business and Asia as especially strong areas of growth.

    Windows platform revenue in the fourth quarter rose 5.7 percent year-over-year, to $2.37 billion from $2.25 billion. But sales from productivity applications and developer tools fell 9.9 percent over the same period, to $2.64 billion from $2.93 billion.

    Its shares closed up 5/16 to 78 1/2 ahead of the earnings report.

  • Rambus (Nasdaq: RMBS)

    Rambus will see lots of action after it met analysts' estimates in its third quarter, earning $4.8 million, or 4 cents a share, on sales of $17.8 million.

    First Call Corp. consensus pegged the chipmaker for a profit of 4 cents a share in the quarter.

    Rambus shares closed off 6 5/8 to 101 7/8 ahead of the earnings report. In after-hours trading, the stock slipped to 94 3/8.

    The $17.8 million in sales marks a 67 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $2 million, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $10.6 million.

    Company officials said the third-quarter sales included $6.6 million in royalties from licensees for their shipments of Rambus ICs. The figure also includes $3.7 million of deferred revenue from canceled contracts.

  • Sybase (Nasdaq: SYBS)

    Sybase hurdled the Street estimate in its second quarter Tuesday, earning $23.6 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $234.1 million.

    First Call Corp. consensus expected the database software developer to earn 22 cents a share in the quarter.

    The $234.1 million in sales represents an 11 percent jump from the year-ago quarter when it earned $13.9 million, or 17 cents a share, on sales of $210.2 million.

    Sybase shares closed up 3/8 to 23 1/4 Tuesday.