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THE WEEK AHEAD: Investors await Cisco, Dell earnings

Investors are hoping strong earnings from Cisco Systems and Dell next week will help the technology sector maintain some of the momentum generated this week.

For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average moved up 226 points to 10,817.95 while the Nasdaq composite jumped 174 points to 3,451.53.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the number of new jobs created last month slowed to 137,000, easing some inflationary worries. But that news was mitigated by a slightly larger than expected rise in wages.

"I'd call the employment numbers today a little bit of a negative picture," said Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist at Weatherly Securities. "It's wonderful to see the job growth slowing. At the same time, the 0.4 percent increase in hourly earnings, greater than expected, creates a concern that wage inflation might be creeping back into the system and that productivity might be slipping.''

Regardless, investors are confident the Federal Reserve Board will leave interest rates alone through the New Year.

Qualcomm delivered some good news this week when it topped analysts' estimates in its fourth quarter, earning $200.8 million, or 25 cents a share, on sales of $635 million.

First Call Corp. consensus expected it to post a profit of 24 cents a share in the quarter.

The $635 million in sales marks an 11 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $182.9 million, or 24 cents a share, on sales of $716 million.

Company officials said they are comfortable with the current First Call Corp. profit estimates of $1.29 a share in fiscal 2001.

Looking ahead to next week, investors will be looking for strong sales and earnings growth from Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO).

Cisco will report its first-quarter results next week with analysts forecasting a profit of 17 cents a share.

Last quarter, Cisco topped analysts' estimates when it posted a profit of $1.2 billion, or 16 cents a share, on sales of $5.72 billion.

Once the premier growth stock on Wall Street, Cisco shares have stagnated in 2000, falling from a 52-week high of $82 in March to below $50 last week.

Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) will also report earnings next week.

First Call Corp. consensus expects the PC maker to earn 25 cents a share in its third quarter.

Dell hurdled analysts' earnings estimates in its second quarter, earning $603 million, or 22 cents a share, on sales of $7.7 billion.

However, the sales were a bit of a disappointment and will be scrutinized this time around.

S1 also reports its third-quarter results next week with analysts predicting a loss of $2.39 a share.

On Friday, the company said it would cut 7 percent of its workforce as part of its commitment to cutting costs and streamlining its operations.

Last quarter, S1 lost $2.1 million, or $2.82 a share, on sales of $59.1 million.

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