An avalanche of profit warnings and downgrades sent already skittish investors into full-panic mode this week. While most analysts believe the worst is behind us, traders fear more bad news could be coming next week.
Gateway (NYSE: GTW) and Micron Electronics (Nasdaq: MUEI) both warned that they would miss analysts' sales and estimates by wide margins in the first quarter.
That compelled analysts to unleash a flurry of downgrades and sales revisions, pulling the rest of the PC sector down with them.
The Nasdaq dropped below 2,600 points Thursday, it's lowest point in more than year.
A brief dead-cat bounce Friday provided only cosmetic relief to the battered indices.
"Technology has gotten to levels that are really bargain basement, so we were due for a snap-back rally,'' said Guy Truicko, an equity portfolio manager at Unity Management, on Friday. "People are rotating pretty substantially out of all of the defensive stocks and into tech again."
Companies such as Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HWP), Novellus Systems (Nasdaq: NVLS) and Cirrus Logic (Nasdaq: CRUS) reiterated their sales and earnings targets in the hopes of curtailing their respective slides.
The fact that the presidential election still hasn't been decided was merely a footnote to the carnage witnessed on Wall Street this week.
"Absolute downright fear, which is a mirror image of the greed that we saw in the first quarter," said Scott Bleier, chief investment strategist at Prime Charter Ltd. "The proverbial towel is getting throw in here."
Looking ahead to next week, a handful of earnings reports will give investors plenty to mull over.
J.D. Edwards (Nasdaq: JDEC) will report its fourth-quarter earnings next week.
First Call Corp. consensus expects the software developer to earn 8 cents a share.
Last quarter, it beat the Street when it posted a profit of $2.3 million, or 2 cents a share, on sales of $261.1 million.
Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN) will also deliver its fourth-quarter earnings report with analysts projecting a profit of 12 cents a share.
Ciena made $28.2 million, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $233.3 million in its third quarter.
The stock took a beating earlier this week as investors fretted over sluggish demand from telecommunications companies.
Caldera Systems (Nasdaq: CALD) is expected to post a fourth-quarter loss of 22 cents a share.
Last quarter, it dropped $7.5 million, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $1.2 million.