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THE WEEK AHEAD: Earnings onslaught

Investors will have plenty to mull over following the three-day weekend when dozens of technology firms report quarterly earnings next week. Intel, Microsoft and Apple are just a few of the names expected to post disappointing results.

It’s no coincidence the Nasdaq, save this week’s decent rally, has fallen on hard times following profit warnings from every nook and cranny of the technology sector.

Investors will want to see just how bad this quarter’s numbers were, but they’re going to be more interested in the guidance provided by these bellwethers.

  • Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) warned earlier this quarter that it will miss analysts’ sales estimates in its fourth quarter.

    Blaming "recent large cancellations by customers worldwide,” the chipmaking giant told investors to expect around $8.7 billion.

    First Call Corp. consensus expects Intel to earn 38 cents a share in the quarter.

    Last quarter, Intel topped analysts’ estimates, earning $2.9 billion, or 41 cents a share, on sales of $8.7 billion.

  • Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) also watered down expectations for its fourth quarter, bracing Wall Street for earnings of between 50 cents to 60 cents a share.

    Analysts reduced their consensus estimate from 68 cents a share to 55 cents a share following the profit warning.

    It too said fourth-quarter sales will be flat sequentially, coming in around $1.2 billion.

    In the third quarter, AMD earned $219.3 million, or 64 cents a share, on sales of $1.2 billion.

  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is expected to post a profit of 47 cents a share in its second quarter, a couple cents below analysts’ original estimates.

    Microsoft told analysts it now expects sales of between $6.4 billion to $6.5 billion in the quarter, roughly 5 percent less than previously forecast.

    Microsoft also revised its full-year fiscal 2001 expectations, projecting about 5 percent less than anticipated. For the year, Microsoft estimates revenues between $25.2 billion and $25.4 billion and earnings per share in the $1.80 to $1.82 range.

    Last quarter, the software giant slipped past analysts’ estimates when it raked in $2.58 billion, or 46 cents a share, on sales of $5.8 billion.

  • Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW) didn’t issue a profit warning this quarter, but its stock has reacted as if it did, falling from around $65 a share in September to $30 a share this week. Analysts are concerned its server sales won’t be up to par this quarter.

    First Call Corp. consensus pegs Sun for a profit of 16 cents a share in its second quarter on sales of $5.3 billion.

    Last quarter, Sun hurdled the Street estimate, earning $510 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $5.05 billion.

  • Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) will report its disastrous first-quarter results next week.

    The PC maker prepared the Street for the worst earlier this quarter, predicting a loss of between $225 million to $250 million, or roughly 65 cents a share, on sales of around $1 billion.

    It also cut its fiscal 2001 sales target to $6 billion to $6.5 billion, down at least 13 percent from the company's previous target of $7.5 billion to $8 billion in sales. That earlier target was itself reduced from prior expectations.

    Last quarter, Apple missed analysts’ reduced estimates when it pocketed $108 million, or 30 cents a share, on sales of $1.87 billion.

  • eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) checks in from the Internet sector next week with analysts forecasting a profit of 7 cents a share in its fourth quarter.

    eBay made $19.1 million, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $113.4 million last quarter.

    Analysts are projecting total sales of $125.5 million this quarter.