THE WEEK AHEAD: Investors desperate for good news

2 min read

Another round of profit warnings had technology investors on their heels this week as the Nasdaq composite continued its recent swoon. Apple's fourth-quarter profit warning was just the latest bit of bad news.

For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 196 points to 10,651.29 while the Nasdaq composite lost 131 points to finish at 3,672.70.

Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) delivered the worst news of the week, warning that it will fall short of analysts' sales and earnings estimates in its fourth quarter.

The PC maker said it will likely earn between 30 cents to 33 cents a share in the quarter, well below the First Call Corp. estimates of 45 cents a share.

Company officials blamed slow sales of its Power Mac G4 cube machines as well as sluggish sales in all regions.

The stock lost more than half its value in Friday trading.

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) received some good news this week when the Supreme Court decided that the Court of Appeals -- which is a lower court -- should hear its appeal before the Supreme Court considers the matter.

Microsoft is appealing a trial court decision which found it violated antitrust law and should be split in two.

Exodus Communications (Nasdaq: EXDS) made some news this week when it confirmed it will buy a stake in the GlobalCenter subsidiary of Global Crossing Ltd. (Nasdaq: GBLX) for around $6.1 billion.

The long-speculated deal comes two months after the companies abandoned initial negotiations. Terms call for Exodus to issue shares worth $6.53 billion divided by the average closing price of its stock prior to the closing of the deal, subject to a collar.

Together, the companies have a pro forma annualized recurring revenue run rate of $1.0 billion, 32 Internet Data Centers, almost 4,000 customers, and partners that include Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), Compaq (NYSE: CPQ), Dell (NYSE: DELL) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

Looking ahead to next week, investors will get to snack on a few appetizers before the main course of corporate earnings hit in the next three weeks.

Micron Technology (NYSE: MU) will report its fourth-quarters results with analysts' expecting a profit of 96 cents a share.

Last quarter, Micron shattered analysts' estimates when it posted a profit of $275 million, or 47 cents a share, on sales of $1.8 billion.

Metron Technology (Nasdaq: MTCH) will also report next week.

Analysts are expecting it to pocket 25 cents a share in its first quarter.

Metron missed analysts' estimates in the fourth quarter, earning $2.8 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $113 million.