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The week ahead: Dell speaks

Devotees of Dell Computer will be able to gorge on a fair amount of news from the company this week.

Following are some of the notable tech-related events scheduled for the week of April 1 through April 5.

Devotees of Dell Computer will be able to gorge on a fair amount of news from the company this week.

The direct seller of PCs will hold a press conference Wednesday to talk up the latest happenings in its enterprise computer business, a highly prized market where Dell faces such giants as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Compaq Computer.

Dell week continues Thursday when the company's top executives host an analyst meeting that will be Webcast.

Two conferences should draw attention to the tech sector. Storage Networking World in Palm Desert, Calif., will attract technophiles and professionals interested in finding a home for all the computer data generated by today's information economy, while computer security experts will gather at SANS2002 in Orlando, Fla., to learn how to protect that information.

After winning shareholder approval for their merger, tech giants Hewlett-Packard and Compaq are expected to announce next week the process by which the combined company will decide which workers to keep as well as to unveil another layer of top executives

Wall Street will also scrutinize the Labor Department's employment report Friday. The report is a key measure of the nation's economic health and will provide data like the unemployment rate for March.

The markets will get somewhat of a breather from earnings announcements as pre-announcement season comes to a close and companies focus on closing the books on their first quarter.

Companies fared better during pre-announcement season from last year, according to First Call.

Of the 801 first-quarter pre-announcements so far, 385, or 48 percent of the total, warned of lower earnings; while 241, or 30 percent, said earnings would exceed expectations. That compares favorably with the same period a year ago when 655 of the 941 pre-announcements were negative, or 70 percent.

Earnings from companies in the Standard and Poor's 500 index will still be down 12 percent from last year's first quarter, compared with a 21.7 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2001 from the same quarter a year ago.

However, even though it seems like earnings will improve for the upcoming quarter, researchers tell a different story. When adjusted for seasonal factors, the earnings decline of S&P 500 companies from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the first quarter of this year is about the same, according to Chuck Hill, First Call's director of research.

On the bright side, Hill believes that earnings will show growth in the second quarter from the year before, after five consecutive quarters of declines. The information was gathered from First Call, Hoover's Online, CCBN's StreetEvents and CNET Investor.

Other events scheduled this week:

Tech Events
Monday, April 1
  • Computer security folk will descend on the Orlando Marriott World Resort, in Orlando, Fla., April 1 to April 7 for the SANS2002 conference to learn about security-related topics such as firewalls, VPNs and hackers.

Tuesday, April 2
  • ISP Business Expo takes place at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, April 2 to April 3. The event is geared towards professionals in the Internet service provider business. Workshops include learning how to overcome business practices by dominant local phone carriers that can prevent ISPs from successfully operating.

  • Flashforward 2002, a conference for Web designers and developers who use Macromedia's Flash kicks off at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, April 2 to April 3.

  • Computer data-storage aficionados will gather at the Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, Calif., April 2 to April 5 for Storage Networking World. BMC Software Chief Executive Bob Beauchamp will make a keynote speech, along with senior executives from Veritas Software, EMC, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

  • Microsoft and Intel will host a workshop for developers on Microsoft's .Net technology at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View, Calif., April 2 to April 3.

Wednesday, April 3
  • Dell Computer, a direct seller of PCs, will host a press conference at 10 am on April 3 in the Grand Ballroom of the Pierre Hotel in New York to discuss strategy and product developments in its enterprise business. Dell Chief Operating Officer Kevin Rollins will make a presentation.

  • The Siebel Observer, an independent newsletter that monitors trends that affect the market of database software maker Siebel Systems, will hold its invitation-only summit at the Vail Cascade Club in Vail, Colo., April 3 to April 6.

  • Microsoft and Intel will host a workshop for developers on Microsoft's .Net technology at the Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles, April 3 to April 4.

  • IDC will hold the Directions 2002 conference at the San Jose Convention Center, in San Jose, Calif., on April 3. The event will focus on the issues, trends and forecasts that are relevant to the overall information technology industry including areas such as wireless, enterprise, software, communications, services and consumer technology.

Thursday, April 4
  • Dell Computer will hold its Spring analysts' meeting at 5:00 a.m. on April 4. The meeting will be Webcast and features presentations by Chief Executive Michael Dell, COO Kevin Rollins and CFO Jim Schneider.

  • Electronic components manufacturer Jabil Circuit will also hold an analysts' meeting at 10:00 a.m. on April 4. The presentation will be Webcast from the Don Cesar Resort & Spa, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Earnings

Thursday, April 4

  • Audivox markets mobile phones and electronic equipment. Per-share consensus estimate for the first fiscal quarter: loss of 12 cents.

Economic Reports
Monday, April 1

  • Construction spending tabulates the dollar amount of newly completed building structures in a month as reported by the Commerce Department. Analysts expect spending to rise 0.8 percent in February compared with the previous month's increase of 1.5 percent.

  • The Institute for Supply Management index tracks how many hard goods were bought by purchasing managers. The March ISM index is expected to drop to 54.3 percent from 54.7 percent in February. The ISM, formerly known as the National Association of Purchasing Management, regards index values above 50 as an indication of an expanding economy, while values below 50 signify contraction.

Wednesday, April 3
  • The Non-Manufacturing ISM index tracks how many hard goods were bought monthly by purchasing managers in the services industry. Economists expect the index to drop to 57 percent in March from 58.7 percent in February.

Thursday, April 4
  • Initial Claims refers to the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits each week as reported by the Department of Labor. Claims will be reported for the week ending March 30.

Friday, April 5
  • The Unemployment rate is the percentage of unemployed adults, as estimated monthly by the Labor Department. Unemployment is expected to increase to 5.6 percent for March from 5.5 percent in February.

  • The Labor Department also follows the monthly percentage change in Hourly Earnings in the private sector. This number is expected to rise 0.2 percent in March versus the previous month's 0.1 percent.

  • Average workweek for March is the average amount of hours worked per week in the private sector, as estimated monthly by the Labor Department. Economists expect hours worked to tick up to 34.2 hours from February's 34.1.

  • Nonfarm Payrolls represents the change in the number of workers in nonfarm jobs. This number is expected to rise by 23,000 in March from last month's increase of 66,000.

  • The Consumer Credit report by the Federal Reserve shows the monthly debt assumed by consumers for purposes other than home mortgages. February credit is expected to fall to $8.5 billion from $12.8 billion in January.

Also this week

  • Auto and truck sales represents the number of new cars sold in the United States as compiled by the U.S. Commerce Department. Economists expect auto sales in March to stay unchanged at an annual rate of 5.6 million units, and truck sales to dip to 7.5 million from the previous month's 7.6 million