Tech: And You Think Q4's Going to Be Bad? - Barron's

by: SA Eli Hoffmann

Barron's Tech Trader Eric Savitz dusts off his crystal ball and gazes into the future, one quarter at a time. Warning: His ball seems to have a bad cold:

  • Q4 earnings reports are going to be miserable. Savitz counts 65 times over the past two weeks in which his blog has covered an earnings warning, layoffs, bankruptcy threat, or otherwise grim tidings.
  • If you think Q4 was unthinkably bad, wait until Q1. "End-market demand is so bad that workers are being sent off on unpaid vacations of two to four weeks."
  • If you are thinking the first quarter looks bad, wait until you see the rest of the year - particularly for chip stocks. Analyst Mark Lipacis sees earnings for the semiconductor firms in his universe down a startling 78% vs. the Street's -27%.
  • PC and mobile phone sales may be a lot worse than the -5% to -6% and -4% to -6% analysts expect -- like -10% to -15% and -20% respectively. At fault: the retrenching consumer.
  • Some familiar names may not make it through the year: Qimonda (QI) needs a cash infusion (note: it got it - today!). Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) may salvage the company, but its $21B in debt means shareholders are likely to be wiped out. Nortel (NT) has hired bankruptcy lawyers. Other companies in peril: Palm (PALM), Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD), Motorola (MOT), Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI).


While Savitz is frigid on the tech sector in 2009, a group of 12 big name Wall Street strategists see markets doubling their present 18% gain from lows over the coming year. Here's a summary of this week's cover story.