Rob Black's Tech Stock Report

by: Rob Black

The European Commission has widened an antitrust review of Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) to see if it convinced an electronics retailer to exclude rival Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD). The investigation of the relationship between Intel and German company Metro AG's Media Market had until now been conducted by that country's competition agency.

Piper Jaffray (PJF) does not expect Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to announce a phone tomorrow, but continues to expect AAPL will ship the "iPhone" within the next 4-6 months. Firm says, assuming AAPL ships the iPhone at Macworld-07, firm's analysis points to between 6%-10% upside to Street 2007 EPS.

Speculation is growing that Apple Computer's news conference tomorrow may offer the long-awaited viable connection between the computer and the television. Several media outlets in recent weeks have reported Apple's intention to offer downloadable movies through its online iTunes store. And the invitation last week from Chief Executive Steven Jobs proclaiming, "It's Showtime" bolstered a consensus among Apple handicappers that a distribution deal with Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and sleeker, higher-capacity video iPods were in the works. But company executives have suggested a bigger idea could be coming. Two products that Apple has to move towards is the cell phone and the television. An iphone will happen sooner than later and will help Apple grow in 2007.

Turmoil at the top of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) continues today. H-P's directors are scheduled to continue their deliberations by telephone at 6:00 p.m. tonight over what to do about the board's controversial leak investigation. This has been an ongoing saga that is clearly escalating. The H-P directors conferred by phone for more than three hours yesterday, but no action was taken. H-P has said the probe involved the improper acquisition of personal phone records of its own directors and nine journalists.

The problem here is that the leak was problematic, but even more so was the investigation into directors, which effectively emasculates the board. In the future, a director will be very reluctant to ask anyone outside of management for information on management. Anyone outside of management will not want to contact the board, and this basically puts this board back into a pre-Enron mode that is highly dependent on management for information, and that is not good for shareholders, who the board serves. In all likelihood, the Board of Directors will ask for Patricia Dunn’s resignation, effective immediately.

Barron's reports that the merger between Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) and Veritas may benefit investors and defy cynics. Symantec's consumer business, best known for Norton antivirus software, looks set to retain its No. 1 position helped by upcoming products that include identity-theft safeguards. Eventually, the company could become a takeover target. Deals are heating up in security software and some think Symantec would be a great addition to Hewlett-Packard.