Turmoil resumed in the markets today, with the Nasdaq skidding off to a 5.2% loss. Today, we're taking a look at the three top technology stories that developed over the past 24 hours. Let's get right to the action.
Tech News No. 1: Turmoil in the markets resumes
After stocks were able to see some gains from lows reached last week, skittishness over weakening economies in Europe and the possibility of a double-dip recession were widely noted in today's broad sell-off. Still, not all sectors were hit equally. One area of particular weakness was storage and networking stocks. Immediately at fault was NetApp's (Nasdaq: NTAP ) weaker-than-expected guidance last night that caused a ripple effect among enterprise-reliant sectors.
Particularly hard hit were "best of breed" networking companies. One of the emerging storylines has been the ability of companies specializing in emerging-growth areas of networking to hoodwink Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) and steal market share. That attracted quite a bit of attention earlier this year, as investors sought out growth, but with estimates of IT spending being slashed in the second half of the year, investors are bailing from these growth stories in a panic. It didn't help that a series of sectorwide analyst downgrades also came in today, pouring more panic on top of an already exaggerated sell-off.
Here's a recap of some of the networking and storage stocks hit hardest today.
% Off 52-Week High
|Riverbed (Nasdaq: RVBD )||WAN Optimization||15.2%||53.8%|
|F5 Networks (Nasdaq: FFIV )||Load Balancing||9.4%||51.1%|
|Aruba Networks (Nasdaq: ARUN )||Wireless Networking||17.2%||51.8%|
|Acme Packet (Nasdaq: APKT )||Session Border Controllers||17.4%||51.1%|
|EMC (NYSE: EMC )||Storage Market Leader||8.5%||28.3%|
|VMware (NYSE: VMW )||Virtualization Leader||10.2%||29%|
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
Downright glum comments from NetApp about slowing growth this quarter and potential troubles within the government and finance markets point toward a tough tech landscape in the quarters ahead. However, if you can find companies on sale with strong balance sheets to weather the storm and products with key competitive advantages over customers, they should come emerge as winners over the next few years, even if the short term looks choppy. Looking at the tight range off 52-week highs all the networking stocks trade in, it looks like these companies are being sold off in a basket regardless of their business direction or advantages over networking giant Cisco. I'll definitely be diving deeper into this sector in coming weeks.
Tech News No. 2: HP goes all IBM
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) is preparing to spin off its PC business and focus more on value-added areas like software and cloud solutions. If that storyline sounds familiar, it's because the company -- like Dell -- is trying to re-mold itself in the form of IBM (NYSE: IBM ) . In 2005, IBM spun off its PC operations, selling them to China's Lenovo. Since then, Big Blue has worked tirelessly on increasing its software focus while making investments to key growth areas like data analytics.
HP is doing its best to copy this exact playbook. The company will also be killing its poorly selling tablet line and is in discussions to buy British software firm Autonomy. Investors briefly shot HP's stock up 14% after news broke of possibly divesting the PC business, but those gains proved fleeting. HP quickly returned back into the red, closing the day down 6%. After hours, the company joined the chorus of tech companies reducing guidance, further disheartening investors.
Tech News No. 3: Amidst the sell-off, a Chinese IPO flounders
This week's sole IPO, Tudou (Nasdaq: TUDO ) , continued getting hammered today. Its shares closed down another 18.6%, leaving them 28% below their initial IPO pricing. The company is precariously hanging on to its second-place position in the Chinese video market as both Youku and Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU ) gain share around it. I was on CNBC to talk about it yesterday and suggested that investors looking for skin in the Chinese video market stay far away from it and buy Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) or Sohu instead. There's little differentiation in the video market, and Tudou should continue struggling against larger competitors with better resources.
- See me on CNBC, discussing Tudou last night.
That's it for today's tech checkup. To stay updated on all your favorite technology stocks, make sure to add them to our free My Watchlist service. It delivers up-to-date news and analysis on all of your favorite companies.