Oracle Crushes Earnings, the iPad's Overheating, and HP Moves to Merge

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The tech world had plenty of storylines tonight. Not only has Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) continued its dominance of tech storylines, but Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL  ) also recovered from its weak performance last quarter to post strong results. Finally, we have Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) aiming to restructure its operations. Let's get right to the main storylines!

Tech storyline No. 1: Is an iPad heat controversy brewing?
The new "scandal" surrounding the hot-selling iPad is turning to a different kind of heat. New details out on Tuesday from Consumer Reports pegged the iPad's hottest temperature at 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Earlier in the day, infrared tests had captured the newest iPad running at 93 degrees, which would be within Apple's specified operating range between 32 and 95 degrees.

Any perceived imperfection on the iPad will be analyzed to levels far exceeding competing tablets. But after the "antenna-gate" firestorm -- in which Consumer Reports also held a prime position -- ended up doing little harm to Apple, I'm inclined to ignore "heat-gate" as nothing more than noise surrounding a major release.

That's not to say investors should ignore the potential heat problem. However, I do find it perverse that this issue already seems to have attracted more media attention than the announcement that Apple sold 3 million iPads during the launch weekend. In the long run, while "heat-gate" will probably blow away, Apple's continuing dominance of the tablet space will continue to be one of the tech space's top storylines across the next decade.

Tech storyline No. 2: Oracle on the comeback trail?
Last quarter, Oracle dropped an astounding 15% on its poor earnings. That poor performance was especially shocking since Oracle has historically smoked earnings expectations. However, this time around, Oracle didn't disappoint. The company posted adjusted sales of $9.1 billion and adjusted earnings of $0.62 per share.

Looking ahead, Oracle forecasts adjusted earnings well ahead of expectations. However, earnings continued to be mired at a low growth rate, as adjusted earnings are expected to rise only 1% to 5% next quarter. While Oracle's results easily exceeded expectations, its shares haven't taken off after-hours, as the company has seen about a 1.53% gain so far. A big reason is the continuing hand-wringing over Oracle's attempts to take on IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) in the integrated hardware and software space. Oracle's hardware sales were down 16% over last year.

Bulls will point to Oracle's continuing product transitions and the growth of its Exadata line. Yet I must admit that at current valuations, IBM remains my top choice in the large-cap IT hardware, software, and services space simply because the company continues executing so well and has expanded its reach so deeply into international markets, where IT is experiencing it highest growth.

Tech storyline No. 3: HP getting it together?
Reports out of the tech space suggest that HP is combining its printer and PC business. That might not sound like a monumental decision, but it's worth noting that HP recently considered spinning off its PC line. The integration of the two makes sense when you consider the valuable printing division derives a large part of its value from being an add-on to HP's PC business. I think HP is fundamentally broken and lacks the strategy of its large IT-services peers, so I welcome any changes meant to streamline the company.

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Eric Bleeker owns shares of no company listed above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Oracle. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On March 21, 2012, at 1:28 AM, TechnoHistorian wrote:

    Thanks for your good judgment in commenting on the iPad heat issue. For my various uses including web-surfing, film-watching, and book reading, my new iPad is just great. And speaking of "antenna-gate" -- in my experience that was one of the biggest farces in American business history. I bought the iPhone 4 early on, have used it regularly ever since, compared it to reception on other phones, and have never had the slightest regret. The role of Consumer Reports in that story undermined my confidence all right -- undermined my confidence in CR. Or as another writer elegantly phrased it: "Antenna-Gate Smantenna-Gate"!

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