Why Xilinx Inc., Juniper Networks, Inc., and Linear Technology Corporation Are Today's 3 Worst Stocks

Most stocks finished higher in the stock market today, buoyed by strong corporate earnings that reignited confidence in the pace of the economic recovery. But you'd never know that technology was one of the sectors leading markets higher if you glanced at Xilinx (NASDAQ: XLNX  ) , Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR  ) , and Linear Technology Corporation (NASDAQ: LLTC  ) , which finished as three of the worst performers in the entire S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) . But while these three stocks were tumbling, the S&P itself was on its way to an all-time closing record, adding 3 points, or 0.2%, to end at 1,987.

Xilinx, a chipmaker that makes integrated circuits, systems-on-a-chip, and other technologies, saw shares plunge 14.3%. In layman's terms, what matters is that Xilinx's business is reliant on two types of consumers: governments and telecom companies. While Xilinx managed to squeak out higher second-quarter earnings than expected, sales of $612.6 million in the period missed consensus forecasts for $631 million by a wide margin. The company also thinks revenue will either stay flat or fall by up to 4% next quarter, which is at odds with CEO Moshe Gavrielov's assertion that "Xilinx is positioned to benefit from a recovery in wireless and defense programs" in the second half of the fiscal year. The stock was hit with a flurry of downgrades following the poor forward guidance.

Juniper is repurchasing shares to express confidence in its operations. Image Source: Juniper Networks

Shares of networking technology provider Juniper Networks also had some nice financials to highlight from its second quarter, but took a pounding as a result of lousy third-quarter guidance. Juniper Networks stock took a 9.6% haircut on Wednesday as it forecast third-quarter earnings per share between $0.35 and $0.40 where analysts were looking for $0.44 in third-quarter EPS. Juniper's CEO chalked up the weak guidance to industry dynamics in which service providers are hell-bent on throwing money at mergers and acquisitions rather than traditional network improvements. The company is putting its money where its mouth is, too, pledging to repurchase $550 million of common stock by year-end. If the setback truly is temporary, then today's pullback looks like an overreaction and an opportunity for long-term Juniper believers.

The stock of another chipmaker, Linear Technology Corporation, shed 5.7% on Wednesday in the wake of its own quarterly earnings report. It's a bit more difficult to divine what investors thought was wrong with Linear's report, although it couldn't have been last quarter's numbers. The company clobbered consensus EPS forecasts for $0.51, posting EPS of $0.59 in its fiscal fourth quarter. Linear Technology also topped consensus sales expectations, projected that revenue next quarter would edge higher when historically it declines, and saw Morgan Stanley reiterate its "overweight" rating on the stock. Unless there was an ominous tone to the conference call this morning, today's slump is somewhat of a head-scratcher. The conference call is available through Linear's website through July 30.

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