Since it was pretty difficult to ignore the chaos in the financial markets this week, I decided to devote this installment of The Web Week in Review to the impact of the chaos on the technology sector.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got in the act on Tuesday as he called on the United States Congress to “stabilize the situation.”
He observed that Microsoft will not be immune to the economic problems, stating:
“Financial issues are going to affect both business spending and consumer spending…”
Interestingly, he also mentioned that European banks face many of the same problems their counterparts in the United States do and expressed his hope that the European Central Bank would “be as intelligent as it needs to be around that.“
While Microsoft is diversified and is sitting on a pile of cash, Ballmer’s comments make it clear that even those in the strongest of positions are very concerned.
Shares of Apple stock were hammered 18% on Monday as a result of the overall market sell-off and analyst downgrades.
The analysts who downgraded AAPL cited concerns over slowed consumer spending.
Specifically, RBC Capital Markets’ Michael Abramsky based in large part on a survey that showed fewer respondents planning to buy Macbooks in September than in August.
And as the San Francisco Chronicle noted, most analysts still maintain a buy rating on Apple, although it’s worth pointing out that buying a buy rating as a stock goes down is not necessarily a good idea for those who like to make money.
IBM’s stock was hit hard on Tuesday on speculation that its third quarter results won’t meet expectations.
But this may have more to do with “a greater-than-expected impact of the fluctuating dollar, compared to the euro and other currencies” as pointed out by ZDNet’s Sam Diaz.
The lesson: in today’s global economy, downside can come from just about any angle.
Fortunately, for those companies that benefit from a weak dollar, a bailout will place the value of the dollar at risk over the long-term.
In discussing the sell-off of tech stocks on Monday, an anonymous analyst noted:
“The tech guys have as much cash on their balance sheets as anyone. They will survive. The question is when they will thrive?”
While there’s no doubt that everyone will be impacted by this economic crisis, there’s also no doubt that the technology sector remains one of the strongest markets fundamentally.
The question, however, is not whether or not the market has strong underlying fundamentals – it’s when those fundamentals will have the opportunity to show.
For the time being, it’s hard to be confidentshorter-term even if you are optimistic longer-term.
It’s not all gloom and doom.
While I certainly don’t believe that now is the time to be calling bottoms and loading up on shares of technology stocks that look “cheap,” it’s hard to call a woman’s purchase of a house in Saginaw, Michigan for $1.75 on eBay anything but a “bargain.”
Even though Saginaw is not an exotic destination (it’s been hit especially hard by the economy in recent years), at a cost of $1.75, $850 in back taxes and yard-clean up expenses, Joanne Smith’s new house looks like a decent deal.
After all, she’ll always have a place to call “home” even if it isn’t a luxurious estate.
Perhaps eBay can thrive in this economy by morphing into the go-to marketplace for foreclosed homes.