Wall Street Beat: HP, Lenovo Disappoint but IPOs Rock

Successful initial public offerings this week from network management company SolarWinds and Web-based restaurant reservation company OpenTable were offset by disappointing results from Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, which said they face a tough sales climate for the rest of the year.

SolarWinds had a successful IPO on the New York Stock exchange Wednesday. The IPO priced at $12.50 a share, above the expected range of $9.50 to $11.50 a share, raising $151.5 million in gross proceeds.

On Thursday, OpenTable launched its IPO on the Nasdaq. The stock was originally set to price between $12 and $14, and then was pushed to a $16 to $18 price range. However, it opened at $24.50 and closed at $31.89.

The other stocks this year with IPOs that ended up pricing higher than expectations were also tech-related: geospatial information purveyor DigitalGlobe and language software maker Rosetta Stone.

Over the past two months, tech stocks have bounced back from their yearly low on March 8, when the tech-heavy Nasdaq hit 1268.64, its lowest close in about nine years.

But despite the successful IPOs this week, stocks have been volatile lately, as the latest unemployment numbers and a credit warning on the U.K. had investors concerned that the economic recovery won't be as quick as previously thought. The Nasdaq fell 46 points to 1681 Thursday.

HP's quarterly financial report Wednesday did not help the case for tech stocks, in particular. The report was one of most anticipated of the season, since the company is the world's biggest IT vendor and has received kudos for managing costs during the recession. Though HP's profit of US$1.7 billion for the quarter ending April 30 was in line with expectations, revenue declined by 3 percent to $27.4 billion. In a conference call, HP Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd said that from what he has been hearing from customers, it is unlikely that corporate IT purchasing patterns will change much for the rest of the year.

On Thursday, PC maker Lenovo issued results that were a drastic fall from a year ago. For the quarter through March, Lenovo suffered a loss of $264 million, plunging from a profit of $140 million a year earlier. Revenue was $2.8 billion, down from $3.7 billion. In a sign of how the PC market has been faring, Lenovo's quarterly loss more than doubled from the prior quarter.

In the mobile phone market, several surveys this week showed plunging sales and shipments. Mobile phone shipments declined 8.6 percent worldwide to 269.1 million units during the first quarter, according to a Gartner report Wednesday. For its part, market researcher Ovum issued a report Monday that said that the economic downturn will have a significant impact on mobile phone shipments. Ovum said shipments would be down by 9.1 percent for the year.

The one bright spot is smartphones, where Gartner said shipments actually increased by 12.7 percent during the first quarter.

This year has witnessed the collapse of the market for mid-tier handsets, Ovum said in its report.

"This has had a polarizing effect on the handset market, with vendors and mobile operators focusing on two types of handset: those targeting the low-end and high-end segments," said Adam Leach, devices principal analyst at Ovum.

In a sign that the recession has not stopped large strategic acquisitions, storage company NetApp Wednesday announced it will acquire backup-device maker Data Domain for about US$1.5 billion. The storage market is one area that has not been affected as much as others by the recession.

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