Tech Stocks Carry the Stock Market Today

The stock market is trying to hold on to gains for a third consecutive day as tech stocks lead today's charge.

Investors are trying to brush off jobless claims that increased from last week and existing home sales that fell to an eight-month low.

After financials held the earnings spotlight for a week tech stocks are starting to take over. For the most part they are keeping up the positive trend set by banks.

Intel Corp. ( Nasdaq: INTC) reported second-quarter results after Tuesday's close that beat market expectations and offered strong full-year guidance. Intel stock rose more than 3% in trading yesterday but is down slightly today.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) reported after yesterday's closing bell and blew past the average earnings per share estimate of $3.42 when it announced EPS of $3.51.
Yet, revenue for the second quarter fell 3% from last year to $25.8 billion, missing analysts' forecasts of $26.3 billion.

The company cited the debt crisis in Europe as one of the main factors bringing sales down but issued a positive outlook for the remainder of the year. IBM raised its 2012 profit outlook by 10 cents, to $15.10, ahead of Wall Street's median forecast of $15.06.

IBM stock rose 2.5% yesterday and was up over 3.5% midday today (Thursday.)

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Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) reported earnings today that were in line with expectations and maintained its full-year guidance.

Verizon earned $0.64 a share, a 12.3% increase from the same period last year, and in line with what analysts' expected. Revenue came in at $28.6 billion, almost exactly what was forecast.

The company was able to add 888,000 new subscribers. This was higher than forecast but down from last year's 1.3 million in the same quarter, reflecting the industry-wide slowdown.

Verizon stock has been on a great run, up 22% in the past twelve months and it just reached a 10-year high of $46.41 on Wednesday.

Verizon shares are down 1.21% today.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE ADR: NOK) is struggling to stay alive but its stock is surging today after the company reported second-quarter earnings.

The Finnish company posted a loss of 0.08 euros, which was expected after the company lowered its guidance last month. Revenue for the quarter was 7.54 billion euros, slightly ahead of expectations but down 19% from a year ago.

So why is the stock up?

A higher cash pile and better-than-expected Lumia sales.

Lumia, the Windows 7 based smartphone, generated a million more sales than forecast and the company hopes the launch of Windows 8 will increase sales further. Nokia's balance sheet at the end of the quarter included cash of 4.2 billion euros, higher than the 3.8 billion euros expected by analysts.

2012 has been rough for the company and investors will take any good news they can. Nokia stock is down more than 60% for the year but is up 6.5% as of noon.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) report earnings after today's close. Google should report better growth but Microsoft stock has had a better year compared to Google stock.

In 2012 Google is down 10% while Microsoft is up more than 14%.

Google expects to report EPS of $10.05 for its second quarter, up from $8.74 the previous year.

Microsoft expects to report net income of $5.23 billion, or $0.62 cents a share, down from $5.87 billion, or $0.69 a year ago. Microsoft will be hurt by a $6.2 billion write off for its 2007 acquisition of aQuantive, an online advertising agency.

Google investors will look to see if CEO Larry Page, who was been bothered by laryngitis, will participate in the shareholder call. Google may also indicate when its 2-1 stock split will occur.

Google stock is up 2.25% and Microsoft stock is up 0.73% as of noon.

The Dow Jones today was up 22 points, or 0.17%, and the S&P 500 was up 3.12 points, or 0.23%, as of noon.

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