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Wall Street Beat: Hardware hits headwinds, software picture clears up

Marc Ferranti | July 16, 2012
While hardware and components makers face economic hurdles, the picture for software is getting brighter, according to earnings reports from major vendors and mid-year market research polls.

For the fiscal year ending in October, the company expects sales to be below the previous outlook of US$9.1 billion to $9.5 billion. The company will provide a new forecast during its Aug. 15 earnings call.

Meanwhile the software side of tech, while not uniformly sunny for all vendors, offers some bright spots. On Thursday, SAP said that software revenue increased 26 percent in its second quarter to ¬1.06 billion (US$1.30 billion), at the high end of expectations. The ERP vendor, which will release its full second-quarter results on July 24, said operating profit was up 7 percent to ¬0.92 billion.

Despite Informatica's earnings warning last week, some software makers are doing well. Oracle and Tibco in the past few weeks reported strong results. Tibco CEO Vivek Ranadiv鬼a href=""> in an interview after the company's results, said that since software is so crucial to business processes now, in some ways it is easier to close big deals -- if a vendor can show a return on investment. The comment matches what some enterprise customers are saying.

"I think you're looking at an environment where when we make big investments, we just have a higher hurdle for the rate of return," said Chris Perretta , CIO of State Street. "I see the current environment as having much more scrutiny into any investment, technology or otherwise."

Taking all facets of IT into account, the tech picture may not be as bad as the most dire forecasts have predicted. Worldwide spending on IT products and services will rise 3 percent in 2012 to US$3.6 trillion, according to a Gartner report early this week. That forecast is up from the 2.5 percent growth forecast by Gartner earlier this year. A lot of the optimism is due to software. Enterprise software spending will be $281 billion in 2012, a 4.3 percent jump, Gartner said.

A wave of earnings reports from some of the biggest names in tech next week, including IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, may provide a clearer snapshot of the IT market as a whole.

(Additional reporting by Chris Kanaracus in Boston.)


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