Markets: Intel gets financial analysts vote

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American financial analysts are raising their earnings estimates for Intel's third quarter to 79 to 80 cent/share because of what they believe is growing PC demand. With Xeon processors becoming available in the fourth quarter, the new prediction is for earnings around $3.14 for the year. It seems that Wall Street does not throw straw in the air and watch to see which way it blows. Instead, they look to DRAM - production-free New Zealand, the traditional dumping ground for South Korean surpluses. It seems that memory prices have been going up considerably-but the analysts could be misjudging the signals. The NZ economy is in bad shape because Auckland was closed for many weeks on account of power failures, so supply patterns are abnormal. CMP Media, the IT publisher, forecast a gloomy third quarter, with anticipated profits of one to two cents/share on revenue of $116 to £120 million, compared with analysts estimates of 21 cents. Its shares closed at 10 5/8, down 31 per cent. The reason given is that thin margins on PCs results in less advertising. IBM is recovering its position as a bellwether. Paine Webber and JP Morgan rated it as a buy. The reason? Consistency in earnings, large market capitalisation, and a good valuation. IBM has been notching up gains when all around were panicking. Analysts like IBM's share repurchase programme, which is expected to keep its stock price climbing. Hitachi now expects to lose $1.67 billion in the FY ending 31 March 1999 -- its first loss since the second world war. It seems that it is not just the DRAM and LSI businesses that are problematical-most of its other electronic and PC businesses are down too. Staff attrition and redeployment, together with a freeze on investment, are the basis of Hitachi's plans for recovery. Dialog, acquired by MAID in November from Knight Ridder for $421.6 million in a highly-geared move, produced a poor result for the half and saw its shares fall 13 per cent on the London market. Psion shares went up 9.2 per cent, attributed in part to a rebound and in part to better medium term prospects and fair results for its first half. ®

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