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Investors often forget that technology stocks are more volatile than general large capitalisation stocks. In fact, looking at the Pacific Exchange's technology index, there is a slump just about every year -- there have been 12 of more than 12 per cent since 1986, with the worst being 45 per cent in 1987 and 35 per cent in 1990. On the charts, the recent decline looks similar to that of October last year, after which prices remained in the doldrums for three months before going up again. From early July, the gnomes of New York have had unreasonable expectations, with the consequence that Autodesk, Computer Associates, Excite, Intuit, and Tektronix for example have dropped around 40 to 60 per cent. There have also been some big gainers like Amazon, AOL, Apple, Cisco, Dell, Lucent, Microsoft, and Yahoo since January, although even some of these dived in August. Harking back to Microsoft's analysts' meeting in July, we heard CFO Greg Maffei give the usual annual warning that with a market cap of $316 million fully diluted there wasn't much upside. As usual, hardly any of the financial analysts believed him and Microsoft ended the day at 113 that day. On Friday, Microsoft closed at just over 96. In the last two months, Microsoft passed the market cap of GE, and exceeded IBM's software sales, making it truly the biggest software company in the world. The funny thing was, Microsoft is not at all keen to brag about this, what with that Department of Justice sniffing around. ®

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