Thu09182014

Business & Real Estate

Fourth quarter gloom and doom?

If the first two weeks of stock-market action in September made you forget the presidential election or your personal problems, this week probably will put an end to that joy.

Stocks had a good two weeks and the Dow was basically flat, but investors have been uneasy for months as disappointing reports from nearly every part of the world have shown a weakness. The Federal Reserve’s QE3 announcement that it would use freshly created money to buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities every month will also put pressure on the stock market for the rest of this year and into next.

Following is a look at prospects for three local companies.

• Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP; $17.23). At the end of August, HP reported shrinking revenues for its fiscal third quarter. All the major businesses were affected, and the company suffered a large net loss from accounting write-downs. CEO Meg Whitman said the company dropped 10 percent in the PC area and 3 percent in the printer business from the same quarter last year. She provided a dim forecast for PCs and printers, once HP’s most important business.

The report also stated that HP is still among the world’s largest technology firms in terms of revenue but now faces numerous competitors. In August, the company said it had $9.9 billion in cash, down from last year.

• Google Inc. (GOOG; $749.77). The last time Google failed to deliver quarterly sales growth of at least 22 percent was December 2009. In 2009 Google centered its business on its search engine. Today Google generates 90 percent of revenue from online advertising.

In the June 2012 quarter, Google’s Android operating system captured approximately two-thirds of the global smartphone market. Critics have questioned the wisdom of Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, but Motorola owns a collection of patents to keep Google from legal attacks.

Google shares increased 0.81 percent Friday, closing at $733.99. The company traded in a 52-week range of $480 to $733. Analysts rate Google as a buy for now and in the long term.

• Apple Inc. (AAPL; $689.50). Apple is enjoying the success of its iPhone 5, selling more than 5 million to date. Apple must sell tens of millions of phones before the end of the year to justify its position as the world’s most valuable public company. Although Samsung Electronics Inc. sells more smartphones, Apple’s iPhone 5 profits will be far greater.

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