Sector Snap: Tech shares up after strong earnings


NEW YORK (AP) — Upbeat earnings reports helped lift technology stocks Friday, with Oracle Corp. signaling an uptick in corporate information technology spending and Research in Motion Ltd. reporting strong consumer demand for its BlackBerrys.

The overall market was mixed, but IT stocks were among the top gainers in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, along with energy companies.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index posted a gain of about 20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,200 in early afternoon trading, while the Dow Jones industrial average slipped 3 points to 10,305.

After the market’s close Thursday, Oracle said its quarterly profit jumped 12.5 percent. The news offered investors some hope that businesses are starting to loosen the purse strings for IT spending after clamping down on budgets during the recession.

The company’s results “showed us that enterprise IT spending is picking up nicely,” Jefferies & Co. analyst Ross MacMillan told clients in a note.

RIM’s net income jumped 59 percent in the most recent quarter, a surprise to most analysts, who feared that rising competition in the smart-phone market would dent sales.

RIM sold 10 million BlackBerrys during the three months ended in November, a company record.

VeriSign Inc., which runs some of the key directories that computers need to find Web sites, also contributed to the sector’s gains. On Thursday, the company said it would raise its fees for “.com” and “.net” registrations.

Pacific Crest analyst Rob Owens estimates the price hike could add a penny per share to VeriSign’s earnings next year, and $7 million in sales.

VeriSign shares rose $1.65, or 7.4 percent, to $23.84, while RIM jumped $6.23, or 10 percent, to $69.69.

Oracle was up $1.69, or 7.4 percent, to $24.57 after hitting a new 52-week high of $24.74 earlier in the day. The stock had traded between $13.80 and $23.46 in the past year.