Making Sense of the Tech Landscape

 | Dec 13, 2011 | 7:02 AM EST  | Comments
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Stock quotes in this article:

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txn

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avt

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What IS the truth about tech? What is really going on?

Are the problems macro, as in weakness in Europe, the way Texas Instruments (TXN) described it? Are the problems related to the secular decline in personal computers, a decline which has accelerated if you just look at Intel's (INTC) numbers. Or is the problem really more Thai tragedy and personal computers will get back on track soon enough, as Intel tried to explain to us. Is the problem slowing smart phone sales? Or just slowing smart phone sales from non-Apple (AAPL) vendors? Slowing television sales? Or just slowing sales from the Korean customer who wouldn't take the Corning glass? Is the problem a dramatic decline in telco spending, or is telco spending just frozen by ATT's (T) flailing attempt to buy T-Mobile.

No one knows. No one. It is incredibly confused out there. We don't know from one minute to the next what's really happening. Last night I had Avnet (AVT)(AVT) CEO Richard Hamada on. Avnet is the world's biggest tech supermarket. Hamada said November was better than October and that he's looking for some decent growth despite the Thai tragedy. He's got drive inventory which he can charge higher prices for because Thailand isn't coming back on that fast. That's just plain bullish.

Apple's selling Macs faster than anyone can recall. That's bullish. KLA Tencor (KLAC) got a $1.68 billion order for semi equipment last night from TSMC  and that's bullish. SAP, the world's largest integrator of enterprise IT is having a terrific quarter. That's bullish. Companies are continuing to buy cloud software because that business is growing like mad. Way way bullish.

So, here is where I come out. Europe's bad and 25% of tech is Europe. Away from Europe things aren't bad. The U.S. consumer is strong, so is the Asian consumer. But the Thai flooding has distorted tech to make it LOOK worse than it is, all things considered.

Sum it all up, I think tech's okay. It can't be great because you need the PC complex to grow 2-4 to make it hum. But it can't be bad because of the secular growth of the cloud and big data.

So, it is case by case.

I just wish there were more better cases.

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