Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) became the market's latest earnings victim Thursday. Its profit warning, released after the markets closed Wednesday, led to a widespread tech sell-off Thursday and yet another retreat for the Nasdaq. The tech index undid Wednesday's gains by dropping 1.5 percent, or 51.00, to close at 3472.10. The Dow lost 0.55 percent, or 59.56, to 10724.92.
Dell said that its third-quarter profits were "trending" below expectations and that weak sales in Europe would cause fourth-quarter profits to fall slightly short of expectations. Dell closed down nearly 11 percent, or $3, to $25.19. Hewlett-Packard (HWP) fell in sympathy, dropping 7 percent, or $7.37, to $88.25.
Micron Technology Inc. (MU) beat earnings expectations but fell anyway, losing almost 13 percent, or $5.94, to $41. And the Internet consulting sector suffered yet another blow as earnings disappointments caused Breakaway Solutions Inc. (BWAY) to plunge 39 percent, or $2.94, to $4.56.
Meanwhile, the Priceline.com Inc. slide accelerated. Following an announcement that it would shutter its gas-and-grocery businesses, the company fell 38 percent, or $3.56, to $5.81.
Other big losers Thursday included Internet Capital Group Inc. (ICGE) , down 21 percent, or $3.31, to $12.37. Nextel dropped 12 percent, or $5.37, to $38.44. Large-cap techs were down, with bigger losses in the Internet sector in general and the b-to-b space in particular. Chip and semiconductor companies were likewise down, but rare gainers cropped up among the telcos. Winners there included Ciena Corp., JDS Uniphase Corp. (JDSU) , Nortel Networks Corp. (NT) and 3Com Corp. (COMS)