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Sector Bets: Banks Frothy, Tech Not Worthy

Kevin Cook

By now, everyone knows the overnight Apple story in the Wall Street Journal about the company scaling back orders for iPhone components.

Funny thing is, I remember a Fortune story from December 17 where their dedicated Apple-watcher since 1982, Phillip Elmer-DeWitt, compiled that week's analyst views and price target cuts based on those production cuts. Makes you wonder how fresh this WSJ info is and what is already priced-in.

Anyway, Technology earnings were not expected to be bright, and with Apple comprising 25% of the sector's haul, we need to pay attention to the downward estimate revisions that may still come this week with the consensus holding around $13.45 for the past 60 days.

Another big Tech name to watch is IBM, which just got cut to "Neutral" this morning by JPMorgan. I don't know the details yet of the JPM call. But I do know IBM slipped to a Zacks #4 Rank (sell) last week based on dowward estimate revisions. IBM reports next Tuesday according to the company website.

My take has been that Technology looks cheap and the sector has underperformed for the last 6 months. I thought the bad news was all priced in. Apparently not. And Tech could only get cheaper if the big currents of IT capital spend continue to slow. The next few weeks of reports and guidance will either mark a bottom or keep a lid on tech.

Now, how about the best performing secotor of 2012, the Financials. This is a BIG week for financial earnings with the bulk of the bulge bracket reporting, including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

It seems that if the S&P 500 is going to breakout to new highs, it would take some continued leadership from Financials at least.

But as Sheraz Mian pointed out this morning, the national foreclosure settlement, among other things, has taken earnings growth for the Finance sector down from 9.7% for Q4 to just 2%.

Given this underwhelming state of affairs in two key sectors (which may be indicative of the health of the consumer and the economy) are you putting money to work in Tech or Financials this week or quarter? And why, or why not?

Read the analyst report on AAPL

Read the analyst report on IBM

Read the analyst report on JPM

Read the analyst report on GS

Read the analyst report on BAC

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