Buying Up Before the Slump Hits

Tech stocks declined on earnings and outlook, but Oracle and Sun each had the resources for billion-dollar acquisitions

It was the week when tech stocks slid yet industry majors still found cash for acquisitions.

Intel sparked a sell-off of tech shares despite boosting its quarterly profit by half. Its stock fell by a quarter in two days after coming in slightly behind its forecast, and despite CEO Paul Otellini's assertion that demand remained strong. 

Rival AMD posted its fifth quarterly loss in a row, thanks mainly to the cost of its ATI acquisition. Its loss of $1.77 billion was equal to its revenue for the quarter.

While the industry fretted about the impact of the economic slump, Oracle won over rival BEA Systems with a $1.3 billion sweetener, making it the undisputed king of middleware. The $8.5 billion price tag was up 27% on the original offer, concludes yet another high-profile takeover battle by acquisitive Larry Ellison.

Sun Microsystems bought open-source database firm MySQL for $1 billion in cash and shares. CEO Jonathan Schwarz said the future of software was in services.  IBM reported that services, as well as the lower dollar, helped it to a 12% profit boost for the quarter.

At MacWorld, Steve Jobs unveiled a super-thin laptop and plans for a new movie download service.  Apple's stock fell, despite the announcements, along with the rest of the sector.

Nokia said it would close down a German factory that employs more than 2,000 staff, saying the location was no longer viable. Local authorities launched a probe into whether the company abused $129 million in state subsidies.

Microsoft found itself in the sights once more of the European Commission, this time over its Office suite, the source of a third of its profits.

Yahoo agreed to deliver mobile ads to T-Mobile UK, following up an existing deal with rival Vodafone. The internet firm also threw its weight behind the online ID standard OpenID, tripling the number of accounts to 368 million and laying down a challenge to Microsoft and Google.

Telstra continued its long-running argument over industry regulation with the newly-elected national government. It plans legal action over a A$940 million subsidy of a rival broadband consortium.

China's internet user numbers reached 210 million at the end of last year, just a nose behind the US, while officials called for global cooperation in the war on piracy.

Finally, Google pumped another $25 million into five good causes, including climate change and health issues in Africa and Asia, while Hungarian scientists came up with a program that recognizes different dog barks.