Although technology stocks fell with the overall market Monday, the overall decline could have mixed implications for the major companies and consumers
In late trading, the S&P 500 Index was off 5.4 percent and most tech stocks were off about the same, although both Hewlett-Packard and Cisco dropped more than 4.5 percent and Oracle and AMD both slipped nearly 8 percent. Still, if the overall rout continues, tech company executives may change their outlooks for 2012. Internet equipment providers including Cisco and Brocade Communications could see lower demand for networking products.
For sure, some of the tech companies that have mulled an IPO probably will hold off right now. They could include well-known names like Facebook as well as lesser-known ones such as Imperva, a Redwood Shores, California cyber software developer that already filed to go public.
The market has applauded some tech stock IPOs over the past 12 months such as LinkedIn and Open Table and looked at others with a yawn, such as Freescale Semiconductor, the former chip business of Motorola that was sold to private equity investors.
Prediction: any big uncertainty will stall the IPO market and probably send the new companies into the arms of bigger tech buyers, headed by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Apple and Texas Instruments, which have deep pockets and need for new products.
Meanwhile, while a market downturn may slow down investment, the tech sector needs to constantly churn out new products. So the semiconductor industry is unlikely to stop spending on new plants which the Semiconductor Industry Association estimates cost at least $6 billion apiece.
GlobalFoundries, the California-based company that combines technology from AMD with Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Investment Corp., is spending $4.2 billion on a new plant in upstate New York. In fact, it has asked state authorities about building another one --- with some subsidization.
Korea's Samsung Electronics has spent $3.6 billion on a new plant in Austin, Texas, its only U.S. chip plant. And industry leader Intel is expanding two plants and spending more on two new U.S. chip factories to produce 14-nanometer units.
If there is a recession, interest costs are likely to remain low, so financing these plants shouldn't be a problem.
Intel itself has acquired scores of companies, such as security software leader McAfee, to get new products. New chips that add security to processing, computation, mobile communications and video need to be built somewhere.
Apple, which no longer manufactures products, works tightly with its developers and suppliers to achieve design supremacy and versatility. Analysts including Peter Misek of Jefferies believe the Cupertino, California electronics company will merge operating systems for its Macs with its iPhone and iPads into one chip, likely to be made in an Asian foundry.
Finally, one of the human costs of the U.S. recession has been fewer people are working as companies deploy technology for smarter performance. That means a steady, if perhaps slower demand for technology products. But Detroit will keep adding chips to new cars, Silicon Valley will keep upgrading product performance and industrial U.S.A. will seek technology to become more productive.
On July 30, even Taiwan-based manufacturer Foxconn, which is reportedly Apple's biggest contract manufacturer, announced it would buy as many as 1 million robots over the next two years. Foxconn employs about 1.2 million workers in Taiwan and China today.
Although it did not announce a vendor, most likely the robots will come from ABB, the Swiss-Swedish engineering giant. Every one of them will be crammed with chips, deploy multiple software operating systems and be linked to controls all run by technology products.