Trouble for Tech ETFs

After a strong start to the year, some technology-based exchange-traded funds are fighting to hold on to gains as a big drop in Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) surprise third-quarter earnings miss hit the sector.   Apple’s share price is losing value, falling 10% after hitting $705 a share one month ago.  Hype surrounding the iPhone 5 boosted the stock to new highs, but weakening global growth halted the tech giant’s upward momentum. Apple accounts for the largest holding in the iShares Dow Jones US Technology fund (NYSE:IYW) and the Technology SPDR (NYSE:XLK).   IYW is down more than 7% and the XLK has dropped more than 5% over the past four weeks. But perhaps the biggest shock to the technology sector this week was Google. Google shares plunged 8% Thursday after pre-announcing third-quarter earnings midday.  The Internet giant ended the day as the worst performing stock on the S&P 500. Google’s big miss spurred traders to action as 12.35 billion Google shares changed hands; the largest single-day volume in more than a year.  The company reported a third-quarter profit of $9.03 per share, significantly lower than Wall Street’s estimate of $10.65 per share.   The Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (NYSE:FDN) traded lower following the third quarter release.  The fund, which tracks companies deriving at least 50% of its revenues from the Internet, fell 1.57%. Google is the fund’s top holding, accounting for 11% of the fund.

The PowerShares NASDAQ Internet Portfolio (NASDAQ:PNQI) also took a hit following Google’s earnings miss, closing down 1.52% on a day when Google shares traded at 3.4-times the average daily volume. PNQI has nearly a 10% holding in Google. But despite Google’s lackluster third-quarter performance, some analysts remain bullish on the stock.

“Our positive stance on Google is primarily based on its search business and ability to continue to evolve for continued secular online ad gains,” said Herman Leung, Susquehanna International Group analyst.  “Display and mobile continue to emerge strongly and long-term opportunities remain in new products such as Google+ and Google Wallet.” And Mark Mahaney, an analyst at Citigroup, reiterated his ‘buy’ rating on Google following the report.  “We see valuation as reasonable,” noted Mahaney.  “And we view Google as well positioned against several of consumer Internet’s biggest rends.” Earnings from technology bellwethers IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also disappointed.  IBM earnings didn’t quite meet the Street’s expectations, falling short of consensus estimates on both the top and bottom lines.  Revenue for the quarter was $24.75 billion, compared with an estimate of $25.36 billion, and EPS came in at $3.33 against an expected $3.61. Microsoft’s quarterly profit fell more than expected, down 22% as sales of computers running its Windows operating system declined.