By Rex Crum, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Technology stocks finished higher Thursday as investors overcame their initial market concerns and got behind the likes of computer giant Hewlett-Packard Co.
H-P /zigman2/quotes/203461582/composite HPQ +0.09% rose 69 cents to $50.81 a share after the company reported a fiscal first-quarter profit late Wednesday that rose 25% from the year-ago period to $2.3 billion, or 96 cents a share, on $31.2 billion in sales.
Chief Executive Mark Hurd said H-P's performance was helped by strong sales of its personal computers, which totaled $10.6 billion, and a 4% rise in imaging and printing revenue to $6.2 billion.
Analysts such as Mark Moskowitz of J.P. Morgan said H-P's results suggest the company can continue to grow revenue as well as earnings.
"This development should help lift H-P's valuation," Moskowitz said. "Previously, the valuation had been partly hampered by an uncertain revenue growth story. Signs of continued [printing] improvements should also help the valuation in coming months." Read more about H-P's results.
The Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 15.4 points to 2,241, while the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index /zigman2/quotes/210598361/realtime SOX +1.20% , the Nasdaq Computer Index and the Morgan Stanley High Tech 35 Index all closed with small gains.
However, the performance of Nvidia Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200467500/composite NVDA +0.20% wasn't nearly as upbeat at H-P's, as the graphics chip maker's shares fell $1.17, or more than 6%, to $16.67.
Late Wednesday, Nvidia reported a fourth-quarter profit of $131.1 million, or 23 cents a share, turning around from a year-ago loss. Revenue more than doubled to $982.5 million. The results topped the estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
But Nvidia gave a first-quarter forecast in which it said it expects revenue to be flat with its fourth-quarter results. Still, that estimate exceeded analysts' forecast for sales of $931.2 million.
Storage-equipment maker NetApp Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209297588/composite NTAP -0.49% gave up 40 cents a share to close at $31.68. Late Wednesday, NetApp posted a third-quarter profit of $107.9 million, or 30 cents a share, on revenue of $1.01 billion. The company also gave a fourth-quarter forecast ahead of Wall Street analysts' estimates.
Dell sales beat expectations
Dell reports a dip in quarterly profit, but the computer maker also posts a rise in sales as revenue in laptops and services gains. Dan Gallagher reports.
However, BMO Capital Markets analyst Keith Bachman cut his rating on NetApp's stock to market perform from outperform, saying there are concerns about operating expenses and lower revenue in the upcoming months.
Chip-equipment company Applied Materials Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209393259/composite AMAT +1.87% also reported a first-quarter profit late Wednesday, with earnings of $82.8 million, or 6 cents a share, on sales of $1.85 billion. During the same period a year ago, Applied Materials lost $132.9 million.
Applied Materials' shares fell 31 cents, or 2.4%, to close at $12.68.
Online travel site Priceline.com Inc. shares surged $20.08, or more than 9%, to $232.95 after the company reported its fourth-quarter earnings doubled to $78.5 million, or $1.55 a share, from the prior-year period.