Bank technology stocks held firm despite weaknesses in other technology sectors.
Altera Corp., which makes computer chips, shed $9 Thursday to close $52.375 after it lowered earnings expectations for the second quarter. The news affected many technology stocks, but those in the banking and electronic commerce sectors held their ground.
Goldman Sachs & Co.'s composite U.S. technology index, which lists many bank vendors, lost 5.4 points for the week, closing Friday at 157.6. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 265.49, to 7,622.42.
Sterling Commerce, a Dallas-based vendor of electronic commerce software, announced a deal with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to provide cross- border electronic data interchange services linking to vendors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
But Sterling advised Wall Street to lower earnings expectations for its fiscal 1998, which starts next month. Its shares fell more than $2 Wednesday. For the week it was off $1.44, closing Friday at $33.06.
Wall Street's consensus estimate had been $1.28 a share for 1998.
Neeraj K. Vohra, analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey & Co., said the market for banking technology stocks is "highly volatile" and Sterling's suffered from "a lot of momentum investors' looking for an upside surprise."
He pointed out that Sterling's stock had reached $39.625 in mid-July, "a time of year when people were starting to make their bets for the next quarter's results."
The analyst maintained his "buy" rating, however. The company still trades at a relative discount of 23 times forward earnings, is growing more than 30% annually, and has more than $5 a share of cash on hand.
"Sterling is a great company, with a great management team, but it does not beat estimates," Mr. Vohra said.
Atlanta-based Harbinger Corp., a Sterling competitor, did better, its shares rising $3.10, to $35.
Harbinger hit a low of $19 in late April but has consistently beaten Wall Street estimates.
The company "has been an exceptionally strong performer since the spring doldrums," said Gary Craft, analyst at Robertson, Stephens & Co.
Last week Harbinger bought Acquion, a Greenville, S.C. provider of electronic catalogues and procurement systems for businesses, for $12 million in cash.
SEI Investment Corp. in Oaks, Pa., was selected as trust accounting outsource supplier to BankBoston Corp. Terms of the five-year deal were not disclosed. The bank, which has more than $32 billion of assets under management, will convert more than 27,000 trust accounts to SEI's system by October 1998.
Rick Lieb, president of SEI, said it will be spending more than $9 million to overcome year-2000 software complications.
SEI recently signed up Wachovia Corp. and Norwest Corp., and said it expects another technology-savvy bank to hire it within weeks. SEI's stock rose 25 cents for the week, to $29.