Bank technology firms weighed in last week with favorable second- quarter earnings that mostly met analysts' expectations.
But market reaction was mixed for the week as investors' continuing apprehension about technology shares sometimes overshadowed the positive operating results.
Gregory M. Gould, analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co., said several forces have conspired to hold down the prices of technology shares.
For one thing, he said, a three-year period of optimism regarding technology issues has given way to an era of more realistic assessments.
In addition, fears of inflation and interest rate hikes have caused investors to grow conservative. "There isn't a consensus yet over what the economy is doing," he said.
He also noted that many technology companies had sent negative signals with pre-earnings announcements. "There were 70 preannouncements for the June quarter - an unprecedented number," Mr. Gould said.
The combination of these forces has led technology investors to seek safety in large-capitalization stocks.
But Goldman's portfolio strategists said neither economic problems nor changes in interest rates are likely to rise to a level that would spell serious problems for growth stocks.
For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 46.24 points, to 5,473.06. The Nasdaq composite dropped 18.23, to 1,079.45.
In news affecting the financial services technology companies:
*Deluxe Corp. surprised most observers by posting nearly 24% year-to- year growth in net income.
The St. Paul-based check printer reported quarterly net income of more than $38 million, or 46 cents per share. This bettered Wall Street's consensus estimate by six cents, according to Zacks Investment Research Inc.
"We've just gone through three years of a significant transition, which included reduced expenses and costs," said Stuart Alexander, vice president at Deluxe. "We are beginning to see some results from those efforts."
*Sungard Data Systems Inc., Wayne, Pa., reported net income of $12.2 million, or 38 cents per share.
Sungard, which supplies software for investment product support and disaster recovery at banks, met earnings estimates.
The company's stock performance also was influenced by a favorable analyst's report. Stephen McLellan of Merrill Lynch & Co. reiterated medium- and long-term "buy" ratings for Sungard, according to a report on Bloomberg Business Newswire. The stock rose 62.5 cents for the week, closing Friday at $39.625 a share.
*Fiserv Inc. reported net income of $15.2 million, or 33 cents per share - a 27% increase from the second quarter of 1995. Earnings per share were consistent with Wall Street's estimates.
Shares of the Milwaukee-based outsourcing firm rose $3.50 last week, to $33.625.
"Fiserv has reported 42 continuous quarters of record growth" since it went public, said George D. Dalton, Fiserv's chairman and chief executive officer. "We have generated the momentum to hit our earnings targets quarter after quarter."
Fiserv's jump in stock price came after a report by Jerry R. Herman, an analyst at Everen Securities, Chicago, raising Fiserv's rating to "short- term outperform" from "market perform."
The stock also might have been affected by a contract Fiserv struck with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Scotiabank. The deal - valued at $1.5 billion over 10 years, according to an analyst at Merrill Lynch - ranks among the largest bank technology deals ever.
*Verifone Inc., the Redwood City, Calif.-based developer of payment automation systems, announced a stock repurchase program of up to 1.5 million shares.
Company officials set aside up to $67.5 million for the repurchase, which it expects to complete by yearend. Verifone has 25.2 million shares outstanding.
Its stock rose $1.25 a share, to $43.875, on Thursday's announcement of the repurchase plan. Earnings per share of 43 cents met expectations.
*Alltel Corp., parent of one of the top bank outsourcing forms, reported earnings in line with Wall Street's estimate of 48 cents per share.
The Little Rock, Ark.-based company's net income for the quarter rose 13%, to $91.9 million. For the week, the stock was down 50 cents, to $27.75.
Liz Moyer contributed to this article.