Stock watch: Apple rebounding, Facebook search the day after, Dell deal talks

We’re watching the stock of tech companies in the news today:

Apple shares are rebounding this morning after falling more than 3 percent Tuesday. As the Merc’s Pat May reported, the steady drop in Apple stock in the past couple of weeks had wiped out $200 billion in market value since the Cupertino company’s shares had peaked at more than $700 a share in the fall. Most recently, Apple shares fell sharply after a Wall Street Journal report Monday that the company had pulled back on orders for iPhone 5 components because of week demand.

Today’s sharp stock rise — shares were up 3.5 percent to $503.70 as of this post — comes despite a downgrade by Pacific Crest this morning. Still, 36 of 38 Wall Street research firms rate Apple’s stock a buy, according to USA Today. And as Apple prepares to report first-quarter earnings next Wednesday, some brokers reportedly say concerns about iPhone sales are “overblown.”

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yelp: Shares of all these companies are down the day after Facebook unveiled Graph Search, which some said could pose a challenge to the social network’s competitors. Still, many analysts say the new tool, which searches within Facebook only, whose release has no timetable and whose revenue-generating power is unknown, is not likely to unseat Google as the dominant Web search engine. “We view the relationship between Facebook Graph Search and Google as both competitive and complementary,” Piper Jaffray analysts said, according to Reuters

Facebook shares are down more than 1.75 percent to $29.55 as of this post after falling more than 2 percent Tuesday. Shares of Microsoft — it’s unclear whether Bing search is playing much of a role in Graph Search — are down slightly, less than 0.3 percent. Google shares are down more than 1 percent to $716.55. Yelp, whose shares were hit hard Tuesday, continues to decline. Although the Reuters article mentioned above says analysts think Graph Search lacks the “depth” Yelp’s reviews provide, the San Francisco company’s shares were down more than 4.5 percent to $19.65 as of this post. Yelp shares closed more than 6 percent lower Tuesday.

• Dell shares are down sharply, off more than 4 percent to $12.60 as of this post, after making huge gains over the past couple of days on reports that the Texas-based computer maker is in talks to go private. Menlo Park-based private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners is leading the deal, which is in its advanced stages and has four major banks available to provide financing, Reuters reported Tuesday. A leveraged buyout worth more than $20 billion, the New York Times says, would be a “radical step” to ensure Dell survives in a world in which personal computer sales are giving way to that of tablets and smartphones. Dell appears to be shifting its focus to providing hardware and software services.



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