With tech earnings season about to start, investors should be aware that a flurry of the industry’s less-followed players have been warning about emerging weakness across the enterprise and telecommunications-networking landscape.
Evercore ISI hardware analyst Amit Daryanani, speaking Tuesday on Barron’s Live, noted that heading into earnings he has concerns about weakness in IT enterprise spending, continued soft demand from communications carriers, and continued caution by consumers. The primary bright spot he sees heading into earnings: spending on cloud and AI infrastructure.
The list of companies providing cautious commentary on the outlook is growing by the day.
NetScout Systems stock (ticker: NTCT) is down 17% on Tuesday after the cybersecurity software company slashed its revenue forecast for its March 2024 fiscal year to a range of $840 million to $860 million, down from a previous forecast of $915 million to $945 million. NetScout also trimmed its adjusted profit per share forecast for the year to $2 to $2.20, down from $2.20 to $2.32. The company said it is seeing “slower order conversion,” due to “industry and economic headwinds facing our customers” that began in September.
Ericsson American depositary receipts (ERIC) are 3.3% lower after the networking infrastructure company on Tuesday provided disappointing financial guidance. “We expect the underlying uncertainty impacting our Mobile Networks business to persist into 2024,” the company said.
Adtran (ADTN), which provides networking hardware, on Monday warned that it now sees third-quarter revenue of $272.3 million, below its previous guidance range of $275 million to $305 million. Adtran said that its “customers remain focused on reducing inventory levels and managing capital expenses.”
Late last week, Belden (BDC), another network infrastructure provider, said it now sees third-quarter revenue of $625 million, down from a previous forecast of $675 million to $690 million. “Demand began to weaken in the third quarter, adding to ongoing pressure from channel destocking,” Belden said in its announcement. “We believe softer demand will continue as we move into the fourth quarter, impacting both revenue and profitability.”
A10 Networks (ATEN), which also provides networking infrastructure, likewise provided September quarter preliminary results that failed to match previous estimates. “In our third quarter we experienced delays related to North American service provider customers pushing out capital expenditures,” the company said earlier this month. “Deals we expected to close at the end of the quarter were delayed into future periods.”
Cambium Networks (CMBM), which provides wireless-network infrastructure, said earlier this month that it now sees third quarter revenue of $40 million to $45 million, below previous guidance of $62 million to $70 million. The company cited a number of reasons for the big miss, including a delay in government orders due to U.S. government budgetary timing issues, and a decrease in orders from distributors in the company’s enterprise business, among other things.
Tech earnings season kicks off Wednesday with results from Netflix (NFLX), to be followed by a deluge of financial reports next week from Alphabet (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), International Business Machines (IBM), Meta Platforms (META), ServiceNow (NOW), Amazon.com (AMZN), Intel (INTC), and Juniper Networks (JNPR), among others.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.
Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.
“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.
Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.
The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.
Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.
But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.
The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.
Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.
At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.
Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. “We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.
Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.
Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.
Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”
“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.
But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”
The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.
When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.
It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.
“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.
For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.
Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.
She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.
Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.
“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’