Tech Stocks Finishing Near Session Highs

Technology stocks were finishing near their session highs this afternoon, supported by a big jump for Apple (AAPL) following the iPhone manufacturer’s yearly product conference yesterday while shares of technology companies in the S&P 500 were pushing to an 0.9% gain.

In company news, shares of Palo Alto Networks Inc (PANW) rose Thursday after the networking equipment company reported strong fiscal Q4 financial results and forecast above-consensus Q1 earnings and revenue, prompting a surge of mostly positive changes in analyst price targets today.

The company last night reported a $0.28 per share gain during the three months ended July 31, beating the Capital IQ consensus by $0.03 per share. Revenue jumped 59.3% over year-ago levels to $283.9 million, easily topping the $256.55 million consensus view.

For the current quarter ending in October, Palo Alto is projecting per-share earnings in a range of $0.31 to $0.32 on between $280 million to $284 million in revenue. Analysts, on average, are expecting a $0.30 per share Q1 profit on around $269.78 million in revenue.

Needham & Co. had the most optimistic outlook for the company shares over the next year, raising its price target by $20 to $202 a share. Stifel Nicolaus also increased its price target by $20 to $200 a share while FBR Capital bumped its price target by $25 and Piper Jaffray raised its price target by $15, both reaching $200 a share.

Analysts at Wunderlich and Oppenheimer both raised their respective price targets by $10 to $190 a share while Gabelli & Co. sees the stock climbing to just $140 a share, an increase of $9 over its prior price target. But the real outlier today was UBS, which cut its price target by $4 to $202 a share.

PANW shares were up over 7% at $177.37 apiece, down from an earlier session high at $179.65 a share. Before today’s advance, the stock already had risen more than 65% over the past 12 months.

In other sector news,

(+) ENVI, Accepts $125 mln acquisition proposal by Ericsson (ERIC), which will pay $4.10 in cash for each ENVI share, a nearly 116% premium over yesterday’s closing price.

(-) SIGM, Reports Q2 non-GAAP net income of $0.12 per share and a 36.2% year-over-year rise in revenue to $58.3 mln. Analysts were expecting a $0.06 per share profit on $55.69 mln in revenue.

Companies: Palo Alto Networks, Inc.
Price: 176.90 Price Change: +11.73 Percent Change: +7.10

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