Taking Tech's Temperature
By Pablo Galarza

(MONEY Magazine) – UBS global tech strategist Pip Coburn says investors should watch out in 2004 for "the biggest hype of all, the notion of a tech renaissance." Here's how he sees it unfolding: First, corporate buyers will become more willing to buy IT (information technology) gear, and the industry will post impressive quarterly profit numbers. Then we'll start hearing talk about the next big thing, whether it's nanotechnology or ILM (information life-cycle management). "Folks will confuse the panoply of blurry buzzwords and acronyms as adding up to something as powerful and meaningful as the PC, mobile phone or the advent of local area networking," Coburn says. "It won't be, but who will listen by that point?" He predicts that the Nasdaq will surge between April and June.

But Coburn warns that the mania won't last long. As analysts tweak 2004 profit projections higher to justify lofty stock price targets, even the tiniest earnings miss will be devastating, he says. And once investors realize that they've paid frothy prices for what amount to ho-hum growth rates--Coburn says 15%, tops--no story, however beguiling, will keep them in these stocks. --PABLO GALARZA