Yesterday, two of the industry's biggest players announced their quarterly earnings, and the news was generally better than anticipated, given the recent slowdown in PC sales. Chipmaker Intel reported better-than-expected earnings based on lowered expectations, and IBM raised profits although it missed earnings projections. But given the disastrous results that were widely anticipated, the news was generally considered positive.

Intel says that net income rose to $2.9 billion on sales of $8.73 billion, a 52 percent increase over the same quarter a year ago. Most importantly, the company expects sales to increase again in the fourth quarter. "We had \[originally\] forecast a phenomenal quarter and we ended up having a pretty normal one," Intel CFO Andy Bryant told the press, alluding to a September warning that the company's results wouldn't be as good as originally thought.

Meanwhile, IBM experienced growth of 3 percent with a net income of $2 billion on sales of $21.8 billion, which is up 18 percent from the same quarter a year ago. The company also said that sales would rise in the coming quarter. "While the rate of growth for revenue continued to improve in the third quarter, it wasn't at a pace that we wanted," IBM Chief Financial Officer (CFO) John Joyce told the press yesterday.

Microsoft and Apple also will report their quarterly earnings this week