European shares dip as earnings news weighs

Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:01am EDT

* FTSEurofirst 300 off 0.3 percent

* Tech stocks weak after Google results miss

* Aggreko drops 7 percent, warns on profit

By Tricia Wright

LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - European shares dipped on Friday after four days of gains, with sentiment dampened by unexpectedly weak results from U.S. tech bellwether Google .

The FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.3 percent at 1116.98 by 0827 GMT, after it closed 0.2 percent higher at 1,120.56 points on Thursday, just shy of a 14-month peak of 1,122.76 hit in mid-September.

Tech stocks felt the pinch, with Google having tumbled 8 percent on Thursday after quarterly results that missed analyst expectations as its core advertising business slowed.

Of the S&P 500 companies to have reported so far to have reported so far, 24 percent have missed expectations, according to data from Thomson Reuters Starmine compiled before Thursday's earnings were factored in.

Among weak European tech issues, Nokia was down 1 percent, STMicroelectronics shed 2.1 percent, and SAP slipped 0.4 percent.

"Company earnings remain under pressure. It is possible that the (market) highs for the year are in," said Lex van Dam, hedge fund manager at Hampstead Capital, which manages around $500 million of assets.

Aggreko headed the list of fallers on the FTSEurofirst 300, down 7 percent in high volume trading, after the temporary power provider downgraded its 2012 profit outlook due to provisions for bad debts and adverse exchange rates.

Capital expenditure in the first half of 2013 will be below 2012 as a result of the weakening economic outlook in many of its markets, as well as the need to absorb the fleet it built for the London Olympics, it said.

"We believe Aggreko continues to manage its business cautiously (the group has to date never had a material bad debt) and we would remain hopeful of some unwind to this bad debt provision, but this now seems unlikely to occur during the remainder of 2012," brokers at Espirito Santo said.

After just over an hour's trade, volume in the stock was already around three times its 90-day daily average, against the FTSEurofirst 300 at 14.5 percent of its 90-day daily average.

The Euro STOXX 50 fell 0.5 percent to 2,561.61, though it has managed a near 4-percent rise over the course of the week. For the index, technical strategists urged a caution.

"Don't get too aggressively bullish just yet," Phil Roberts, technical strategist at Barclays, said.

"It's still got a lot of resistance on the upside and whilst that resistance is there, it's just a case of... patience," he said, noting the index must knock out the year's high in particular, at 2,611, "before it's in the clear".