Grungy crooner Meatloaf once howled out that "two outta three ain't bad", which is precisely what co...
Grungy crooner Meatloaf once howled out that "two outta three ain't bad", which is precisely what could be said about the once moribund TMT, tech, media and telecoms sector.
The shakeout continues in some ways with stories of insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings still rife in business pages involving companies such as Worldcom and Cable & Wireless.
But there are definite signs that technology and telecommunications are improving their earnings potential, and the bounce in equities in these sectors since early October has greatly helped investor confidence.
Recovery in the media sector is less sure, if only because there is no clear trend of a strong recovery in advertising revenues so far.
But just how well are the three legs of the new age troika performing, and what are some of the brighter prospects looking ahead to next year?
Well, consider the story of online retailing, perhaps the tech story of the year.
Forget last year's cash-burn and insolvency proceedings, because this year the survivors have paid handsomely to those willing to ditch the certainties of big FTSE companies for big bets on the internet.
Lastminute.com has almost tripled its price this year, going from 30p a share on 31 December last year to its current 106p price, which is just shy of its 117p 52-week high. £242m market cap.
Ebookers.com was worth just 94p per share in February this year, but has climbed to 372p, with a market value of £185m.
Recent figures from the US show that online trade increased 34% to $11.06bn in the third quarter compared to the same period last year.
That compares to an increase in retail sales overall of just 5.8% to $827.5bn for the same quarter.
Retailer Amazon.com is trading in the black.
Looking ahead it is not just retailers that are tipped for bigger and better things.
Companies as diverse as security software maker Surfcontrol, application service provider Netstore, and x-ray specialist Bede have either reported their first quarter of positive cashflow, or are nearly there, or are reporting strong sales growth.
Surfcontrol shares hit a high of 672p in March, and currently trade at 435p, up from their low in early October of 262p.
Netstore ended last year at 20p, fell to 12.5p by early October, and have since gained about 40% to 17.5p.
Its current market capitalisation of £16.6m is supported by £15.4m in cash reserves that are not decreasing as it just reported its first quarterly net cash inflow.
It recently gained 14th place in Deloitte & Touche's recent Fast 50 awards for the top technology companies in the London and South East Region category.
And sales in the quarter to September increased 400% compared to the same period last year.
Bede's share price has fallen from 211p in January to 17.5p recently.
However, its directors recently bought nearly 140,000 shares between them at 17p-18p each, and shares popped back over the 20p level.
Bede has been caned by the market because its primary market, providing specialist x-ray machines to chip makers, has been depressed by the down cycle in the chip making industry.
Cycles such as this have been going on ever since silicon semiconductors were first invented, and it is likely that Bede's position as a top niche player will enable it to surf the wave of recovery with ease.
Thech share prices may not be music to investors ears at present, but companies such as these above all inhabit important places in our everyday lives and are not without the means to take advantage of improving global economic prospects next year.
Bigger technology plays such as Sage and Arm have suffered throughout this year, but are also in a position to provide returns once the business environment turns.
Logica and CMG have merged into Europe's largest provider of mobile communications platform software, and will benefit as income streams from multimedia messaging take off.
Media remains the single leg of the troika yet to report a return to form across the board.
Advertising giant WPP has recovered fairly well: it dropped from £13.23 in March 2000 to a low of 390p in early October this year, before recovering to 553p - a 40% gain over a two-month period.
Reuters has recovered 46% in the same period, going from 160p to 235p, and BSkyB has recovered 41%, going from 458p to 646p.
However, the wider FTSE media and photography sector has not bounced back as spectacularly.
It went from 2,585.6 points on 9 October to 3,315 points by 2 December, a 28% gain, but that after it fell from a level of more than 10,000 points in March 2000.
Among the performers dragging the index down recently have been EMI, Johnston Press, Capital Radio and Scottish Media Group.
EMI's woes are well known: it is not selling enough CDs because it doesn't have enough good acts on its books and it is suffering along with the rest of the music industry because it is unable to develop a profitable internet business model.
Both Johnston Press and Capital Radio have exhibited severe volatility in recent months.
Johnstone actually hit its low this year in July with a share price of 331p, bouncing around before hitting another low near 335p in early October, and finally climbing to its current 387p price.
Unlike most stocks Capital Radio actually fell sharply in mid-November before recovering to its current 532p price.
And apart from frenzied bid speculation, Scottish Media Group would likely have remained mired around the 80p-90p level, where it remained stuck from August through October before rising on news of asset sales to its current 110p price.
Media is supposed to be one of the most sensitive cyclical sectors, and on the vanguard of any upturn because of its exposure to advertising income.
But with most media groups propped up by advertising linked to retail spending there is some trepidation about just what would replace that advertising income were consumers to stop buying.
Until more certainty returns about advertising across the economy, e.g., in sectors such as financial services - hard hit by the stock market downturn - and manufacturing, there is a risk that advertising's eggs are all in one, retail consumer-led, basket.
Continued in part 2...
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