By Benjamin Pimentel, MarketWatch
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Technology stocks were modestly lower Monday, led by shares of Apple Inc., which slipped back below the $600 level.
Apple (AAPL) shed 3.2% to close at $583.98, as the Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) edged down by 0.7% to close at 3,046.
The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) also was down a fraction.
Also in the red were shares of Netflix Inc. (NFLX), which lost 4.3% to close at $80.14.
Apple was highlighted in a lengthy report by the New York Times over the weekend, which took a look at the methods the company resorts to minimize its tax liability. The article noted these methods are used by many high-tech firms and companies in other industries.
Shares of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) traded up 0.1% to $32.02 after the software giant unveiled a digital-reader partnership with bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS), whose shares soared 51.7% to close at $20.75.
Shares of Demand Media Inc. (DMD) jumped 14.6% to close at $8.31 following a report over the weekend that the company pulled out of a deal to go private.
According to a report by the AllThingsD tech blog, Demand Media was "deep into discussions" with Thomas H. Lee Partners. a Boston-based private-equity firm, to go private in a $1.2 billion deal. Citing unnamed sources, the story said Demand pulled out for reasons that included "complications related to its financing and the ability to retain executives in its aftermath."
Evercore downgraded shares of Demand Media to equal weight on Monday, noting that the stock has reached the broker's price target in relation to the news.
"We believe the reported discussions speak to the attractive valuation of Demand Media, particularly given the unfolding, potential boom in domain-name registrations in light of recent actions by ICANN. DMD is a leading participant in the domain-name market," according to analyst Ken Sena.
Shares of Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) edged up a fraction to close at $13. ThinkEquity analyst Suji De Silva trimmed his price target for the chip maker's stock to $14 from $15, while maintaining a hold rating.
"We expect Nvidia to benefit from recovering broader demand, but expect consumer-PC recovery to be measured and limited near-term upside. We also expect handset-revenue headwinds as Samsung transitions to an in-house application processor from Nvidia," he wrote.