Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) are just three tech companies that could miss their fourth-quarter earnings estimates due to concerns about the fiscal cliff.

Intel corporation

Usually tech companies see some nice increases in orders during December because corporate IT departments tend to spend the money that’s left over in their budgets on tech gadgets that were on their wish lists. However many corporations tightened their belts in December as concerns over the fiscal cliff rose.

Reuters reports that tech analysts have spoken with a number of IT buyers at various corporations who said they held back on their purchases last month because of Washington’s delays in a deal that would avoid the fiscal cliff. An agreement was not reached by lawmakers until late on New Year’s Day, and that deal was signed into law on Jan. 2 by President Obama.

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) will be the first major tech company to release its quarterly earnings report. IBM and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) will follow. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)’s earnings report is due Jan. 17. The company’s fourth-quarter guidance, which was released with its third-quarter earnings report, indicated approximately $13.6 billion and a gross margin percentage between 57 and 58 percent.

Analysts on Wall Street have significantly lowered their expectations for earnings from tech companies during the fourth quarter of 2012. They now expect to see a 1 percent drop in earnings for S&P 500 tech companies, compared to a 9.4 percent rise that was previously expected during the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile concerns over a fiscal cliff continue as Congress tries to deal with another fight over cuts in federal spending and the debt ceiling. These concerns could keep earnings for tech companies low during the first quarter of 2013.