The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, is the tech industry’s biggest bash. It’s where nearly every big name in the space, with the notable exception of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), goes to show off their latest and greatest gadgets and game-changers. The consensus read on this year’s CES show, which wrapped up Friday, was that it was a bit lackluster in terms of new product buzz when compared to years past. However, the show always offers up tradable trends that smart investors can put to work.
By far, the biggest tradable trend to come out of CES is Ultrabooks. These are laptop computers with (finally) excellent battery life, fast boot-up and SSD storage capabilities. Not only do they work well, they also look great, a trend we can thank Apple’s MacBook Air for inspiring. Ultrabook computers will be priced around $1,000 depending on manufacturer, and they likely will be huge sellers in 2012. Benefiting from this trend is chipmaker Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). The company announced at CES that its third generation of Core microprocessors will power the new ultra-thin devices, and the move to these devices could translate into big gains for investors who hold INTC shares.
Software behemoth Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) stands to benefit from the Ultrabook wave — as its current operating systems will be the brains of these new devices. Later this year, Microsoft plans to release its new Windows 8 operating system, and that should further spark sales of its core product. During the past month, Microsoft shares are up nearly 10%, and part of that is because of expectations for a strong year. Investors who boot up MSFT shares now could be very happy in the months ahead.
Computer maker Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) is one of several companies unveiling Ultrabook models at CES. The direct seller’s XPS 13 laptop has a 13.3-inch display and features edge-to-edge screen glass. The sleek device will have Intel’s Core processors, as well as Microsoft’s latest OS. The XPS 13 is less than a quarter of an inch at its thinnest point, and Dell claims it is the most compact Ultrabook on the market. If consumers embrace the $999 device, investors also might embrace DELL shares.
Optical glass maker Corning (NYSE:GLW) made a giant ape-sized splash at CES with its new and improved Gorilla Glass. The very thin and damage-resistant optical glass is widely used on smartphones and tablets, and thanks to the engineers at Corning, the glass now is 20% tougher. What this means is manufacturers of smartphones and tablets can get their products even lighter and thinner without sacrificing durability or strength. The new Gorilla Glass is likely to be a big revenue winner for Corning, and that could mean King Kong-sized returns for GLW investors.
Sirius XM Radio
Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) showcased its new Lynx satellite radio receiver at CES. It’s a small, well-built device with a user-friendly interface. It also comes at a reasonable price of $250. The big driver here, however, is the recent improvement in U.S. auto sales. New cars are relying more and more on technology and sophisticated interfaces, including the integration of Sirius XM Radio. If consumers continue visiting the lots and buying new cars, Sirius XM Radio — and SIRI shares — could witness one of its best years in a very long time.