There are hundreds of technology companies that could benefit from trends and/or disruptors in 2013 with a big resulting upside in their stock. Many others could take a hit, becoming a buying opportunity. Here are a few of the prominent ones to keep an eye on this year.
Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock price could continue to struggle. Apple faces increased competition for all its existing products; industry-best margins will take a hit if the company is forced to lower prices to boost sales; and it risks the buying public (and investors) tiring of the current game plan of releasing products that are upgrades rather than all-new. Apple has also been reduced to chasing other companies like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) instead of being the one that sets the trends — consider that it released a smaller iPad and a bigger iPhone in 2012.
Apple also faces challenges with a product release cycle that risks being predictable (in which case consumers hold off on purchases, causing quarterly revenue spikes and giving competitors the opportunity to steal thunder with preemptive releases), but also causes consumer backlash when Apple tries to mix it up and people end up buying a “new” iPad a few days before the surprise release of a replacement.
But if the new iPhone is a hit (and not just a modest improvement), if Apple figures out China or one of its possible disruptive plays (gaming in living room, iWatch or Apple television) launches, its stock price could recover or even stage a repeat of its impressive run through much of 2012. Whatever happens, Apple will remain popular and an industry leader, with massive sales.
The BB10 launch that was intended to herald the beginning of the former Research In Motion’s resurgence didn’t turn out quite the way they planned. If new BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) devices had been U.S.-ready at launch, that might have been different, but it lost some momentum and now finds itself preparing for all-important U.S. launches that will find it competing for attention against similar events for smartphones like Samsung’s Galaxy S 4. With the recent U.S. launch of the Z10 and the highly anticipated Q10 (with physical keyboard), BlackBerry could turn things around in 2013, cement third place in the mobile platform wars and remain relevant. Or it could fizzle out and end up being sold off for parts — like its operating system, secure messaging system, hardware and patents.
2012 was bad for Sony (NYSE:SNE). TV losses continued, the PS Vita portable gaming system tanked, PS3 sales slowed in anticipation of the pending next-generation model, tablets didn’t move and its new e-reader was a generation behind the self-lit competition. The company continued a four-year money-losing streak (down $6.4 billion in 2011), laid off 10,000 workers, sold its New York headquarters and narrowed its product focus. 2013 could be a continuation of the past few years, but there is hope. Fiscal 2012 could see it return to the black, new 4K Ultra HD TVs could turn around the price-discounting money-losing model, a new PS4 could revive console sales (boosting Vita and 4K TV sales as well) and its new tablets and new smartphones are getting good reviews.
Everyone’s watching Nokia (NYSE:NOK) to see what it does in 2013. Last year it lost its crown as the world’s leading smartphone seller (to Samsung) and bet everything on Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8. That has resulted in less-than-stellar smartphone sales. The company doesn’t make bad hardware (its Lumia smartphones are generally considered to be well made, powerful and attractive, if a little heavy), so whether Nokia decides to hedge its bets and release Android smartphones or sticks with Windows could be the difference between continued sliding market share or a resurgence. Its stock is down 77% over the past three years, so if Lumia phones take off after the rocky 2012 launch (and there’s a new, slimmer 928 model due out soon), there’s plenty of potential upside for investors.
The PC giant was on a product release roll toward the end of 2012, and while not everything did well out of the gates — Surface RT, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 being prime examples — 2013 could be the payoff year. If adoption picks up for Windows 8, Surface Pro (and possibly RT) and Office 2013, Microsoft could be in for a high revenue year, after a cycle of consumers and business customers holding off in anticipation of new product versions. There’s a new Xbox due out in 2013 and rumors that after dabbling in tablets, Microsoft may release its own smartphone.