Welcome back to Week 2 of the Big Idea Portfolio. Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD ) and salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM ) led the way for me as investors bought on new evidence of increased business momentum. Details below, but first let's dig into the numbers:
|Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL )
|S&P 500 SPDR
Source: Yahoo! Finance.
* Tracking began at market close on Jan. 6, 2012.
** Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.
One week doesn't make a trend, so let's just call this contest even for now. Yet I'm encouraged by what I'm already seeing from my picks. Riverbed purchased the intellectual property of Israeli competitor Expand Networks out of bankruptcy without assuming any new liabilities. It's a smart move that should further enhance Riverbed's much-appreciated technical advantages in speeding content delivery over private networks.
Over at salesforce.com, CEO Marc Benioff took to Twitter to solve a customer problem personally. The effort has since won loyalty "for life" and demonstrates Benioff's commitment to transforming salesforce.com into the sort of "social enterprise" that he talked up during a September conference with developers, customers, and partners.
The week that was
Successful bond auctions in Italy and Spain -- a sign of better days for beleaguered Europe -- helped spur a nice rally in equities this week that ended only when U.S. officials reported weaker-than-expected retail sales and discouraging jobless data. The implication? We've yet to recover fully as a global economy. Yale economist Robert Shiller says that should have officials thinking about injecting more stimulus into the system. Bond guru Bill Gross isn't so sure it would help.
Even so, my Foolish colleague Morgan Housel offers reason for optimism. Decades of research show that booms follow busts, and in the case of the stock market, cycles tend to run 15 years long. Thus, the Lost Decade puts us that much closer to a sustained rally in equity prices. Or so it would seem.
Trouble is, stocks don't rise without catalysts, and unfortunately for tech investors, the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas didn't provide many. Instead, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) rehashed old themes. CEO Steve Ballmer talked up Windows 8 tablets without anything to show while touting new Windows Phone models from HTC and Nokia.
Meanwhile, Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) touted a new relationship with Lenovo for putting its chips in smart devices. A nice win to be sure, but also probably too late to seriously challenge ARM Holdings, whose chip designs are used by all the largest producers of multi-core mobile chipsets and as a result power the world's most popular handheld geekery -- including the iPhone, iPad, and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
As Vegas served a cold buffet of leftover tech news, China made headlines for an egg-throwing incident at Apple's Beijing store. People who had lined up to purchase the newly available iPhone 4S for between $792 and $1,077 apiece were turned away as crowds became unruly. Some pelted store windows with raw eggs as police moved in. This is today's Apple: making products so desirable they incite spurned consumers to riot.
Yahoo! Finance reports that the incident has led Apple to stop retail sales of the 4S in the country for now, though consumers who want to buy will still be able to order online or though carrier partner China Unicom.
There's your checkup. See you back here next weekend for more tech-stock talk. In the meantime, you can check out the Fool's latest special report -- "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich" -- and add the Big Idea portfolio stocks to your Foolish watchlist for ongoing, up-to-the-minute coverage. Both the report and the watchlist as 100% free to use: