5 More Home-Run Tech Stocks

Welcome to Week 4 of the Big Idea Portfolio. This time, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) blew away estimates as Riverbed Technology (Nasdaq: RVBD  ) faltered. Details below, but first let's dig into the numbers:

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Apple $422.46 $444.63 5.2%
Google $650.09 $568.10 (12.6%)
Rackspace Hosting $41.65 $42.98 3.2%
Riverbed Technology $25.95 $29.92 15.3%
Salesforce.com $100.93 $116.22 15.1%
AVERAGE RETURN -- -- 5.24%
S&P 500 SPDR $127.71 $131.88 3.27%
DIFFERENCE -- -- 1.97

Source: Yahoo! Finance.
*Tracking began at market close on Jan. 6, 2012.
**Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

Once more, the numbers above don't fully reflect what happened during the week. A near 20% slide in shares of Riverbed Technology wasn't factored in because the sell-off occurred after Thursday's close. Had it been included, I'd be trailing by more than 2 percentage points in this contest.

What happened? Investors fear Riverbed's growth is slowing. Management forecasted $183 million to $187 million in first-quarter 2012 revenue -- a 12% improvement on the low end -- versus $197 million for the Street consensus. Four consecutive quarters of decelerating revenue growth before the report may be fueling fears.

Nonetheless, I remain cautiously optimistic. New versions of Riverbed's Steelhead appliance for fast delivery of data over wide-area networks are due this year, and the Whitewater product for optimizing storage and archiving is only in the early stages of becoming what could be another game-changing addition to the product family.

Skeptics might disagree with me about Riverbed's positioning, but there's no arguing the immensity of Apple's blowout quarter. The Mac maker destroyed targets in reporting results after the close on Tuesday as both iPhone and iPad sales more than doubled from last year's first quarter.

Huge sales and profit gains flowed into Apple's coffers as total cash and investments -- including long-term securities -- ballooned to more than $97 billion. Ninety. Seven. Billion. For every share held, Apple now has more than $100 in mostly liquid assets. Entire nations yearn to be this rich.

The week that was
Overall, stocks had a mixed week, closing off less than 1% Friday to add a somber note to an otherwise upbeat week that saw the Federal Reserve commit to keeping interest rates low as some of the top tech names -- (cough) Apple (cough) -- put up huge earnings numbers.

The economy, too, is growing, but not at the rate analysts and economists had hoped for. New data shows U.S. gross domestic product grew 2.8% in the fourth quarter, below the 3.2% clip pros polled by Briefing.com were expecting, CNN reported yesterday.

But if economists were disappointed, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) shareholders were depressed. Company insider Thorsten Heins replaced founding co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis last Sunday and promptly declared that drastic changes to business weren't necessary. Investors greeted RIM's new ostrich-in-chief with an 11% sell-off over the subsequent two days.

In better news, Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) scorched its skeptics by adding more than 200,000 net new subscribers and blowing away fourth-quarter forecasts in reporting results on Wednesday afternoon. Revenue jumped 47% to $876 million, resulting in $0.76 a share of profit. Analysts were expecting a more meager $0.54 on $857 million in sales. The stock has rallied 30% in the two days since the report.

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:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple, Google, Netflix, Rackspace Hosting, Riverbed Technology, and salesforce.com at the time of publication. Check out Tim's Web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Netflix, Apple, Riverbed Technology, Rackspace Hosting, Google, and salesforce.com, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, writing covered calls in Riverbed Technology, and shorting salesforce.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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