The Best Stock on the Market This Week

Investors could use a calm weekend after the stressful week they just endured. This week marked the worst weekly performance for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) so far this year. However, that only tells the partial story. To get there, we had to endure an extremely bumpy ride, as markets rose or fell by more than 1% in four of this week's five trading days. And although the market closed the week down 1.6%, one stock jumped in a big and unexpected way.

The week's best
I don't often throw around positive superlatives regarding PC stalwart Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , but I need to give credit where credit's due. HP absolutely trounced the market this week, rising an astounding 6.3%. Didn't see that one coming, folks? That makes two of us.

A surprisingly robust report of first-quarter PC growth by research firm Gartner largely drove HP's pop this week. For the quarter, personal computer shipments totaled 89 million units, which equates to a solid 1.9% growth over the first quarter of 2011. And perhaps more encouragingly, HP also expanded its market share in this mature industry, growing its market share by 30 basis points to 17.2%. And while this certainly does seem encouraging for the iconic tech company, I don't think it changes HP's less-than-rosy prospects for the future.

A better way forward
In technology, we think about trends a lot, and unfortunately, HP's bread-and-butter businesses remain largely centered on printers and PCs, two markets that should grow increasingly obsolete with the rise of smartphones and tablets. Contrast the growth figures that caused HP's jump, a pretty paltry 1.9% increase, versus the robust growth we see in the tablet market. For the year, global tablet shipments are expected to grow at more than a 60% clip. This is where we see companies such as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , and Google absolutely eating HP's launch. Apple and Amazon both grabbed impressive early leads in their respective areas of the young tablet market, while HP's PlayBook gained effectively zero presence.

Worse yet, HP largely missed the boat in smartphones as well. Two years ago it spent $1.2 billion to acquire handset maker Palm and its WebOS operating system. However, two years later, HP has nothing to show for it. It made its WebOS an open-source operating system to try to encourage developer interest, but it's still a non-factor. To me, the company in many ways mirrors Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) , although in slightly less dire straits. Both companies have no credible products that address where consumer technology is headed, and their share prices reflect exactly that. Over the past year, each company has seen its stock price slide substantially, with HP falling just under 40% and RIMM plummeting a depressing 75%.

So while HP's one-week gain does look great on its surface, I'm still a long-term skeptic. Companies that have their products positioned well to compete in our mobile future are the ones tech investors should focus their research efforts. Fortunately, the Fool has identified one compelling component play it thinks has room to run. We detail one great way to play the smartphone revolution in a free research report for our readers, so access your free copy today.

Andrew Tonner held no financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article at the time of publication. You can follow him on Twitter at @Andrew Tonner. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com, Google, and  and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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