Whoa! These 3 Stocks Just Beat the Dow

Acting as if what's happening in Cyprus doesn't matter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged ahead 112 points to set yet another all-time high record of 14,559 as data came out indicating the U.S. economy at least was looking better. Durable goods orders advanced, it was said, and housing prices are on the move higher again, so it's OK to ignore the "template" for bailing out other European countries that likely will cause a run on other nation's banks.

The three stocks below seem to have had their own template for gaining ground well in excess of the Dow, though you should resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you. Smart investors won't celebrate until they know why their stock surged, because without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks could just as quickly make the return trip down.

Company

% Gain

GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQOTH: GTATQ  )

12.8%

Quicksilver Resources (NYSE: KWK  )

9.5%

RF Micro Devices (NASDAQ: RFMD  )

6.9%

Cracked lens
Gorilla Glass from Corning (NYSE: GLW  ) may be the, uh, 800-pound gorilla when it comes to protective glass for your smartphone, but manufacturers are looking hard at sapphire as an alternative and the first hints at a crack in the glass wall could be what sent shares of GT Advanced Technologies soaring yesterday.

While Corning notes that the premier tough-as-nails glass is featured on some 1.2 billion devices from 33 brands across 900 different products, Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) may be the first to go a different route and release a sapphire display on its upcoming Motorola X Phone. Rumors were swirling that the diamond-like material may be ready for prime time and is part of the specs for the new phone, but while it's likely an eventuality, I'd caution investors to check their enthusiasm for the moment.

Where sapphire is as tough as diamonds, it also carries a 20-carat price tag, too. As the Fool's Evan Niu recently noted, Gorilla Glass goes for around $3 for a piece of glass the size of a smartphone screen; sapphire costs $30. Until the price is more competitive, any appearance by the new material is going to be limited. It took years for LED lights to approach parity with compact fluorescent bulbs (and they're still not quite there), so it's probably going to be a few more years before sapphire can be as ubiquitous as Gorilla Glass.

Financial gymnastics
A little bit of accounting rejiggering helped oil and gas player Quicksilver Resources post better quarterly results than it thought it did, leading to a bounce in its stock. But the adjustments didn't seem to move the needle all that much, as it still had some pretty massive losses for the year and this bit of euphoria might be much ado about nothing.

Compared to the heads-up look Quicksilver provided on Feb. 25, the adjustments it made trickled down throughout the financial statements. Certain hedging activities -- because they didn't qualify for hedge accounting -- moved the derivative gains and losses from deferred to recognized. So while it cut its fourth-quarter loss in half from $1.1 billion to $548 million, for the full year Quicksilver still lost $2.35 billion, or $13.83 per share, compared to previous calculations showing it lost $2.49 billion, or $14.61 per share.

Admittedly, it's a move in the right direction, but hardly worth the exuberance investors exhibited yesterday.

Striking back
Having weaned itself off Nokia as the primary source of revenues, RF Micro Devices positioned itself to better capitalize on the popularity of Samsung's Galaxy S 4, which uses more of its chips. To me that sounds like it's traded one taskmaster for another, but an analyst at Oppenheimer says it sways the risk-reward ratio in RF's favor, and he upgraded the stock to outperform.

It's commendable that RF Micro has reduced its reliance on Nokia from more than 50% of revenues to around 5%, but the switch could just as easily have been caused by the collapse of Nokia's business as any conscious decision made by the chip maker. And as other suppliers have found out the hard way, riding the tailcoat of a Samsung or an Apple isn't necessarily a path to riches.

The upgrade may reflect some near-term opportunities, but investors should be wary that RF is setting itself up for the same problems it got into last time.

Whoa, Nelly!
With the explosive growth of smartphones worldwide, many investors thought they would ride Corning's dominant cover glass to massive investment returns. That hasn't played out yet, as mobile growth has failed to offset declines in the company's core business. In this premium research report on Corning, our analyst walks through the business, as well as the key opportunities and risks facing it today. Click here to claim your copy.



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Related Tickers

11/26/2014 3:59 PM
GTATQ $0.44 Up +0.02 +5.93%
GT Advanced Techno… CAPS Rating: ***
KWK $0.54 Down -0.05 -9.14%
Quicksilver Resour… CAPS Rating: ***
RFMD $14.89 Up +0.15 +0.98%
RF Micro Devices,… CAPS Rating: ***
GLW $21.07 Up +0.05 +0.24%
Corning CAPS Rating: *****
GOOGL $547.73 Down -1.50 -0.27%
Google (A shares) CAPS Rating: ****

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