3 Tech Stocks That Soared This Week

The markets had a steady but uninspiring week, shortened by the long Memorial Day weekend. The S&P 500 gained just 1.2% over these four days. But a handful of stocks soared. These three tech tickers saw their shares gain 10% or more:

Company

4-Day Gain

CAPS Score (out of 5)

OmniVision Technologies (NASDAQ: OVTI  )

15.3%

****

Palo Alto Networks (NYSE: PANW  )

11.8%

***

Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO  )

10.4%

**

OmniVision set fresh multiyear highs on Friday following a huge fourth-quarter report paired with equally impressive forward guidance.

Source: OmniVision.

The designer of leading-edge digital camera sensors shocked analysts with earnings 48% above estimates and a 9% positive revenue surprise. For the next quarter, OmniVision set the midpoint of earnings guidance just above the current analyst view, while revenue should come in about 25% above Street projections.

Shares surged 19% higher in after-hours trading, then settled down to a slightly more modest 12% single-day gain by the end of the Friday session.

By then, OmniVision CEO Shaw Hong had explained that the business is becoming more diversified and less prone to wild swings when a single large customer designs a camera-equipped gadget. Smartphones are still very important, but security cameras and automotive solutions are picking up the slack in a big way.

The stock is trading at prices not seen since summer 2011, when rumors of a huge smartphone contract turned out to be false. The business has been stop-and-go ever since, but this report removed all kinds of speed bumps in one fell swoop.

Margins are improving. Unit volumes are on the upswing. The company is tapping into smartphone adoption in China, and looks forward to mandated rearview automobile cameras in 2016.

This was a heartwarming report for longtime OmniVision owners like yours truly, and the company has earned its moment in the sun.

Counterintuitive move of the week: Pay $175 million, see shares rise
Palo Alto Networks also took the earnings-driven route to a strong week.

The network security expert saw third-quarter sales rise 49% year over year while earnings took a 57% upward leap. Both numbers edged out analyst targets, thanks to strong demand for cloud-based security platforms.

Source: Palo Alto Networks.

Strong quarterly reports never hurt, but straight-up earnings weren't the biggest engine behind this share-price jump.

As part of the same report, Palo Alto also announced the settlement of a long-running patent infringement spat with Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR  ) . Juniper sued Palo Alto in 2011, alleging that the smaller company's founders brought crucial technologies over from their time at Juniper. The suit careened into a mistrial verdict in March 2014, but now the whole affair has been settled.

Palo Alto came out on the losing end, sending a one-time payment of $175 million to Juniper in a mix of cash, stock, and warrants. But this was a bet-the-farm trial, and Palo Alto will survive to fight another day. As such, even a costly outcome can be seen as a win in many ways.

If nothing else, the Sword of Damocles that used to hang over the business turned out to be just a dagger -- sharp but not deadly. Uncertainty is never a good thing, and now it's gone. The two companies have agreed not to sue one another over patents for the next eight years, and they're taking cross-licenses to each others' patent portfolios.

Investors certainly saw the settlement as a victory, and shares opened more than 12% higher the next morning. Sound weird when you consider who's paying who $175 million, but it all makes sense in a bigger perspective.

Gogo was down, but not out
Finally, airplane Wi-Fi provider Gogo continued a winning streak that started with a 6% earnings-related jump two weeks ago and was followed by a 20% gain last week.

The company didn't have any major news to share this week, but the momentum from the last two weeks carried over to continue lifting shares.

Source: Gogo.

But this stock is nowhere near 52-week or multiyear highs. The current bounce is more like a recovery from a recent injury.

In April, telecom giant AT&T (NYSE: T  ) announced that it's going head-to-head with Gogo in the airborne networking market. Powered by AT&T's ground-based 4G LTE network, the airplane service should launch next year and give airlines an alternative to Gogo's hitherto unique services.

Gogo's stock is just about back to the levels it commanded before the AT&T-driven 38% plunge. Investors are coming to terms with the new rival, and for good reason: It'll take time for AT&T to gain significant share in the market that Gogo created and dominates. And ground-based solutions make sense for both Gogo and AT&T on domestic flights, but AT&T can't match Gogo's satellite-based service where cell towers are scarce. For trans-Atlantic flights or hops across ultrarural areas, Gogo is still the only provider that matters.

It'll be interesting to see how AT&T plans to solve these challenges, and how Gogo fights back. The only sure winner at this point is the air-traveling consumer, who gets wider access to better Internet services. And both providers have an incentive to push the envelope further.

Competition is a beautiful thing, even if it hurts sometimes.

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