Shares of hard-drive giant Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX) rose 35% higher in the first half of 2018, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. It's been a bumpy ride, with most of the action taking place in the first three months of the new year.
Share prices jumped 7% higher in early January on rumors that Seagate had made a large investment in the company behind the Ripple cryptocurrency. That speculation turned out to be on target, and Seagate kept the fires burning with a strong second-quarter report later that month. All told, Seagate investors enjoyed a 32% return in January alone.
The next earnings report was less impressive, causing Seagate shares to plunge 8% on May 1. But that move largely disappears from a longer-term perspective, lost in a sea of jagged gains and drops that work out to a pretty smooth and stable moving average overall.
The company is leaning heavily on its enterprise-grade products, which bundle very large storage capacities with long warranty periods and reasonably low prices. Super-fast solid-state storage devices are stealing a lot of market share from these old-school packs of spinning magnetic disks, but there's still a place for the reliability and lower prices per gigabyte that Seagate's favorite products can offer.
I'm not sure that this is a sustainable idea for the long term since solid-state memory chips are becoming cheaper and cheaper. Eventually, Seagate must come up with a better long-haul strategy. I would much rather own archrival Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) and its more future-proof business model until Seagate gets its solid-state future sorted out.