Year to date, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is crushing it. The index is up 6.7% in just a little more than a month and a half, after finishing the previous 12 months up just 7.26%. Only one of the Dow's 30 components is in the red for the year after five closed lower in 2012. While there's still a long way to go and anything could happen, the index looks for now as if it will easily perform better in 2013 than it did in 2012.
Noteworthy 2013 moves
So far in 2013, the only underwater Dow stock is Boeing (NYSE:BA). The company came into the year with great momentum, and after a number of years of delaying new aircraft deliveries, many believed that this would finally be Boeing's time to shine. But after just six peaceful days in 2013, things started falling apart. A battery problem caused a 787 Dreamliner to catch on fire in Boston, followed by a string of issues with other 787s around the world. The FAA grounded the entire fleet over the battery mishap, and investigators have been working diligently since then to fix the problem. Yet even with all these woes, Boeing has lost a mere 0.44% this year.
As for 2012's worst Dow performer, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is the Dow's top stock so far this year, gaining 17.82% after losing 44.68% of its value in 2012. The company's financials haven't changed from 2012 to 2013, so it's likely that investors have been pouring into the stock because they think shares were taken too low in 2012. As my Fool colleague Evan Niu pointed out in "1 Chart That Proves the PC Is Dead," the whole industry has seen growth rates flatline over the past few years, which clearly gives the HP bears plenty of fuel to bash the company. But recent developments may give the bulls some ammunition to fight back.
For years, computing devices ran almost exclusively on Microsoft's Windows platform. But with the advent of tablets and smartphones, Windows' tech domination has been decreasing. Apple, of course, has its own operating system, and Google's open Android system can be found on a number of devices -- and now it'll be coming to HP. On Feb. 4, the company announced that it will make a Chromebook, essentially a dumbed-down laptop that runs on Google's operating system, rather than on Windows. The Chromebook can't perform all the functions of a traditional computer, but it can run nearly all the same applications one would find on a tablet.
The relationship between Google and HP doesn't look as though it will end with the Chromebook, either, as HP has plans for an Android tablet and possibly a smartphone. As HP moves more into the Google-Android world, the company should find more opportunities in the future.
I'm still not convinced that HP is on the right track, but the stock clearly has support from Wall Street and enough momentum to keep pushing the stock higher in 2013. For now, I'll gladly sit on the sidelines and watch the PC manufacturers fight for market share with their nearly identical products. Sure, HP may be on to something here, and if Google ever produces a PC operating system comparable to a Windows product, that may be enough to lure consumers back to HP.