The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 48 points yesterday and ended the session at 14,613, within striking distance again of its all-time high, as Alcoa kicked off the official start of the earnings season and beat analyst expectations. Despite weaker revenues, profits surged 59%, but with the aluminum sector still uncertain, whether the progress signals a turnaround still to come remains to be seen.
The two following stocks did better than either the Dow or the aluminum producer, both rising by double-digit percentages, but you should still 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.
Going in reverse
Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) apparently is getting a big vote of confidence from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) after Bloomberg reported that it will use the chipmaker's processors in its next generation of Xbox game consoles. That would be a huge deal, considering AMD's chips will also be appearing in Sony's new PlayStation console.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) had previously provided the chip architecture for the Xbox, so this land grab comes at a crucial juncture for the chipmakers. The PC is dying a slow, painful death, and despite the weakness in the video-game market as developers move on to mobile platforms, the console remains an important growth outlet and AMD's new apparent dominance breathes new life into it.
One hitch, however, as TechCrunch notes, is that the new architecture probably renders Xbox 360 games unusable on the new console. Although that could spur a new round of game and console buying, it also might create significant backlash, as backwards compatibility is always a sought-after feature. Regardless, AMD will be savoring this finger in the eye to its chief rival for some time to come.
Hanging up on mobile growth
If there's been one stock suffering from a bout of manic investor behavior, it's Internet security specialist VirnetX Holdings (NYSEMKT:VHC), which has found its stock bouncing all over the market. Following a patent infringement win over Apple late last year, shares soared, only to crash miserably after losing a similar case to Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), with its shares losing nearly a quarter their value. It was as if all the wheels had fallen off the gravy train it was riding to collecting royalties on its wireless patents.
It at least got a bit of a bounce higher yesterday, after it said it filed an update to specifications in the 3GPP LTE, SAE project that it says are or may become essential with an additional specification. It has now identified 18 specifications or developing specifications in the project. Apparently, investors see this as an opportunity to regain some of its lost momentum and it will be able to strengthen the club it's been using to beat the wireless crowd.
The 3GPP LTE, SAE project is the wireless industry's next-generation communications that seeks to improve the service provisioning and reduce user and operators cost. VirnetX has contended that it owns most of the critical patents related to security across the spectrum, and it has gone after most of the top names in the industry to enforce them. Until the recent decision with Cisco, VirtnetX had an unbroken string of wins, but that was clouded in the aftermath of the loss. In fact, many expect Apple to go back and appeal its loss as a result.
With new, updated claims, however, perhaps VirnetX is trying to prevent future losses and minimize the chance others will want to revisit their cases as well.