These Stocks Stopped the Presses

You saw the headlines. You know your stock price made a big move -- up or down. But what does that portend for your investment's future? If there's not a fundamental basis for a stock's run higher or its trip to the cellar was fueled by transient, panic-driven selling, those gains and losses might not hold -- and therein lies the potential for investors to profit.

So this week we're looking at two stocks that bolted higher: Complete Genomics (NAS: GNOM) , an up-and-coming genomics and DNA sequencing technology specialist that roared ahead 38%, and biofuels innovator Solazyme (NAS: SZYM) , which gained 22% on the week. And to prove not all is rainbows and unicorns, we'll check out sound-systems seller DTS (NAS: DTSI) , which received a 29% goring after reporting some tin-ear earnings guidance.

But you can't follow the momentum crowd blindly, which is why we look at what may have been behind those moves and we'll even take into consideration what some of the sharpest investors think about their prospects going forward. Event-driven moves, coupled with the collective wisdom of our 180,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS investing community, might help you discover whether your stock's latest exploits are a short-term hiccup -- or the start of a much bigger trend.

In the proper sequence

We've been through similar spikes in share price for Complete Genomics, but two months ago there was no news to explain the rally, so I figured it would fall back to earth and I rated it to underperform the market on CAPS.

That bet was working out for me until last week, when the gene sequencer unveiled a new technology to improve the accuracy of DNA sequencing while reducing the amount of actual DNA needed to perform such tests. The stock shot up 43% in one day. Complete Genomics will now be able to effectively compete against larger rivals such as Illumina and Life Technologies. They've been hurting since the National Institutes for Health cut back R&D funding (Illumina is down 41% over the past year; Life is off 11%).

A Wall Street Journal story said the price of whole-genome sequencing is rapidly declining and the "$1,000 genome" is in sight. Complete Genomics said its new technology will bring the cost down to a range of $5,000 to $10,000, with lower prices given for volume. I've closed out my CAPS pick for the tiny tech company, realizing now someone must have had some insight into the good news soon to come out.

No news not good news
As much as I and other Foolish analysts might dismiss the long-term viability of biofuels, Solazyme is plowing ahead. It's building an algae-based oil production facility in Brazil with Bunge, commissioned an Illinois plant, and is enjoying analyst support for its efforts. ThinkEquity, UBS, and Goldman Sachs all initiated coverage with buy ratings on the stock.

Of course, it's a long way from building plants to being commercially viable, and biofuels have thus far proved that they're not up to the task of being competitive with oil on the basis of cost and scale. Indeed, despite industry peer Amyris' (NAS: AMRS) recent success using a sugarcane-based jet fuel, we can probably expect it, Solazyme, and KiOR to all tap the public markets again to keep themselves afloat and functioning -- which is why not every analyst thinks Solazyme is ready to gas up. The folks at Raymond James downgraded the stock, though even there it hedged its bets by rating it a "market perform."

Of course, even Solazyme bulls like lanceim59 keep downplaying the biofuels link, pointing to its line of cosmetics and neutraceuticals. For me, if its adherents think it will do better going up against Estee Lauder than ExxonMobil, then there's not much investment thesis here to hang your hat on, and I'll be maintaining my underperform rating on CAPS.

Singing the blues
The death of the DVD player has been foretold for some time and has even served as a drag on sound specialist Dolby Labs (NYS: DLB) , whose codecs dominate the playback device. While PC sales helped extend the life of the format, as DVD-less tablets cannibalize PC sales, it certainly seems the end is nearer than ever.

Unfortunately, that means Blu-ray players also have a limited shelf life, and DTS, the dominating force in Blu-ray -- according to Nielsen, 86% of the top 100 Blu-ray titles sold in 2011 were encoded with DTS technology -- will live and die with its proliferation or contraction. It said that consumers were reining in their spending on electronic products, particularly Blu-ray players, and revenues for the second quarter will fall short of even normal seasonality.

Because Dolby is a far more broadly grounded company than DTS, I've owned shares of the former rather than the latter and will continue to do so. Its low one-star rating on CAPS also suggests that investors think there are much better places for your money. But you can give your thoughts on the longevity of DVDs and Blu-ray players in the comments box below.

Read all about it!
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Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Dolby Laboratories, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Solazyme and ExxonMobil. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Goldman Sachs, Dolby Laboratories, and Illumina. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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