The Most Surprising Tech Stocks of 2012

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Austin Smith: All right, guys, we're here in The Motley Fool Dojo, doing an After-Hours Stock chat.

I want to throw a question your way and see which stocks really surprised you guys in the tech space in 2012. I know you guys both cover the sector. What stocks really surprised you with their outperformance?

Eric Bleeker: Andrew, do you want to go first?

Andrew Tonner: I can say at least that, over the last several months, a couple of stocks that people left for dead -- Nokia  and Research In Motion -- have both been some of the top performers in the sector over the last three months.

They're at least up 75%, almost approaching a double from these companies that people largely had given up on. I think, in the case of Research In Motion at least, now you're seeing the conclusion of the storyline where they had no products to ship because we know BB10 will be coming out on Jan. 30, and then they'll be launching a series of products in the following months.

They keep kicking this product launch down the line and down the line; I think that was a drag on the stock. That's not to say they're going to make money any time soon, but at least there's a timeline for that now. Investors have something they can anchor their expectation on. I think that's been a real boost.

The second thing I think has turned around the stock as well has been a little bit of consistency coming from management. They got rid of the two-CEO structure now, there's some clear leadership.

Say what you will about Thorsten Heins, he's largely still unproven. He hasn't really shipped a flagship product that he can really hang his hat on, but again, now there's some level of consistency, and at least investors know what to expect here.

That being said, I'm definitely not bullish on this continuing. I think Apple  and Google are going to still retain their spots at the top of both the tablet and smartphone space, but you want to talk about surprising, those are two stocks I wouldn't have said would be some of the strongest performers going into the end of the year.

Austin: Yeah, I definitely did not see that one coming.

Eric: Not a lot of us did.

Austin: What about you, Eric?

Eric: I think we really need to look at the death and rebirth of social media as a real interesting storyline this year. It's a tangent storyline to mobile in general. We saw Facebook immediately come down after its IPO. It was the story of the year; it was getting absolutely crushed, and now people are rebuying on mobile.

Not only that, but a company like LinkedIn  -- I love LinkedIn, I love its recurring revenue model -- I think it is incredibly disruptive to recruiting itself. I think investors out there who aren't buying in should take a second look, but they didn't collapse at all during the entire Facebook thing, and they're now sitting very pretty.

You've got a company that, by all means, I was expecting to crash with the rest of social media stocks, and LinkedIn soaring, and now you've got Facebook with this negativity cycle, making a comeback. I think it's a really fascinating storyline across the year.

Whether they can continue that mobile storyline in 2013 now becomes a dominant mobile theme across the next year for investors to watch.

Austin: Definitely.

Eric: What about you?

Austin: I don't have one.

Eric: You don't have one at all?

Austin: No. [laughs]

Eric: That was interesting.

Austin: I already did three videos on it, so I can't do any more.

Andrew: I would note too, though, that we are seeing a lot of the companies are kind of tied to the same sector, the Web 2.0 companies as well, that are trading in lockstep with Facebook -- the Zyngas and Groupons -- have also been strong performers the last several months as well; probably something investors didn't really see coming their way.

The article The Most Surprising Tech Stocks of 2012 originally appeared on

Andrew Tonner owns shares of Apple. Austin Smith owns shares of Apple and Google. Eric Bleeker owns no shares of the companies mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn and has the following options: long JAN 2014 $20.00 calls on Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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