Philadelphia Phillies pitcher George McQuillan took the mound on a day that I doubt he knew would be historic. The date was Sept. 6, 1909. It was the bottom of the 4th when Brooklyn Superbas catcher Bill Bergen stepped up to the plate. As the pitch sped towards him, Bergen took a mighty swing. There was a crack at the bat as the ball soared up, up, and over the fence. It would be the final home run of a record setting career from Bergen.
Many investors love home run products. The gizmo, the innovation, or the compound that steals the show at the press conferences, destroys the competition with market share, and rakes in the profits are truly spectacular. But the adrenaline rush that a home run gives can also be an investor trap.
Bill Bergen is such a good example for us. He did something that very few people have ever actually done: hit a home run in a major league baseball game. He played over 11 years, in 947 games, and had over 3,000 at bat attempts. And on that fateful day in September of 1909 he hit a home run. That home run was the second (and final) home run from the worst career batting average in MLB history (0.170).
Pretty much anyone who plays the game will eventually hit a home run. But a good career is much more desirable than a single home run.
Some Tech Home Runs
Nowhere is this principle more easily seen than in the tech sector due to the rapid rate of technological advances. Consider that the top supercomputer from 2009 has now been declared obsolete. If a tech product can go from the greatest thing man has ever made to obsolete in just just 4 years, then what about the common computer, tablet, or phone? Companies are forced to constantly release new products in an effort to keep up with both available technology and consumer needs.
Every year in Vegas the Consumer Electronics Association gives an opportunity for companies to flex their muscles and display their top new tech products. This event really gets the crowd juiced. Here are the top three from this past January according to TechRadar.com:
- Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA)’s Project Shield
- QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon 800
- Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) Xperia Z
Allow me to throw in one more product that has also been creating a lot of buzz. The Blackberry Z10 is being called many things, most impressively “the iPhone killer.”
Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)‘s Blackberry Z10 and Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE)‘s Xperia Z have more in common than just the letter “z.” These represent two smartphones with the common goal of taking down Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s iPhone. Both of these smartphones also represent the best their companies currently have to offer. Both have been received well by many critics. By many standards, both of these phones are home run product offerings.
Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) is on to something truly engaging with their Project Shield. There are several reasons consumers are reluctant to completely give up their personal computers in favor of tablets. One of those reasons is PC games. Serious gamers haven’t had a mobile alternative…until now. Project Shield now puts the power of PC gaming in the palm of your hand.
QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) is generating a lot of talk with their Snapdragon 800. This processor, in layman terms, run things faster, improves graphics, improves battery life…you know, all those things processors are supposed to do. This is just the latest in a long line of winning processors from QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM).
So enough with the products, what about the companies?
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and in a similar manner company trends aren’t determined in a product offering.
Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) has been a company that has been consistently trending downwards. Along the way there has been a good quarter here, and a Xperia Z there, but nothing in the big picture that would make an investor excited. If the Xperia has you fired up as an investor, you might want to cool it just a tad. The company’s track record in terms of growth just isn’t all that great.