Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015

Obamacare is bringing sweeping changes to the health insurance industry next year. With a number of reforms on the cusp of implementation, insurance’s leading companies head into a murky future — and shareholders still are left wondering how the brave new world of health care will affect their portfolios.

With all the question marks, however, at least one major insurance staple received some good news earlier this week. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Medicare Advantage enrollees — once thought to decrease in the near future — will rise by 50% between today and 2023, a boon for major Medicare insurers looking to expand their enrollment numbers. What does this mean for your portfolio, and what stocks are best positioned to capitalize on the good news? Motley Fool contributor Dan Carroll and health care analyst Max Macaluso discuss what you need to know below.

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Fusion-io Inc (FIO)

Fusion-io Inc (Fusion) is a provider of datacenter solutions that accelerate databases, virtualization, cloud computing, big data, and the applications that help drive business from the smallest e-tailers to some of the largest data centers, social media leaders, and Fortune Global 500 businesses. The Company’s integrated hardware and software platform enables the decentralization of data from legacy architectures and specialized hardware. The Company sells its solutions through a global direct sales force, original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, including Cisco, Dell, HP, and IBM, and other channel partners. In August 2011, the Company acquired IO Turbine, Inc.,. Effective March 18, 2013, the Company acquired ID7.

Fusion-io’s ioMemory hardware is a sub-system connecting a large array of industry-standard NAND Flash memory through the Company’s data-path controller and its virtual storage layer, or VSL, software to create a high capacity memory tier that na tively attaches to a server’s PCI-Express peripheral bus (PCIe).

The Company’s portfolio of storage memory products incorporates the Company’s ioMemory hardware combined with its virtual storage layer (VSL) and caching software into its family of ioDrive, ioFX, and ioCache enterprise grade products. The Company’s ioDrive products work in conjunction with the Company’s directCache data-tiering software, ioTurbine virtualization software, ioSphere management system, and ION Data Accelerator software. The Company’s latest ioDrive, ioFX, and ioCache product families are a line of PCIe standard form-factor storage memory platforms that combine one or more ioMemory sub-systems with the Company’s VSL software.

The Company’s directCache software extends the Company’s ioMemory based platforms and permits interoperability with traditional direct-attached, network-attached, storage area network attached, and appliance attached backend storage systems. The Com pany’s ioTurbine virtualization software extends the Company! ‘s ioMemory platform and permits host-based data acceleration to specifically address the demand for high-density, high-performance server, and desktop virtualization.

ioSphere is a suite of management software purpose-built for the Company’s storage memory infrastructure and designed around its application acceleration platform. ioSphere software is accessible through a graphical user interface that enables datacenter administrators to centrally configure, monitor, manage, and tune all distributed ioMemory devices throughout the datacenter. In addition, this software offers real-time, predictive, and historical reporting of ioMemory’s performance and wear.

The Company’s ION Data Accelerator software transforms server platforms into application acceleration appliances that share Fusion ioMemory across applications. ION Data Accelerator delivers Fusion-io performance on open server platforms with software-defined storage, or SDS, for applications suc h as Oracle RAC, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and SAP HANA, along with other applications where shared storage aids deployment. The Company’s original equipment manufacturer’s (OEMs), including Cisco, Dell, HP, and IBM, sell branded storage memory solutions based on the Company’s standard products as well as custom form-factor versions to fit specific applications.

The Company competes with EMC Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P, Texas Memory Systems, Oracle, Adaptec, Inc., LSI Corporation, Sandisk, Corp, IBM, CA, Inc, Nagios Enterprises, LLC., Hitachi Data, Huawei Technologies, Co., Intel Corp., LSI Corporation, Marvell Semiconductor, Inc., Micron Technology, Inc., OCZ Technology Group, Inc., Samsung Electronics, Inc., SanDisk, Corp., Seagate Technology, STEC, Inc., Toshiba Corp., and Western Digital Corp.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Fusion-io (NYSE: FIO) shares jumped 14.75% to $10.81 on stronger-than-expected quarterly results.

    Posted-In: market moversNews Intraday Update Markets Movers

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    Fusion-io (NYSE: FIO  ) will release its quarterly report on Wednesday, and investors are nervous about the expected plunge in revenue that they expect to result in the data-storage specialist’s year-ago profit turning into a loss. Yet even in the face of much larger competitors EMC (NYSE: EMC  ) and Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC  ) , many still hold out hope that Fusion-io earnings will eventually recover and help the share price gain back some of its long-term losses.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Knapp and Slover were also kind enough to provide a screen of stocks that could outperform. They started with the Russell 2000, removed the smallest 40% based on market cap (the aforementioned liquidity issues), then selected the 5% worst performers from among the 30% cheapest stocks based on book-to-price. The result is a bunch of names you never heard of, including Infinity Pharmaceuticals (INFI), Fusion-IO (FIO), Walter Energy (WLT), Hecla Mining (HL) and Molycorp (MCP).

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    Stocks on the Move: J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) is up 8.8% at $7.39 after the CEO said he still expects positive growth in third-quarter same-store sales. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is down 3.3% at $50.25 as investors weigh Facebook against the pending Twitter Inc. IPO. Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN) is up 11.1% at $2.81 on talk of a sale of the company. Fusion-io Inc. (NYSE: FIO) is up 16.1% at $11.08 after reports of insider buying.

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Logitech international SA (LOGN)

Logitech International S.A. (Logitech) is a holding company. Logitech develops and markets hardware and software products for digital navigation, music and video entertainment, gaming, social networking, audio and video communication over the Internet, video security and home-entertainment control. Logitech operates in two segments: peripherals and video conferencing. The Company’s peripherals segment includes design, manufacturing and marketing of peripherals for personal computers (PCs) and other digital platforms. Its products for the PC include mice, trackballs, keyboards, interactive gaming controllers, multimedia speakers, headsets, webcams, and lapdesks. Logitech’s Internet communications products include webcams, headsets, video communications services, and digital video security systems for a home or small business. Its digital music products include speakers, earphones, and custom in-ear monitors. On July 6, 2010, Logitech acquired all of the assets of Paradi al AS. On March 31, 2011, the Company sold its equity interest in certain 3Dconnexion subsidiaries.

3Dconnexion subsidiaries are the providers of the Company’s 3D controllers, and its intellectual property rights related to the manufacture and sale of certain 3Dconnexion products. Paradial AS provides firewall and network address translation (NAT) traversal solutions for video communications. For home entertainment systems, Logitech offers the Harmony line of advanced remote controls, Squeezebox wireless music solutions and, in the United States, a line of Logitech products for the Google TV platform. For gaming consoles, the Company offers a range of gaming controllers and microphones, as well as other accessories. Logitech’s sells its peripheral products to a network of distributors and resellers and to other equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The Company’s worldwide retail network includes wholesale distributors, consumer electronics retailers, mass mercha ndisers, specialty electronics stores, computer and telecomm! unications stores, resellers and online merchants.

The Company’s video conferencing segment includes design, manufacturing and marketing of LifeSize video conferencing products, infrastructure and services for the enterprise, public sector and other business markets. LifeSize products include high-definition (HD) video communication endpoints, HD video conferencing systems with integrated monitors, video bridges and other infrastructure software and hardware to support large scale video deployments, and services to support these products. Logitech sells its LifeSize products and services to distributors, resellers, OEMs and direct enterprise customers. Logitech conducts its business through subsidiaries in the Americas, including North and South America; Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA), and Asia Pacific, including, among other countries, China, Taiwan, Japan, India and Australia.

Pointing Devices

Logitech offers a range of computer mice, sold through retail and OEM channels. Its mice products include M215, M310 and M305 wireless mice with advanced 2.4 gigahertz wireless connection and cordless universal serial bus (USB) plug-and-forget nano-receiver; Performance Mouse MX and Anywhere Mouse MX with Logitech Darkfield Laser Tracking; Marathon Mouse 750, and Wireless Trackball M570. Logitech’s mice products also include a line of gaming mice, including the Wireless Gaming Mouse G700, with 13 precisely placed, programmable controls to perform single actions and complex macros, full-speed gaming-grade wireless, and a quick-connect charging cable. In addition, the Company sells both corded and cordless mice designed specifically for OEM customers.

Keyboards and Desktops

Logitech offers a range of corded and cordless keyboards and desktops (keyboard-and-mouse combinations). The Company’s keyboards and desktops include Wireless Solar Keyboard K750; K800 Illuminated Wireless Keybo ard; The diNovo Edge keyboard; Wireless Desktop MK320, and G! 19 Keyboa! rd for Gaming.

Audio

Logitech designs and manufactures a range of multimedia speakers, including Wireless Speaker Z515, The Laptop Z305 speaker, and The S-series line of portable iPod/MP3 docks, including the Rechargeable Speaker S715i and the Portable Speaker S135i. It also designs and manufactures The Z-623 2.1 THX certified speakers, the Z-506 5.1 Speakers, and the Z-906 5.1 Surround Sound speakers. Logitech offers a portfolio of network music systems. The Squeezebox Touch, with its 4.3-inch color touch screen, connects to existing stereo system and speakers and supports sampling rates of up to 24 bits at 96 kilohertz. The Squeezebox Radio is a compact network music player and alarm that allows to connect to home network, and access Internet radio, personal music collection or subscription services.

The Ultimate Ears product line offers a range of in-ear consumer or fit earphones for portable music enthusiasts, as well as custom stag e earphones for musicians and sound engineers. Its line of earphones include Ultimate Ears 100 and 200 value-priced earphones, with silicone ear cushions in a durable sweat-resistant design; Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10 with triple armature speakers, and The Ultimate Ears 600 featuring single armature speakers, the Ultimate Ears 600vi, and the Ultimate Ears 700 featuring dual armature speakers. Its line of Ultimate Ears Custom Stage Earphones include Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitors co-designed with Capitol Studios for professional studio engineers and producers for use during recording, mixing and mastering original music content, the UE-18 Pro featuring a six-speaker design, the UE-7 Pro for live performance and stage use, and the UE-4 Pro featuring a dual speaker design for artists and audiophiles.

Logitech offers headsets and microphones designed for applications, such as PC voice communications, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) applications and onlin e gaming. Its products in this category include the ClearCha! t PC Wire! less headset, the Wireless Headset H760, the USB Headset H530, the G35 Surround Sound Headset for gaming, the Wireless Gaming Headset G930, the USB Desktop Microphone, and the OCS certified Logitech B-530 USB Headset.

Video

Logitech’s webcam offerings include Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910, Logitech Webcam Pro 9000, Logitech HD Webcam C510 and Logitech TV Cam for use with Logitech Revue. Logitech’s webcams works with video messaging applications, and provides up to HD 720p video calling in Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Logitech Vid HD. The Logitech Alert digital video security system is a complete home or small business video security system, with software that provides motion alerts and a live view from an Internet-connected computer, smartphone, tablet or Google TV system, including Logitech Revue.

Gaming

Logitech offers a range of game controllers for PC gamers, including joysticks, steering wheels, gamepads, mice a nd keyboards, and headsets, as well as gaming products for console platforms, such as PlayStation2, PlayStation3, PSP (PlayStation Portable), Xbox, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. The Company’s gaming products include Logitech G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse; Logitech G13 advanced gameboard with a built-in LCD screen, 25 programmable keys and onboard memory; Logitech G27 Racing Wheel and Logitech G35 Surround Sound Headset.

Digital Home

The Company’s line of remotes includes Harmony One remote, Harmony 900 remote and Harmony 650. In October 2010, Logitech introduced its line of products for Google TV in the United States, including Logitech Revue and the Logitech Keyboard Controller; Logitech TV Cam and Vid HD service, and Logitech Mini Controller.

LifeSize Video Conferencing

LifeSize division offers HD video communication solutions, including HD video conferencing products, audio conference telephones, hardware infrastructure so lutions, video management software, and services to support ! video and! audio communications and help users connect to any network securely and with ease. The LifeSize product line includes Passport, LifeSize Video Center, Express Series, Team Series, Room Series and LifeSize Bridge.

The Company competes with Microsoft Corporation, Plantronics, Inc., Altec Lansing LLC, Creative Labs, Inc., Bose Corporation, Sony Corporation, Royal Philips Electronics NV, Hewlett-Packard, Intec, Razer USA Ltd., Performance Designed Products, LLC (Pelican Accessories), Mad Catz Interactive, Inc., Universal Remote Control, Inc., Universal Electronics Inc., RCA, Apple Inc., Roku, Inc., Cisco, Radvision Ltd., Vidyo, Inc. and Polycom.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By CRWE]

    Today, LOGN remains (0.00%) +0.000 at $23.25 thus far (ref. google finance Delayed: 10:11AM EDT July 25, 2013).

    Logansport Financial Corp. previously reported net earnings for the quarter ended June 30, 2013 of $462,000 or $.71 per diluted share, compared to earnings in 2012 of $427,000 or $.54 per diluted share. Year to date the company reported net earnings of $936,000 for 2013 compared to $763,000 for 2012. Diluted earnings per share for the six months ended June 30, 2013 were $1.43 compared to $.97 for the six months ended June 30, 2012. Total assets at June 30, 2013 were $165.8 million compared to total assets at December 31, 2012 of $172.9 million. Total shareholder’s equity at December 31, 2013 was $18.6 million compared to $19.0 million at June 30, 2012

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Western Digital Corp (WDC)

Western Digital Corporation (WD) is a provider of solutions for the collection, storage, management, protection and use of digital content, including audio and video. Its principal products are hard drives, which are devices that use one or more rotating magnetic disks (magnetic media) to store and allow access to data. Its hard drives are used in desktop and notebook computers, corporate and cloud computing data centers, home entertainment equipment and stand-alone consumer storage devices. In addition to hard drives, its other products include solid-state drives and home entertainment and networking products. The Company operates as the parent company of its hard drive business, Western Digital Technologies, Inc. Effective March 8, 2012, the Company acquired Viviti Technologies Ltd. In May 2012, the Company completed the divestiture of certain 3.5-inch hard drive assets to Toshiba Corporation. As part of its deal with Toshiba, WD also completed its purchase of Toshiba St orage Device (Thailand) Company Limited (TSDT), which manufactured hard drives.

The Company offers a line of storage devices. Its hard drives include 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch form factors, capacities ranging from 80 gigabytes to three terabytes, nominal rotation speeds up to 10,000 revolutions per minute, and interfaces, such as Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) and Serial Attached SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) (SAS). In addition, the Company offers a family of hard drives specifically designed to consume less power than standard drives, utilizing its WD GreenPower Technology. Its solid-state drives include 2.5-inch and Compact Flash form factors, capacities ranging from 1 gigabyte to 256 gigabytes, and interfaces, such as SATA and PATA.

Client Compute Storage Products

Client compute consists of hard drives and solid-state drives for desktop and mobile personal computers (PC’s). During the fiscal year ended July 1 , 2011 (fiscal 2011), it shipped 151 million hard drive clie! nt compute unit. Its client compute storage products include WD Caviar, WD Scorpio and WD Silicon Edge. WD Caviar family of hard drives is designed for use in desktop PCs. WD Scorpio family of hard drives is designed for use in mobile PCs. WD Silicon Edge family of solid-state drives is designed for both read-intensive client/consumer applications and write-intensive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) applications.

Client Non-Compute Storage Products

Client non-compute consists of branded products and consumer electronics products. Its hard drive client non-compute unit shipments were 46 million, during fiscal 2011.

Branded Products

Branded products consists of hard drives embedded into WD-branded external storage appliances with capacities ranging from 250 gigabytes to 8 terabytes and using interfaces, such as Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0, USB 3.0, external SATA, FireWire and Ethernet network connections. Cert ain branded products models include software that assists customers with back up, remote access and management of digital content. Branded products also include its home entertainment and networking products. Its branded products include My Book and WD Elements Desktop family of storage appliances. My Passport and WD Elements Portable family of storage appliances include WD ShareSpace, WD TV and WD Livewire.

My Book and WD Elements Desktop family of storage appliances are designed to add external capacity to desktops and digital video recorders (DVRs), allow for the transfer and storage of videos directly from certain camcorders, and connect to networks to simplify storage for consumers. My Passport and WD Elements Portable family of storage appliances are designed for external portability weighing less than one-half of a pound and allow for the transfer and storage of videos directly from certain camcorders. WD ShareSpace is a network-attached storage system de signed for home office or small office applications. WD TV m! edia play! ers connect to a user’s television or home theater system and play digital movies, music and photos from an integrated hard drive, network hard drives, any of its WD-branded external hard drives, other USB mass storage devices or content services accessed over the Internet. WD Livewire, which enables consumers to use their existing electrical outlets to extend Internet connections throughout the home.

Consumer Electronics Products

WD AV family of hard drives is designed for use in products, such as DVRs and audio and video applications. WD AV drives deliver the characteristics CE manufacturers.

Enterprise Storage Products

Enterprise consists of hard drives for traditional enterprise and nearline storage applications, as well as solid-state drives for embedded applications. Its hard drive enterprise unit shipments were 10 million, for fiscal 2011. Its enterprise storage products include WD S25 hard drive, WD VelociRaptor, WD RE and WD SiliconDrive. WD S25 hard drive is designed for mission-critical enterprise server and storage applications, such as data centers and data arrays. WD VelociRaptor hard drive is designed for enterprise server and storage applications. This hard drive is also used in the high-end desktop PC market for applications including gaming, servers and advanced computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) systems. WD RE family of hard drives is designed for nearline storage enterprise applications. WD SiliconDrive family of solid-state drives features fast read/write speeds in high capacities and is designed for embedded system OEM applications.

The Company competes with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, Intel Corporation, Micron Technology, Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Seagate Technology, STEC, Inc. and Toshiba Corporation.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Divine]

    Stocks headed into the weekend on a strong note, as all three major indices ended higher and the Dow finished at an all-time closing high. Although Wall Street polished off the week with gains, there wasn’t an overwhelming, undeniable sense of bullishness; in fact, just less than 54% of stocks managed to advance. Not included in that 54% were today’s three most miserable performers: NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA  ) , Consolidated Edison (NYSE: ED  ) , and Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC  ) , each of which ended near the bottom of the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) on Friday. The S&P, for its part, tacked on two points, or 0.2%, to end at 1,878. 

  • [By Mukesh Baghel]

    Data storage player Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX  ) has had a rough go this year. The company is losing market share to rival Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC  ) , and its financial performance is also on the decline. Seagate’s revenue and profit were down in the second quarter on a year-over-year basis, so it’s not astonishing to see that the company’s shares have taken a beating in 2014.

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Makism 3D Corp (MDDD)

Makism 3D Corp., incorporated on May 4 2010, is a three dimensional (3D) printer manufacturing company. The Company produces consumer and professional grade 3D printers. The Company’s flagship product, branded as the Wideboy family of printers, offers packaging designed to fit any office or professional space.

Its 3D printers utilize British and German engineered components. Its printers are assembled in Cambridge (United Kingdom).

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Udovich]

    We are two trading weeks into the new year and the 3D printing sector along with 3D printer stocks like ExOne Co (NASDAQ: XONE), Stratasys, Ltd (NASDAQ: SSYS), 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE: DDD) and Makism 3D Corp (OTCBB: MDDD) have been printing their share of red ink for investors – despite the fact that 3D printing got  plenty of attention at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas while the broader stock market rally has largely held up. With that in mind, here is the latest 3D printer stock or sector news you need to be aware of:

  • [By James E. Brumley]

    They say the great ones withstand the test of time. If that’s true of stocks (and it is), then it’s becoming increasingly safer to say Makism 3D Corp. (OTCMKTS:MDDD) is one of the great ones within the 3D printing world. No, it’s neither as big nor as prolific as 3D printer names like 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) or Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ:SSYS). Then again, everything is relative; MDDD may well be packing more of a punch for its investors than SSYS or DDD have in a long time.

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Lenovo Group Ltd (LNVGY)

Lenovo Group Limited (Lenovo) is a personal technology company serving customers in more than 160 countries. The Company is a personal computer (PC) vendor. The Company develops, manufactures and markets technology products and services. Its product lines include Think-branded commercial PCs and Idea branded consumer PCs, as well as servers, workstations, and a family of mobile Internet devices, including tablets and smart phones. Lenovo operates seven research and development centers and more than 46 world-class labs, including research centers in Yamato, Japan; Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China; and Raleigh, North Carolina, the United States. The Company is also engaged in investment holding. It operates in three segments: China, emerging markets (excluding China) and mature markets. Lenovo offers a range of commercial desktops to businesses of all sizes.

The Company’s products include laptops, tablets, desktops, workstations and servers. In May 2010, it launched the LePhone smartphone in China. During the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011 (fiscal 2011), China accounted for 46.4% of the Company’s total sales. During fiscal 2011, Emerging Markets (excluding China) accounted for 17.9% of the Company’s total sales. During fiscal 2011, Mature Markets accounted for 35.7% of the Company’s total sales. Its brands include ThinkPad notebook, as well as products carrying the ThinkCentre, ThinkStation, ThinkServer, IdeaCentre and IdeaPad sub-brands.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Analyse360Degree]

    In contrast Samsung had a superb time, reporting a YoY growth of 32.0%, as its shipments increased from 8.5 million to 11.2 million in a years time. However, the most impressive growth was displayed by the fast growing Chinese manufacturer Lenovo (LNVGY). The company reported a stupendous growth of 224.3% in tablet shipments and presently accounts for 4.1% of the global tablet market, up from 1.3% in 1Q13. Lenovo has been taking its devices very seriously and seems to be hell-bent on making a mark on the space, clearly understood from its acquisition of Google (GOOG) owned Motorola.

  • [By vinaysingh]

    Apart from the above-mentioned business areas, HP’s core competency still lies in PC markets and we are already aware of the smart devices wave that has almost swept the demand for desktops. In spite of battered demand in consumer PC market, HP increased the unit shipments by 6% y-o-y due to improved demand conditions in the commercial PC markets. As a result of a sturdy performance, HP’s market share is now just slightly lower than that of Lenovo (LNVGY), the leader in the PC market. A report from Gartner showcases the shares of enterprises that occupy this market.

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    Alamy Late last month, Chinese hardware giant Lenovo (LNVGY) was the subject of many headlines — not all of them complimentary — when it signed a high-profile deal to buy the Motorola Mobility smartphone unit from Google (GOOG). The Asian firm is ponying up a cool $2.9 billion to acquire the business, which is monstrously unprofitable to the tune of a $645 million operating loss in the first nine months of 2013. The market didn’t appreciate this. Disturbed by the idea of gallons of red ink spilling from Motorola Mobility onto Lenovo’s results, investors traded down the firm’s stock by as much as 14 percent after the deal was made public. This might have been compounded by the firm’s previous announcement, made only days earlier, that it was spending $2.3 billion to purchase IBM’s (IBM) x86 — read: lower-end — line of servers. Was such a sell-off, in reaction to either or both, justified? At Home Abroad Lenovo is one of those companies that likes to expand by acquisition. Few Westerners had ever heard of the IT manufacturer in 2005 when it closed its first big buy — the personal computing division of IBM, for total consideration of around $1.75 billion. The purchase seemed a counterintuitive move when everyone knew that a future stuffed with wireless Internet and portable computing was just around the corner. But guess what? Lenovo not only sold plenty of notebooks and desktops, it managed to grow into the top PC manufacturer in the world. According to figures from Gartner (IT), in Q4 2013 the company was the clear market leader in terms of PC vendor unit shipments. It moved nearly 15 million PCs during the quarter, a figure 6.6 percent higher than in the same period the previous year. This was particularly impressive considering that total shipments for the industry dropped by almost 7 percent over that time frame. Lenovo was able to do this because, for most of its life, it’s made big strides in less affluent markets and is continuing to do so. In

  • [By Mihir Mehta, Mehta]

    It is prudent for investors to watch out for the development of Apple’s share in China, especially after Google announced the sale of Motorola’s mobility division to Lenovo (NASDAQOTH: LNVGY  ) . This deal can prove to be a major threat to Apple in the Chinese markets, as Lenovo has a better position there . Thus, the onus will be on Apple to maintain its innovation streak and develop a robust way to capture the Asian markets amid competition from low-priced devices from Lenovo and Samsung.

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Steel Excel Inc (SXCL)

Steel Excel Inc., formerly ADPT Corp., incorporated in 1981, is primarily focused on capital redeployment and identification of new business operations. The identification of new business operations includes, but is not limited to, the oilfield servicing, sports, training, education, entertainment and lifestyle businesses. The Company operates in two segments: oilfield servicing and sports-related segment. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company acquired two sports-related businesses and one oilfield servicing business. On June 27, 2011, the Company acquired Baseball Heaven LLC and Baseball Cafe, Inc. On August 15, 2011, the Company acquired The Show, LLC. On December 7, 2011, the Company acquired Rogue Pressure Services, LLC. On February 9, 2012, the Company acquired Eagle Well Services, Inc. In May 2012, the Company acquired Sun Well Service, Inc. Effective December 16, 2013, Steel Excel Inc acquired Black Hawk Energy Services Inc, a provider of oil and gas field services.

The Company’s oilfield servicing segment provides services in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Services include snubbing services (controlled installation and removal of all tubulars – drill strings and production strings) in and out of the wellbore with the well under full pressure, flowtesting, and hydraulic work over/simultaneous operations (allows customers to perform multiple tasks on multiple wells on one pad at the same time). The Company’s sports-related services segment provides services related to marketing and providing baseball facility services, including training camps, summer camps, leagues and tournaments, concession and catering events and other events and related Websites. In addition, the Company outfit little league baseball and softball players and coaches in official major league baseball uniforms.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Geoff Gannon]

    1. Steel Excel (SXCL)
    2. FormFactor (FORM)
    3. Imation (IMN)
    4. Tuesday Morning (TUES)
    5. Pacific Biosciences (PACB)
    6. Maxygen (MAXY)
    7. Westell (WSTL)
    8. Volt Information Sciences (VISI)
    9. Yasheng Group (YHGG)

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Imation Corp (IMN)

Imation Corp. (Imation) is a global scalable storage and data security company. The Company’s portfolio includes tiered storage and security offerings for business and products designed to manage audio and video information in the home. The Company’s global brand portfolio includes the Imation brand, the Memorex brand, the XtremeMac and MXI Security brands. Imation is also the exclusive licensee of the TDK Life on Record brand. Its three product categories include traditional storage, secure and scalable storage, and audio and video information. It operates in four geographic segments: Americas, Europe, North Asia and South Asia. On February 28, 2011, it acquired all of the assets of Encryptx Corporation. On June 4, 2011, it acquired the assets of MXI Security, from Memory Experts International Inc. On October 4, 2011 it acquired the secure data storage hardware assets of IronKey Systems Inc. In December 2011, it acquired the data deduplication technology from Nine Tec hnology.

The Americas segment includes North America, Central America and South America. The Europe segment includes Europe and parts of Africa. North Asia segment includes Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan. The South Asia segment includes Australia, Singapore, India, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

Imation brand products include magnetic tape media, recordable compact discs (CDs), digital versatile Discs (DVDs) and Blu-ray discs, flash products and hard disk drives. The Imation brand includes the DataGuard Data Protection Appliances, InfiniVault Storage appliances and removable disk technology (RDX) removable hard disk storage systems. Imation Defender products include secure storage flash drives and external hard drives. Imation brand products are sold throughout the worldwide and target the commercial user and individual consumer. Imation Defender products include secure storage flash drives and external hard drives. TDK Life on Reco rd brand products include recordable CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray d! iscs, flash drives, tape cartridges, headphones and computer speakers which are sold to commercial customers and individual consumers. TDK Life on Record brand products is sold throughout the world.

XtremeMac brand products include cases, chargers and audio solutions to protect, power and play Apple iPad, iPod, iPhone and other devices. XtremeMac products are developed for Apple enthusiasts and are available worldwide. Its MXI Security brand includes secure storage flash drives and external hard drives, as well as software solutions to help manage portable security devices on the network.

Traditional Storage

The Company’s optical media products consist of CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray recordable media. It sells Blu-ray discs, which are used primarily for recording high-definition video content. Its recordable optical media products are sold through a variety of retail and commercial distribution channels and sourced from manufacturers primari ly in Taiwan and India. Optical storage capacities range from 650 megabyte CD-R (recordable) and CD-RW (rewritable) optical discs to 9.4 gigabyte double-sided DVD optical discs and Blu-ray discs with 25 gigabyte to 100 gigabyte of capacity. Its optical media is sold throughout the world under brands it owns or controls, including Imation, Memorex and TDK Life on Record and under a distribution agreement for the Hewlett Packard brand.

The Company’s magnetic tape media products are used for back-up, business and operational continuity planning, disaster recovery, near-line data storage and retrieval and for mass and archival storage. Other traditional storage products include primarily optical drives and audio and video tape media.

Secure and Scalable Storage

Secure storage products and software include universal serial bus (USB) flash drives and external hard drives designed to meet the security standards to protect data at rest with F ederal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) validation, pa! ssword an! d biometric authentication, including biometric USB drives, encrypted and biometric hard disk drives, secure portable desktop solutions and software solutions. It also sells standard USB flash drives and external hard disk drives throughout the world under its Imation, Memorex and TDK Life on Record brands. It sources these products from manufacturers primarily in Asia and the United States and sell them through a variety of retail and commercial distribution channels around the world. Scalable storage products include data protection appliances, such as DataGuard network attached storage backup appliances and InfiniVault active archive appliances.

Audio and Video Information

The Company’s audio and video information products include Apple iPad, iPod and iPhone accessories, headphones, CD players, alarm clocks, portable boom boxes, moving picture experts group layer-3 audio (MP3) players, and speakers sold under the Memorex, TDK Life on Record and XtremeMac brands. It designs products to meet user needs and source these products from manufacturers throughout Asia.

The Company competes with Maxell, JVC, Sony, Verbatim, Fuji, HP, SanDisk, Lexar, PNY and Kingston.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Geoff Gannon] g>4. Tuesday Morning (TUES)
    5. Pacific Biosciences (PACB)
    6. Maxygen (MAXY)
    7. Westell (WSTL)
    8. Volt Information Sciences (VISI)
    9. Yasheng Group (YHGG)

    I don’t love that list. I like the 14 past picks in the Ben Graham Net-Net Newsletter’s model portfolio much better. The newsletter only owns 1 of those 9 net-nets. Remember, we have 9 net-nets out of the 14 picked for the newsletter that are trading below where we picked them. So, obviously I like those 9 net-nets a lot better than these 9 net-nets.

    Like I said, I wouldn’t encourage you to buy those nine net-nets shown here — even if you’re looking to put a lot of money into net-nets. Instead you should look at your favorite net-nets — or the net-nets in the Ben Graham: Net-Net Newsletter — and use them as a buy list you are constantly placing orders from month after month.

    Building a diversified collection of net-net through many months of purchasing is a better way to invest a lot of money in net-nets than trying to focus on the biggest net-nets.

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Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: Synaptics Inc (SYNA)

Synaptics Incorporated is a developer and supplier of custom-designed human interface solutions that enable people to interact with a range of mobile computing, communications, entertainment, and other electronic devices. The Company focuses on the personal computer ( PC) market, primarily notebook computers, including ultrabooks, the markets for digital lifestyle products, including mobile smartphones and feature phones, the tablet market, and other select electronic device markets with its customized human interface solutions. The Company generally supplies its human interface solutions to its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers through their contract manufacturers, which take delivery of its products and pay the Company directly for them.

The Company provides custom human interface solutions for navigation, cursor control, and multimedia controls for many of the world’s premier PC OEMs. In addition to notebook applications, other PC product ap plications for its technology include peripherals, such as keyboards, mice, and monitors, as well as remote control devices for desktops, PCs, and digital home applications. Its solutions for the PC market include the TouchPad, the ClickPad, the TouchStyk, and dual pointing solutions. The Company’s tablet includes the ClearPad Series 7. In August 2012, it acquired Pacinian and the Video Display Operation of Integrated Device Technology, Inc.

TouchPad

TouchPad provides a method for screen navigation, cursor movement, and gestures and provides a platform for interactive input for both the consumer and corporate markets. TouchPad solutions offer various advanced features, including Scrolling, Customizable tap zones, performance of entertainment, productivity, and media tasks, tapping and dragging of icons, and device Interaction. The Company’s TouchPad solutions are available in a variety of sizes, electrical interfaces, and thicknesses.

ClickPad

The Company’s ClickPad introduces! a clickable mechanical design to the TouchPad application. Its ClickPad is activated by pressing down on the internal tact switch to perform a left- or right-button click and provides feedback similar to pressing a physical button. The latest version of ClickPad features ClickEQ, which is a mechanical solution.

ForcePad

The Company’s ForcePad is a thinner version of the Company’s ClickPad, which introduces a new dimension in control through the addition of variable force sensitivity. ForcePad is designed to provide consistent performance across OEM models through its design intelligence and self-calibration features.

Dual Pointing Solutions

The dual pointing solutions offer a TouchPad with a pointing stick in a single notebook computer. Its dual pointing solutions also provide the end user the ability to use both interfaces interchangeably. The Company has developed two solutions for use in the dual pointing market. Its first solution i ntegrates all the electronics for controlling a third-party resistive strain gauge pointing stick onto its TouchPad PCB. Its second dual pointing solution uses its TouchStyk and offers the OEM integration. The second solution is a completely modular design, allowing OEMs to offer TouchPad-only, TouchStyk-only, or dual pointing solutions on a build-to-order basis.

TouchStyk

The Company’s TouchStyk is a pointing stick interface solution for PC notebooks. TouchStyk is an integrated module that uses capacitive technology similar to that of its TouchPad. TouchStyk is enabled with press-to-select and tap-to-click capabilities and can be integrated into multiple computing and communications devices.

NavPoint

The Company’s NavPoint solution offers TouchPad functionality for small form factor devices in accessing and managing content in handheld devices through navigation controls. It also includes short- and long-distance scrol ling features, tapping, and mouse-like cursor navigation.

ClearPad

The Company’s ClearPad touchscreen solutions consist of a transparent, thin capacitive sensor, which is a discrete sensor, that can be placed over any display, such as an liquid crystal display (LCD) or organic light-emitting diode (OLED). Its ClearPad Series 3 can provide full-time tracking of ten or more fingers simultaneously and features stylus support and support for various sensor configurations, including discrete sensors, sensor-on-lens, which includes sensor electrodes patterned on the bottom of the glass cover lens; on-cell, which includes sensor electrodes patterned on the display glass, and in-cell, which includes sensor electrodes patterned inside the LCD glass.

The Company’s ClearPad Series 4 products combines its capacitive multi-touch technology with a device’s display driver in a single-chip solution delivering advanced display noise management and capacitive sensing performance. Its ClearPad Series 7 products are d esigned for large touchscreen market for products more closely related to clamshell notebooks, slates, tablets, and similar devices. The Company’s ClearPad Series 7 products include single-chip touchscreen solutions and multi-chip touchscreen solutions designed for devices, such as gaming applications.

FlexPad

This capacitive sensing interface is mounted beneath a mechanical keypad, and allows the keypad surface to be used for advanced scrolling and navigation features, character entry, and advanced gesture input on handheld devices. With navigation functionality similar to a touch pad, FlexPad offers interface and industrial design differentiation.

ClearButtons

The Company’s ClearButtons product is an extension of its core capacitive sensing technology that has been used in TouchPad solutions for notebook PCs, mobile smartphones, and feature phones. ClearButtons is a sensor that can be mounted under plastic, providing OEMs with integration and design options for scrolling and b! uttons.

TouchButtons

The Company’s TouchButtons product provides capacitive button and scrolling controls for an interface solution designed to replace mechanical buttons. Button arrays and ScrollStrips can be programmed to perform various functions, such as controls for multimedia, display and device settings in notebook PCs, multimedia keyboards, MP3 players, digital photo frames, monitors, and other digital lifestyle products. TouchButton interfaces are designed for integration under the plastic face of a device, allowing for a sealed, durable, and thin design, which can be coupled with light emitting diode (LED) animation.

ThinTouchTM

The Company’s ThinTouch, is a design technology that delivers a full keyboard solution that is 40% thinner than traditional keyboard solutions. ThinTouch provides design architecture that facilitates backlighting.

Proximity Sensing

The Company’s proximity sensing tec hnology enables users to interact with consumer electronics without touch. With this technology, sensors in a device, such as a notebook PC, mobile phone, peripheral, or digital photo frame, sense the presence of a user’s hand to activate a function, such as illuminating LEDs for discoverable buttons or waking devices from power-saving mode.

Dual Mode

The Company’s Dual Mode-enabled TouchPad interface allows a user to switch between cursor control and icon-based control on the TouchPad surface. In default mode, a Dual Mode-enabled TouchPad provides the same cursor control for on-screen navigation as a standard TouchPad. When the user taps on a launch icon located on the TouchPad surface, control icons illuminate on the TouchPad surface.

ChiralMotion Gesture

The Company’s ChiralMotion Gesture technology can be applied for continuous circular motion to initiate precise and fine-tuned scrolling on any two-dimensional input surf ace, such as its TouchPad and ClearPad solutions. ChiralMoti! on Gestur! e technology is suited for small handheld products, such as feature-rich mobile handsets, personal navigation systems, and personal media players that require easy access for entertainment, music, and other digital files.

Synaptics Gesture Suite

The Company’s Synaptics Gesture Suite (SGSTM) provides users with an intuitive way to interact with their notebook computers. SGS was developed by analyzing the most common workflows from entertainment activities, such as viewing photos and listening to music, to productivity activities, such as accessing e-mails and presentations. SGS represents a portfolio of gestures available on its interface solutions. These gestures are compatible with a range of Microsoft Windows and Linux applications. Gestures in the market include Pinch, Rotate, ChiralMotion Scrolling, Two-Finger Scrolling, Three-Finger Flick, Three-Finger Down, and Four-Finger Flick.

Enhanced Gesture Recognition

Synapti cs’s Enhanced Gesture Recognition is a suite of ClearPad gestures included in its firmware. Customers can easily enable SingleTouch gestures, such as Tap, Double Tap, Press, and Flick; DualTouch gestures, such as Pinch and Pivot Rotate, and multi-finger gestures for ClearPad directly from its touch module firmware. No additional ssoftware is required on the host processor to implement these gestures.

Dual Mode for TouchPad

The Company’s Dual Mode-enabled TouchPad interface allows a user to switch between cursor control and icon-based controls on the TouchPad surface. In default mode, a Dual Mode-enabled TouchPad provides the same cursor control for on-screen navigation as a standard TouchPad.

The Company competes with Alps Electric, Elan Microelectronics, Atmel, Cypress and Melfas.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ryan Sullivan]

    The Google (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) -branded, LG-manufactured Nexus 5 is the first high-definition smartphone to use Synaptics’  (NASDAQ: SYNA  ) ClearPad 3350 In-cell touchscreen technology. This new technology equips the Nexus 5 with a single-chip touch controller integrated into the display. The product offers increased touchscreen sensitivity with a 10-finger multi-touch display and 120 Hz refresh rate.

  • [By Evan Niu, CFA]

    What: Shares of Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA  ) have popped by as much as 18% today after the company posted solid quarterly earnings and provided upbeat guidance thanks to design wins at Samsung.

  • [By Evan Niu, CFA]

    You got me there
    In these specific use cases, Apple simply can’t compete. Short of calling up Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA  ) and incorporating the company’s ClearPad technology and its 3D-Touch capabilities, the iPhone will never know when you’re about to touch it. Apple used to tap Synaptics for iPod click-wheel sensors, but that was a long time ago. The Samsung design win has given Synaptics a nice pop, since the GS4 is bound to bring in abundant unit volumes.

  • [By Brian Pacampara]

    What: Shares of Synaptics (NASDAQ: SYNA  ) climbed 11% today after the touch-screen technologist raised its outlook for the current quarter.  

Best Computer Hardware Companies For 2015: George Risk Industries Inc (RSKIA)

George Risk Industries, Inc. (GRI), incorporated on February 21, 1961, is engaged in the design, manufacture and sale of computer keyboards, push button switches, burglar alarm components and systems, pool alarms, thermostats, EZ Duct wire covers and water sensors. GRI is a diversified manufacturer of electronic components, consisting of the security industries variety of door and window contact switches, environmental products, proximity switches and custom keyboards. The Company operates in two segments: security alarm products and security alarm products GRI’s security burglar alarm products comprise approximately 84% of net revenues and are sold through distributors and alarm dealers/installers. These products are used for residential, commercial, industrial and government installations. Its products include security products/ magnetic reed switches, data entry peripherals, pushbutton switches, custom engraved keycaps and proximity sensors.

The security segment has approximately 3,000 customers. One of the distributors, ADI accounts for approximately 40% of the Company’s sales of these products. The keyboard segment has approximately 800 customers. Keyboard products are sold to original equipment manufacturers to their specifications and to distributors of off-the-shelf keyboards of proprietary design. GRI owns and operates its main manufacturing plant and offices in Kimball, Nebraska with a satellite plant 40 miles away in Gering, Nebraska.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Geoff Gannon] n. When it traded around $4.50 (it’s now more like $7.50 a share) it was a net-net with a good business and a moat. There were risks – customer concentration for one – and it was no blue chip. There was no diversification of product lines, customers, geography, industry, etc. It was closely tied to U.S. construction activity.

    All this means it was no blue chip. Not that it didn’t have a moat. I felt it did. And certainly not that it wasn’t a high quality business. It demonstrably was (unleveraged returns on tangible equity were around 30%). And it was a net-net. In fact, it was a net cash stock at one time.

    So they do happen. But they are rare. The usual distinction with net-nets is not between companies like that – companies which may have a moat, do earn good returns on capital, etc. – but between companies that are legitimate and illegitimate businesses.

    A legitimate business is – in my mind – a historically profitable one. It is likely to have positive retained earnings (there are exceptions to this rule – but it’s a good first check). It should have more years of profits (6 or more) than losses in the last 10 years. And it should be self-financing.

    Compare this to an illegitimate business. The least legitimate businesses are those that – while publicly traded – have never turned a profit and can’t self finance. They may be net-nets – but they are net-nets because they have issued stock in the past and then seen their share prices drop. Retained earnings are often negative.

    There are other factors to consider. Is the business old or young? Is depreciation – and other accounting – especially conservative or aggressive? Are taxes especially conservative or aggressive? And is share issuance dilutive or not.

    I think a legitimate business tends towards LIFO accounting, quicker depreciation, higher taxes paid as a percentage of reported income, and lower share issuance. There are exceptions. Many

  • [By Geoff Gannon] >Ark Restaurants (ARKR). When I bought them – and even now – I think their return on buyback would be high and I’d be in favor of it. However, the stocks are illiquid and their free cash flow relative to the dollar value of freely traded shares is not high. As a result, I’m always in favor of RSKIA and ARKR buying back stock. But, I understand it’s very hard for them to do in practice unless there is a meaningful holder who signals he wants out of the stock.

    My approach to buybacks is pretty simple. One, I prefer them. Two, I look at the share count history over the last 10 to 20 years as my guide to what the company might do in the future – I want a pattern of predictable behavior. Generally, that means a continuously shrinking share count that shrinks in bull markets and bear markets, panics and recessions and booms and busts and so on. Three, if I’m a buyer of the stock – then the company should be a buyer of its own stock. No questions asked on that one. If the stoc k is good enough for me to buy it’s clearly good enough for the company to buy. Finally, I look for the return on buyback. I tend to focus on the earning power the company is buying relative to the net cash it is spending. If a company has cash on its balance sheet, the amount of net cash consumed by a buyback will be less than it appears because I will end up with a greater percentage ownership of the resulting balance sheet as well as the income statement.

    I want the return on buyback to always be at least 10%. As a rule, the average company will only get returns on its buybacks of 10% or higher if it pays less than 15 times normal earnings. In special cases – fast growing companies, companies where free cash flow vastly exceeds reported income, etc. – it is possible that buybacks above 15 times earnings will return more than 10%. It almost never makes sense for a company to buy back stock at over 25 times earnings. So, for most companies, under 15 times earnings is the green zone for bu

  • [By Geoff Gannon] things I said was that I knew George Risk’s materials cost was higher than some competitors’ selling price. The fact that any company could survive under conditions like that immediately suggested that dollars paid for the product was not the key concern for this product.

    Perceived costs had to involve other concerns like customization, shipping speed, reliability, etc. Because it was a low cost product going into a higher cost product going into very high cost projects it seemed likely there was the opportunity to raise prices if needed. And that’s what they ended up doing. The important clue for me in that investigation was the severe cost disadvantage George Risk had. You couldn’t compete at such a cost disadvantage unless price was less important than I initially thought.

    I think you will find that most of these insights are not available in the financial statements. They come from reading the 10-Ks of all companies in the industry, reading articles about the companies, listening to all conference call transcripts, etc.

    For example, there is not much in the financial statements of Carnival (CCL) that explains how the cruise business really works. But all of the companies in the industry (CCL, RCL and NCL) freely discuss the economics of their business in great detail. They break out costs before and after fuel. They give you per-passenger prices of how much newly built ships cost. They give you lots and lots of details. They explain how they price their product (the way airlines do) and so on. There is an extreme level of detailed explanation of the business in the various conference calls, 10-Ks, etc.

    A great source for this information is going back to the time the company went public or at least finding the S-1 of a competitor. When a company goes public it often gives much more detail into product economics, etc., than it will later on when it reports annual results.

    That is also a good place to learn ab out market share, com