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Five Big Tech Trends to Watch in 2004

Technology investors are always on the lookout for the next big thing -- the next PC, the next cell phone, the next Internet -- that will send revenue and earnings soaring like rockets.

But in 2004, the search for the next big thing isn't just of interest to technology investors. Without a big thing from the tech sector, or at least several bigger-than-a-breadbox things, the entire stock market is likely to stall in 2004.

That's why I've put together a list of five possible next big things in technology for 2004, and picked 10 stocks that could soar with those trends. If they do, this stock market rally has a good chance of powering ahead in 2004. If together they don't add up to much, stocks will face tough going in the year ahead.

Read my nominees, throw in your own and then do the math. Do these trends add up to enough unanticipated earnings power to drive stock prices further upward from here?

Techs Must Power Any Real Rally

Why do I say that strength of the next big things in technology is so critical to the market as a whole in 2004?

Before Santa arrived for his traditional rally, this stock market was looking very tired. Sure, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and other indexes were going up. But the sectors that had led the rally since it started last March had faltered. Technology, financial and retail stocks were under such steady selling pressure that in technical rankings of sector strength, like that kept by Phillip Erlanger of Erlanger Squeeze Play, these groups had dropped from the head of the pack to its tail.

On Dec. 19, financial stocks, technology-service stocks, electronic-technology stocks, health-technology stocks and retail stocks were five of the six weakest groups of the 18 that Erlanger tracks.

10 Stocks Set to Profit From Tech's Next Five Big Things
These names look like good bets for 2004
Company Industry Company Industry
Cisco Systems (CSCO:Nasdaq) Networking equipment SanDisk (SNDK:Nasdaq) Flash memory/data storage devices
Dell (DELL:Nasdaq) Personal computers Sycamore Networks (SCMR:Nasdaq) Networking equipment
Intel (INTC:Nasdaq) Semiconductors Symbol Technologies (SBL:NYSE) Wireless networking, information systems
Manugistics (MANU:Nasdaq) Pricing and supply chain software Western Digital (WDC:NYSE) Disk drives
Netegrity (NETE:Nasdaq) Security software Zebra Technologies (ZBRA:Nasdaq) Bar code and specialty label printing; radio frequency identification tracking
Source: MSN Money

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