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MILLBURN, N.J. ( Stockpickr) -- 2011 is drawing to a close. While both professionals and do-it-yourself investors try to prognosticate the year ahead in advance, we're always dealt our fair share of surprises -- both good and bad.
Research In Motion: -75.5%
The world of mobile telecommunications was exploding as we entered 2011. Smartphone usage was on the rise. The introduction of the
Apple(AAPL - Get Report) iPad launched another technological era, that of tablet devices.
All of the stars were lined up for
Research In Motion(RIMM) to build off of its dominance in enterprise telephony to challenge Apple on both the smartphone and tablet wars. The battle lines were drawn.
But Research In Motion did not show up.
The company was unable to successfully transition its line of smartphones from corporate function to consumer fun. RIM's Playbook tablet was a flop, represented a small portion of its total sales and resulted in significant write-offs. Instead of an Apple-Research In Motion duopoly, smartphones using the
Google(GOOG) Android operating system now compete head to head with the iPhone, and the tablet market, while dominated by the iPad, has other successful entrants such as
Amazon's(AMZN) Kindle line and
Barnes & Noble's(BKS) Nook.
Research In Motion might not survive 2012 as an independent company. My vote both in terms of my technology purchases and investment holdings remains with AAPL, though I also own Google.
RIM, which shows up on a recent list of
6 Tech Stocks to Avoid in 2012, was featured recently in "
7 Extreme Stocks to Trade in This Volatile Market." Apple, on the other hand, shows up on a list of
13 Tech Stocks to Buy and was featured in "
5 Stocks Hedge Funds Favor for 2012."
First Solar: -75.3%
Reduced reliance on fossil fuels and expansion of alternative energy, particularly solar energy, was a grand promise made by Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential run. However, as we have seen, solar energy is not all that it is cracked up to be.
The federal government gave tax breaks and over $500 million in loans to Solyndra, only to watch that company slip into bankruptcy. The entire industry is decaying before our eyes much like the dotcoms did a decade ago.
First Solar(FSLR - Get Report) is off over 75% so far this year.