Top 3 Big-Data Stocks for 2012

Editor's note: As part of our partnership with Nightly Business Report, TheStreet's James Rogers joined NBR Monday (watch video and read transcript) to discuss the tech stocks investors should watch.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- We all know that Silicon Valley loves buzzwords, but investors should pay close attention to the "big data" market, which could spell big money for companies such as IBM ( IBM), EMC ( EMC) and Teradata ( TDC).

Big data refers to the management of vast quantities of unstructured data, or information that is outside the realm of traditional databases. Examples include email messages, PowerPoint presentations, audio, video and social media information.

" This is a hot space, to say the least," said Jayson Noland, an analyst at Robert W. Baird, in an email. "I was told the other day that there are 125 start-ups in big data, mostly focused on analytics."
Word on the Street

There's no shortage of publicly trade companies that are riding the big data wave. The biggest names are IBM, EMC and Teradata, which have key weapons in their arsenals. Other companies playing in this rapidly-growing space include Oracle ( ORCL), NetApp ( NTAP), HP ( HPQ) and Hitachi's ( HIT) subsidiary Hitachi Data Systems. Business intelligence specialists Qlik Technologies ( QLIK) and Tibco Software ( TIBX) are also making a name in big data.

"Increasingly, the transformation of business itself is being driven by the ability to harness big data," noted David Goulden, the EMC CFO, during the company's recent fourth-quarter conference call. Businesses that can quickly use the vast troves of data both inside and outside their companies, he added, can gain competitive advantage.

Big data is clearly a growth area. JMP Securities estimates valued the market at $9.1 billion market in 2011, a figure that will reach $86.4 billion by 2021.

Read on for more details on tech's top 3 big-data stocks:

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