5 Risky Tech Stock Bets

Trampled stocks Nokia, Qualcomm, Verizon, Amazon and Brocade may rise again.
Publish date:



) -- Great market we're having these days.

Any prudent investor would look at the stock market's recent wild, mostly downward gyrations and take a step back until calm returns.

But what if you're looking for a ticket and are ready to take a ride? What if you've decided to take a risk and buy a name that everyone else is selling?

If that's the case, here are five hair-raising, completely out of favor, hold-your-nose untouchable, left-for-dead tech stocks that may have redeemable value.

Ready to dive for sunken treasures? Read on.

No. 5 Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

The situation.

Nokia is the fallen giant in the phone business. While still the top mobile phone maker, Nokia has helplessly lost ground in the fast growing smartphone market. Nokia shares are down 30% since April 21, when the company turned in a weak first quarter report.

The bear case.

Nokia has lost its way.


(AAPL) - Get Report

iPhone and a compelling collection of


(GOOG) - Get Report

Android-powered phones are leading the big touch-screen revolution and Nokia has badly missed the moment. Making it worse, Nokia has almost no U.S. business, making it hugely dependent on Europe and Asia where debt woes and growth constraints loom.

The bull case.

Nokia owns midrange phones -- the so-called feature phones that play music, handle email, shoot pictures and are the mainstay for consumers. This continues to be a thriving market for Nokia, which is cranking out popular new models like the C3. And while Nokia gets demerits for flunking the smartphone test, the new N8 holds promise. So here's the payoff: If the Eurozone can manage to slog through a few debt restructurings, the financial crisis will be downgraded to a warning, leaving Nokia far better off than investors feared.

No. 4 Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

The situation.

San Diego wireless chip giant Qualcomm has an unusually strong hand in mobile technology, but that has not guaranteed a winning streak. Like Nokia, Qualcomm offered a worse-than-expected outlook on April 21, sending investors the message that there were going to be more bumps along the road. It also helped trigger an 18% stock slide amid widespread pessimism.

The bear case.

Qualcomm is one of the winners in the global upgrade to 3G wireless technology, but tighter budgets and 2G stasis in some developing countries threatens to slow the sales growth. And less 3G means fewer and cheaper phones, a negative when you are Qualcomm collecting licensing fees on each phone sold.

The bull case.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor is the speediest chip in smartphones at the moment. And as such, it enjoys early design wins with HTC's


(VZ) - Get Report




(S) - Get Report

EVO and


(DELL) - Get Report


Dell Streak

tablet phone. Qualcomm appears to be where mobile computing is headed, but it is still early. Meanwhile, 3G spending can't stay suspended forever, one would think.

No. 3 Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

The situation.

Verizon has gotten no respect this year; it even lags rival


(T) - Get Report

in its dismal appraisal on Wall Street. Verizon shares are down 17% so far this year, significantly lower than Ma Bell's 12% swoon.

The bear case.

Verizon can be summed up in rather bleak terms: High costs, heavy debts and stagnant growth. Verizon has $61.5 billion in total debt, representing about 57% of the company's $107.6 billion estimated annual revenue. It's not exactly Greece, which has a debt level equal to 115% of the nation's gross domestic product. But it is higher than the U.S. where debt is 53% of GDP. And with Verizon's .5% estimated sales growth in 2010, the burden isn't exactly getting lighter.

The bull case.

Verizon has been making adjustments. Earlier this year, the company stopped expansion of FiOS, its expensive fiber optic network construction intended to compete with cable companies in video, phone and Net service bundles. And now analysts at Telecom Pragmatics say Verizon is getting more cash conscious on its 4G wireless plans. According to the research shop, Verizon is considering full

4G in large cities and an upgraded 3G in outlying

areas. The move would keep Verizon in the lead in 4G while sparing billions in network construction costs to areas with limited return on investment.

No. 2 Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

The situation.

In the past month, Amazon shares have dropped 17%. Part of that drop is pegged to worries about Amazon's exposure to the falling value of the euro. But most of the selling of Amazon has to do with e-books and the vulnerability of the Kindle.

The bear case.

Apple's iPad has gotten off the a spectacular start here and abroad as consumers have shown an interest in the new tablet-form media player. Add the

Barnes and Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

Nook and



Kobo, and suddenly it looks like the Kindle is getting beat at its own game.

The bull case.

The rise of the e-book readers, while certainly devastating to book publishers, isn't bad news for Kindle, the leading e-reader seller. Though Amazon doesn't disclose Kindle figures, analysts estimate about 2 million Kindles were sold last year, 3.7 million will be sold this year and more than 5 million will go next year. The Kindle story, in other words, improves with each chapter, and it doesn't look bad on Amazon's shelf.

No. 1 Brocade


The situation.

Brocade shares have tanked this year, down 29% despite being one of the leading suppliers of data storage gear to a market full of data center shoppers.

The bear case.

Brocade hasn't helped itself this year. Not only did it sit out the consolidation party in data networking, it failed to deliver the expected sales success of its new Ethernet equipment. A

big revenue miss and dim outlook

in February set the tone for a market looking to sell tech stocks this spring.

The bull case.

Brocade gets another shot at success on June 8 when the company introduces its next generation data gear during a company-hosted technology day in New York. Brocade will stack its Ethernet gear it makes for


(IBM) - Get Report

and Dell, up against rivals like


(JNPR) - Get Report



(CSCO) - Get Report

. No need for homerun heroics here, just a few solid hits could turn the season around for Brocade.

Readers Also Like: 7 Low-Risk Stocks for June

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York