Top Tech Stocks for 2010: TheStreet's Mid-Year Report - TheStreet

Top Tech Stocks for 2010: TheStreet's Mid-Year Report

Here is a six-month report on three of our top six tech picks for the year.
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Updated with Red Hat's first-quarter results.

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- Six months ago

TheStreet

busted out its

top tech stocks for 2010

. Here's our mid-term report for three of them.

Internet behemoth

Amazon

(AMZN) - Get Report

made our list of the year's top tech stocks after leaving rivals like

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

trailing in its wake. After successfully navigating the recession, Amazon was seen as one of the few large-cap tech companies capable of major growth.

Investors, however, have been

less than impressed with Amazon so far this year,

although the market's

expectations may have been over-inflated

.

Even

good first-quarter results

were not enough to drive the company's stock upward, although disappointing guidance weighed on Amazon's shares. Overall, Amazon's share price has dipped 0.98% over the last six months.

There are certainly some big hurdles in Amazon's path. The strengthening dollar, for example, recently prompted

Barclays Capital to trim its Amazon price target and EPS estimates.

State taxation of Internet sales, the so-called Amazon Tax,

could also prove a headache for online retailers

.

Another threat looming on the horizon is

Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPad

, touted as a potential Kindle-killer.

Still, there are plenty of positives in the Amazon story. As of last month, the retail giant had reportedly sold

3 million Kindle e-readers,

although exact figures have not yet been released. Amazon also clinched a recent deal to sell Kindles at retail giant

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

.

The company's acquisition of popular online shoe seller

Zappos.com

was also a

shrewd move

that bodes well for the future, and

third-party sellers are expected to drive Amazon's overseas sales.

Thomas Weisel recently initiated its coverage of Amazon with a Market weight rating and $135 price target.

Amazon now holds a significant portion -- 12% -- of the total U.S. e-commerce market, according to the analyst firm.

Currently trading around $126.49, Amazon's share dip could still spell longer-term upside for investors.

Red Hat

Described as a "mini-Microsoft" because of its dominant position in the Linux market,

Red Hat

(RHT) - Get Report

has enjoyed solid, if unspectacular, share gains this year.

The company's stock has risen 9.7% during the last six months and the software maker is still getting plenty of analyst love.

Lazard Capital Markets recently initiated coverage of Red Hat with a buy rating and $35 price target. "Red Hat is one of the best-positioned companies in mid-cap software," explained analyst Joel Fishbein, in a note released earlier this month. "In our view, Red Hat's recurring revenue model, high revenue visibility, and sticky customer base are under-appreciated."

The Raleigh, North Carolina-based firm beat analysts' sales estimate in its first-quarter results, released after market close. Red Hat reported revenue of $209.1 million, a 20% hike on the prior year's quarter, and above analysts' estimate of $202.89 million.

Excluding items, Red Hat earned 18 cents a share, up from 15 cents a share in the same period last year, and in line with Wall Street's estimate.

Red Hat, which competes with

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

,

Novell

(NOVL)

and

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

, is seen as well-positioned to tap into some of tech's biggest trends. These include

virtualization

,

cloud computing

and

growing demand for middleware,

a form of software that links different computer programs.

In March, the company posted strong fourth-quarter numbers, although its profit forecast fell short of analysts' estimates, bringing down Red Hat's stock.

M&A chatter also continues to swirl around the company, which is currently trading at around $31.90. There has been plenty of speculation about which firms might snap up Red Hat, with

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

and Oracle already touted as potential purchasers.

Lazard's Fishbein feels that the software maker remains an attractive M&A target, particularly given its share price. "Red Hat's unique technology and business model position the company as an ideal acquisition candidate at a significant premium to current trading multiple," he wrote, in his recent note.

VMware

VMware

(VMW) - Get Report

is certainly living up to our call.

Buoyed by international sales and growing license revenue, VMware blew past analysts' estimates in its recent first quarter and

gave strong guidance

.

While there have been some fears about the stock's valuation, VMware shares have risen more than 72% in the last six months. It's currently trading around $71.72 and has plenty of fans.

"We continue to believe additional upside exists in VMware," explained Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Company, in a recent note. Marshall, who reiterated his VMware buy rating, also raised the company's price target from $65 to $85, underlining the ongoing strength of virtualization technology.

Virtualization lets users divide physical hardware into multiple virtual chunks and has grown in popularity among users juggling a myriad of operating systems and applications. With companies also struggling with budget pressures, VMware and its rivals such as Microsoft and

Citrix

(CTXS) - Get Report

are pushing virtualization as a way for firms to reduce the amount of server and storage hardware within their data centers.

Majority-owned

by storage giant

EMC

(EMC)

, VMware is also expected to tap the

ongoing PC refresh

with its desktop virtualization software.

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