Tech Stocks to Watch: Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Research in Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), Guidewire Software
Research in Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL ) , and a software company's IPO round out the biggest headline-making tech stocks this week - but not all are "Buys." Major change for RIM: Research in Motion, the struggling Blackberry smartphone maker, has named a new Chief Executive Officer to replace co-CEOS Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie - but could be too little, too late for RIM. The company announced Monday morning that RIM-insider Thorsten Heins would take over the reins effective immediately. Lazaridis will stay on as vice chairman of the board; Balsillie will stay as a director. Lazaridis and Balsille have received intensifying shareholder backlash for failing to effectively compete in the smartphone market, especially against Apple Inc.'s iPhone. RIM's stock fell 75% last year as Apple and Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG ) dominated the industry. RIM's share of the global smartphone market sank to 11% in the third quarter from 15% a year earlier. Heins has been RIM's chief operating officer since 2008. He's said there's no need for a drastic change of plans to get RIM back on track - although industry consensus says otherwise. He's also not known for innovation - a reason the leadership replacement might not do any good for flailing RIM. "Heins is a product execution guy, he's not a visionary," Ehud Gelblum, an analyst with Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ), told Bloomberg News . "Heins has to give people a reason why they need a BlackBerry. It's going to be very difficult for him." Research in Motion stock fell 8.58% Monday to close at $15.54. Click here to continue reading...
Research in Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), and a software company's IPO round out the biggest headline-making tech stocks this week - but not all are "Buys."

Major change for RIM: Research in Motion, the struggling Blackberry smartphone maker, has named a new Chief Executive Officer to replace co-CEOS Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie - but could be too little, too late for RIM.

The company announced Monday morning that RIM-insider Thorsten Heins would take over the reins effective immediately. Lazaridis will stay on as vice chairman of the board; Balsillie will stay as a director.

Lazaridis and Balsille have received intensifying shareholder backlash for failing to effectively compete in the smartphone market, especially against Apple Inc.'s iPhone. RIM's stock fell 75% last year as Apple and Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) dominated the industry. RIM's share of the global smartphone market sank to 11% in the third quarter from 15% a year earlier.

Heins has been RIM's chief operating officer since 2008. He's said there's no need for a drastic change of plans to get RIM back on track - although industry consensus says otherwise. He's also not known for innovation - a reason the leadership replacement might not do any good for flailing RIM.

"Heins is a product execution guy, he's not a visionary," Ehud Gelblum, an analyst with Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), told Bloomberg News. "Heins has to give people a reason why they need a BlackBerry. It's going to be very difficult for him."

Research in Motion stock fell 8.58% Monday to close at $15.54.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) to post monster quarter: Apple is gearing up for what could be a blowout quarter. The tech giant reports earnings Tuesday, Jan. 24 and analysts' estimate earnings per share of $10.08 on revenue of about $38.8 billion.

Apple last quarter missed analysts' expectations for the first time since 2004, sending the stock plunging in its biggest one-day decline ever.

Since last quarter's earnings were released, Apple product sales received a boost from the iPhone 4S, which hit stores in mid-October and sold more than 4 million units the first weekend. The iPad 2 sales, boosted by holiday shopping, also are expected to push earnings much higher than last quarter.

Look for AAPL to jump after the report. The stock has risen in after-hours trading 70% of the time following its earnings release, according to market researcher Birinyi Associates.

Apple stock climbed 1.69% Monday to close at $427.42. Wall Street has a one-year price target of about $513 - a 20% premium to Monday's close.

New kid on the block: In a busy week for IPOs, Guidewire Software Inc. is to begin trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "GWRE."

Guidewire develops software for property-and-casualty insurers. It boasts a top selling product, ClaimCenter software, which was the industry's most widely used web-based claims system as of January 2011.

In the previous quarter ended Oct. 31 - the company's 2012 first fiscal quarter - revenue rose 51% and net income soared 152%.

But investors should be cautious about jumping on Guidewire. The company expects revenue to be down or flat for the second and third fiscal quarters compared to last. It also has failed to make much money from its cloud capabilities, and now faces increasing competition in the cloud market from aggressive competitor Accenture Plc (NYSE: ACN).

Guidewire IPO price range is $10 - $12. It hopes to raise $90 million.

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