CES 2009 – Forget the Gadgets, Buy the Gadget Makers!

by Sarah Hu on April 12, 2009

Jennifer Openshaw, President of WeSeed and author of The Millionaire Zone (Hyperion), today awarded “WeSeed grades” for the top gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show that are likely to have the greatest impact on the companies behind them.

The Las Vegas glitz over the games and gadgets is great, but the real story is the companies behind the big show,” said Openshaw. Consumers will dictate what technology succeeds and which companies go along for the ride. We’ve learned about the top tech toys, but which might lead to the best stock picks?”

Tomorrow, January 13th at 7pm EST/6pm CST, Openshaw will hold a webinar – Translate 2009 CES Top Toys into Top Picks — so consumers can learn and talk live. To attend, sign up at WeSeed.com or search for WeSeed on Facebook for full instructions.

To help consumers decide which gadgets are likely to mean the most to the companies behind them, Openshaw and the WeSeed team took a look at the gadgets and awarded three letter grades: an “A” for those likely to have a high impact on the company and its stock price; a “B” to those likely to have some impact; and a “C” to those who are expected to have minimal impact.

Three of the 10 most buzzed about CES gadgets received an “A,” three a “B,” and four a “C.” They are as follows:

High Impact (Grade = A)

  • Yahoo! Connected TV (YHOO) – Yahoo! expands its “widgets” business to offer full-length video and movies. This could be big for consumers and the company, if it finally cracks the nut for video on demand delivered through the Internet. Stay tuned.
  • Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard (LOGI) — This keyboard does offer something for the IM-distracted PC user – a small display like a russian brides for sale camera display to keep in touch while you play Halo. This is not a revolutionary product in itself, but does show that LOGI understands you can make more money with specialized niche products. The company won seven CES innovation awards – a positive sign for a supplier of commodity products.
  • Palm Pre Smartphone (PALM) — Another entry into the iPhone fray, but a pretty good one with PDA-like interfaces with PCs, etc. New features like wireless charging have attracted a lot of attention and the markets responded well; the stock was up 34% the day of the launch.

Medium Impact (Grade = B)

  • Nokia E63 Smart Phone and Philips Alliance (NOK) – Another me-too product, this time in the BlackBerry category. This fully-keyboarded smart phone is brought over from Europe, and weighs in at only $249 unlocked. It should bring Nokia into the highest growth and profit segment as a smart phone contender. Their “DNLA” alliance with Philips is attractive as a way to get home electronics to synch up with phones. That vision, plus becoming a banking device, will really expand the mobile phone, and Nokia may (and should) be at the center of this.
  • Dell XPS 625 Gaming PC (DELL) — This gaming PC has some attractive design elements. What’s better for Dell is the return to customizable PC builds for computer enthusiasts — their old bread and butter and most profitable business. If they do more of this and less of the mundane commodity products, this could be good for the company and the stock.
  • Microsoft Windows 7 (MSFT) — Microsoft usually does pretty well with new OS rollouts, but Vista was a huge disappointment. This is a refinement of that product. The beta was announced by CEO Steve Ballmer in his keynote speech. If MSFT does it right, it could move the company back into a leadership position. But hard to say with what we know now.
  • Sony Vaio P Series Lifestyle PC (SNE) – Netbooks have been popping up all over the electronics market, but Sony may have hit it out of the park with this one. A classy looking laptop with turn-by-turn navigation, internet access, and basic computing that can fit in a blazer pocket. The verdict is still out on how many people will use a computer this small, but it has some promise.

Low Impact (Grade = C)

  • Pioneer VSX-819H A-V Receiver (6773JP) – Pioneer has long been a commodity player in the audio market, and its recent earnings performance reflects this. They’ve been further hurt by the consumer slowdown and stronger dollar. But this A-V receiver has a lot of nice features for $300; it looks like a decent value for consumers looking for a primary or even a secondary location in their homes. It probably will not move the stock much, and it’s also hard to invest in this Tokyo exchange company besides.
  • Sony X-Series Walkman and Cybershot G3 camera/browser (SNE) — An exciting new product with attractive G3 browser applications and the ability to take pictures and move them to or from this device to anywhere. This may well define a new category. As for the Walkman, finally we breathe some new life into this old but fabulous brand. But neither of these products will be much of a blip on this giant’s radar. This company’s fortunes are much more driven by consumer spending and foreign exchange rates.
  • HP TouchSmart PC (HPQ) – A pretty cool new package that pretty much does away with the mouse and offers a more Apple-like feel. But its real value is hard to interpret and company marketing materials didn’t help much. It’s nice to see HPQ innovating, but the impact of this is unclear.

WeSeed is a new site designed to help real people turn what they know and love into stock ideas much as famed investor Peter Lynch did — except WeSeed takes that theory into the 21st century with state-of-the-art web 2.0 technology. WeSeed helps consumers make the connection between the products they know and love and the companies behind them. It achieves this by segmenting the stock market into mini-stock markets (such as the Tech Stock Market) and offers a proprietary WeSearch tool delivering personalized stock ideas.

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