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How T-Mobile Could Push Apple to New Highs

Monday - 4/1/2013, 8:30pm  ET

Each week, I endeavor to report the results of the Big Idea Portfolio, a collection of five tech stocks that I believe will crush the market over a three-year period. I've done it before; my last tussle with Mr. Market ended with me beating the index's average return by 13.35%.

Real money was on the line then as it is now, which means any one of the five stocks you see below could cause me a lot of public embarrassment. This time Apple took a hit, and that's despite some really good news from T-Mobile.

At its "Un-carrier" event, the Deutsche Telekom (NASDAQOTH: DTEGY) unit revealed a plan that ends subsidies but still allows shoppers to purchase the latest smartphones without much upfront investment.

Specifically, T-Mobile says it will ask customers to kick in an initial deposit on premium handsets and pay the balance over 24 months. Official support for Apple's iPhone -- including the iPhone 5 -- arrives on April 12 while LTE service is live now in seven markets. T-Mobile plans to offer LTE coverage for as many as 200 million U.S. customers by the end of this year.

Color me thrilled. T-Mobile's LTE moves should push incumbent carriers to improve both speed and access on their own networks. Apple, meanwhile, gets another carrier pushing its iGear at the same premium prices the company has enjoyed for years.

What's the Big Idea this week?
Among my five tech stocks, only Riverbed Technology and salesforce.com rallied. Neither move was enough to keep me from losing even more ground to Mr. Market -- another 178 basis points, to be specific, as every major index rallied.
 
This time, the S&P 500 led the gainers with a 0.79% improvement, followed the Nasdaq's 0.69% gain, the Russell 2000's 0.56% jump, and the Dow's 0.46% bump, according to data supplied by The Wall Street Journal. Here's a closer look at where I stood through Thursday's close:

Company

Starting Price*

Recent Price

Total Return

Apple

$416.26**

$442.66

6.3%

Google

$650.09

$794.19

22.2%

Rackspace Hosting

$41.65

$50.48

21.2%

Riverbed Technology

$25.95

$14.92

(42.5%)

Salesforce

$100.93

$178.83

77.2%

AVERAGE RETURN

--

--

16.88%

S&P 500 SPDR

$124.39**

$156.67

25.95%

DIFFERENCE

--

--

(9.07%)

Source: Yahoo! Finance. *Tracking began at market close on Jan. 6, 2012. **Adjusted for dividends and other returns of capital.

Notable newsmakers
Among the other tech stocks making news last week:

  • Facebook said in a blog post that it plans a slow rollout of ads placed directly in News Feeds for those using the desktop app. Mobile users have already been exposed in in-stream ads, which tend to mirror Twitter's "sponsored tweets." The difference here is that the social network plans to use browsing data to help marketers improve their pitches.
  • IDC says tablets are on pace to outsell desktop PCs this year and all PC formats -- including laptops -- by next year. Emerging markets are leading growth, which could be trouble for premium priced Apple products. Dell's mobility business could also take a hit.

What's caught your eye in the tech world? Do you believe Apple will rebound ahead of earnings, or are we in for more losses? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.

Want even more Apple information? Allow me to introduce you to The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, who has the skinny on the various reasons to buy or sell Apple right now. Click here to get his latest thinking on the stock  and what opportunities are left for Apple (and your portfolio) going forward.

This article was originally published as How T-Mobile Could Push Apple to New Highson Fool.com

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