As tech markets rebounded and the NASDAQ gained nearly 20 percent in 2010, some entrenched IT-serving businesses still managed to take it on the chin.
Analyst Robin Bloor, who lately wrote of market share gains for companies in 2010, used the event to document the biggest losers with market capitalization greater than $5 billion. Acknowledging that the ups and downs of the industry can be fickle, Bloor's list of down-trenders is made up entirely of large entrenched tech companies.
2010's "League of Losers," as documented by the analyst, was led by Adobe with an 18 percent drop in market cap. Bloor pointed at ongoing derision of the company's Flash technology by Apple's Steve Jobs as a reason for flagging investor confidence. That is not an uncommon observation, and Bloor admittedly doesn't bring hard evidence to the Flash controversy. He does suggest that belief in the observation and Apple's share in mobility devices might outweigh truth in investor minds even if the rest of Adobe's portfolio is in good order.
A similar drop was recorded by HP, which dominated headlines with consecutive ugly CEO departures in Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd. Bloor names EMC and Palm as two examples of where HP has failed to make acquisitions work productively so far and predicts worse, despite HP's large cash balance.
The third-worst performance came from another household name in Cisco Systems, but may come from some cyclical effects, Bloor says. He sees no long-term flaws with the business model ad even though growth has flagged, the business is still likely to be respected by investors.
The arrival of Windows 7 and Kinect may have helped Microsoft perform no worse than fourth on Bloor's list, though the software producer did account for an 8.2 percent market cap decline YTD. Bloor says the company is threatened on several fronts by the likes of Google VMware and Apple, and that mobility is a big question mark.
Rounding out the list at number five is chipmaker AMD and a 7.25 percent loss YTD. Bloor says AMD has innovated but had a hard time gaining against the research and deeper pockets of market-leader Intel.
Bloor says he put the list together as something interesting to follow but says 2010 YTD numbers are just one snapshot of company success amid different trends and business cycles.