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How many times have you studied the stock charts of Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) or Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) - and wished you could travel back in time to become an early stage investor in just those sorts of king-making companies?
We can't, of course, but I can offer the next best thing: I can tell you about the brand-new industry where the next stock like this will likely come from.
I'm talking about 3D printing.
Folks who've been following my work know that I've been predicting this sector's emergence for some time. Back in March, I told readers of our sister newsletter Money Morning that 3D printing was a $1 trillion industry in the making. In October, in a note to all of you, I followed up with a roundup report on the newest breakthroughs.
In every piece I've written, my key message was always the same: 3D printing will give tech investors the next real shot at windfall profits.
It's already playing out just as I predicted. But even I was surprised at how much money investors made off this segment last year.
Like the financial markets, the world of technology is moving faster than ever. As I look back over the top tech news stories I covered in 2012, there are four that are so huge they actually keep me up at night. The impact of these breakthroughs could be huge – and so could their payoff...
Who says high-tech stocks have hit the skids?
In a move that bodes well for 2013 stock market, high-tech IPOs have been absolutely on fire in the closing weeks of 2012.
In fact, judging by their gains, high-tech IPOs have soundly beaten the rest of the market’s new issues over the last three months. At least five soared by more than 40%.
Even the IPOs that many market watchers thought would fizzle have jumped out of the box.
The most recent is SolarCity Corp. (Nasdaq: SCTY) which debuted last week.
Instead of landing with a thud, shares of the solar panel installer soared nearly 50% on its first day of trading from a reduced offering price of $8 a share.
That left SolarCity tied for third place among IPO performers in the quarter that ends Dec. 31. Even as of late yesterday, SolarCity shares were still up by 55%.
But SolarCity is just the latest big winner. Here is a look at the other four winning high-tech IPOs based on their closing prices as of last week.
From the depths of the 2009 bottom, the Nasdaq is up 139%, hitting levels it hasn't seen in more than 10 years.
In the last three months alone, the bellwether index is up nearly 19% -- outpacing the 12% gain in the S&P 500.
But here's the thing: It's not all about Apple.
The high-tech IPO market is practically on fire. One of them is Jive Software (NASDAQ: JIVE).
Since Jive debuted last December, shares have jumped 25% from the offering price on the first day.
Since then, the stock has done nothing but power ahead. At the close of trading Thursday, Jive had nearly doubled in less than four months!
Hot High-Tech IPOs are a Major Market TrendBut that is just the beginning. Successful new issues like Jive reflect major trends reshaping markets.
Jive creates tools that help businesses run social networks, clearly an important way for many firms to reach new clients.
Jive is hardly alone. Several high-tech IPOs are showing excellent returns in the market's strong rally.
In fact, this actually is the best overall period for tech stocks since the "dotcom" crash 12 years ago.
Aside from Jive, several other IPOs have turned in double-digit gains in the last several months helping to lead the overall market higher - especially the Nasdaq.
Of course, the Nasdaq still needs another 40% surge to match pre-bubble values. But that's not the point.
Investors need to remember that every bull market contains leaders that have new products in new fields.
That is what always lands solid high-tech IPOs in the winner's circle.
The good news for investors is that they can expect to find more new issues in the weeks ahead.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said in a recent report that 274 firms filed registrations in 2011, the largest number in several years. Of those, about 160 remain in the IPO pipeline.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting you throw a dart at the IPO board. Far from it.
You still have to remain a disciplined, focused investor.
Just think if you'd tied up a lot of funds in BATS Global Markets. The tech-focused exchange had to withdraw its IPO last week because of a software glitch.
Of course, that kind of mistake isn't just stupid. It's inexcusable. But let's not focus on the negative.
There are just too many winners to look at.