The Exchange

5 Top Stocks of the First Quarter

The Exchange

Editors Note: The list of top stocks is derived from the quote pages that received the most views on Yahoo! Finance by examining data for the first quarter. It is not, however, a list of the most searched-for company names on our site.

1. Apple (AAPL)
It’s been anything but a good first quarter for (former?) tech darling Apple, and the year got off to a rocky start. January started with a Wall Street Journal report that Apple had slashed orders for iPhone 5 parts by half.

Ultimately, the first quarter may have been the one in which Apple investors were forced to come to grips with what the loss of Steve Jobs really means. The undelivered promise of breathtaking products has been ever present, while reports of new watches and TVs came and went. Something new needs to come to fruition, but has been nowhere in sight.

“Jobs time has passed and Apple is looking disturbingly like it's being run by MBA's,” Breakout’s Jeff Macke noted on Jan 7.

“Under Steve Jobs, Apple released magic and backed into margin through great execution. Now the man who drove that efficiency, former COO and now CEO Tim Cook, is running the whole company and seems to be doing it exactly as one would expect. The magic is gone, replaced by a focus on margins and old products in new colors.”

A round of downgrades came flooding in after the company reported earnings in late January, revealing weakness in holiday sales.

Regulatory filings showed a who’s who of the Street’s biggest hedge funds soured on the stock as well. In February, David Einhorn, founder of the hedge fund Greenlight Capital, filed suit against Apple for not doing enough to unlock shareholder value by offering preferred shares.

Shares are now down 35% from a September high of $702 and down 17.6% year-to-date.

2. Facebook (FB)

Facebook kicked off 2013 with a massively hyped event to unveil a new product -- graph search. At the unveil in mid-January, CEO Mark Zuckerberg described graph search as Facebook’s third pillar to the site's news feed and timeline features. In essence, graph search is the company’s play to keep user within the friendly confines of Facebook to obtain information about everything from movies to restaurants.

Graph search was largely met with a “meh” from investors. Things didn’t get better when the company announced earnings two weeks later. While results were better than expected, there wasn’t enough there to supercharge the bulls or the bears.

"There's nothing to get that excited about. It's not a howling sell or buy. I think the volatility is more of a concern," Breakout’s Jeff Macke said following the results.

Shares have failed to regain their IPO level and have fallen steadily since announcing earnings in late January. The stock has lost 6.8% for the year to date, closing at $26.09 on Wednesday.

3. Bank of America (BAC)

Brian Moynihan’s bid to bring the nation’s second-biggest bank back into favor gained ground throughout the first quarter. It's been a costly and grinding endeavor. Cleaning up the takeover of Countrywide Financial has cost some $40 billion, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

This week, Atlantic Equities analyst Richard Staite said a rebound in the housing market could drive massive gains. The bank easily passed the Federal Reserve’s stress tests this year and also received approval for a $5 billion buyback.

While it’s getting back to solid footing, the fact that BofA, along with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) are bigger today than they were in 2007 is giving many pause.

Republican Congressman John Campbell of California has introduced his own bill to deal with too big to fail institutions. Its purpose: to protect the banking system while eliminating the implicit guarantee of a government bailout paid for by taxpayers.

"We have to allow a Bank of America, a Wells Fargo or JPMorgan to fail, not use taxpayer money and still allow the system to continue,” Campbell told The Daily Ticker in February.

“That’s what this bill is designed to do.”

Shares are up 1.6% for the year to date, closing at $12.23 on Wednesday.

4. MagicJack VocalTec (CALL)

MagicJack has been a surprise entry on our list of top-viewed ticker pages, as the stock has been embroiled in controversy since the year began.

It’s been a difficult year for MagicJack so far. A Seeking Alpha blog post that ran in early January accused the company of improper accounting to boost profits.

Said a Bloomberg report:

“MagicJack, which sells voice-over-Internet services, dropped after a Jan. 8 blog post on the Seeking Alpha website attributed to 'Copperfield Research' said the company used “accounting gimmicks” to boost profits and that the ex-CEO used his common equity on margin as collateral for debt. Borislow, who relinquished his post to Gerald Vento on Jan. 1, said the post was 'clear and utter lies,' in a phone interview yesterday from West Palm Beach, Florida.”

Since that time, a string of lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed against the company. In late March, the company announced it had received a filing extension for its 10-K report. The announcement also stated the delayed results had nothing to do with "earlier unsubstantiated web postings or threats of litigation."

According to The Motley Fool, the company is expected to turn a profit this quarter, with revenues expected to increase 46.5%.

Shares have fallen 25% for the quarter, closing at $13.94 on Wednesday.

5. Nokia (NOK)

While BlackBerry (BBRY) was busy hyping its last best hope Z10 smartphone, competitor Nokia has been quietly capturing more of our readers’ attention.

The stock captured some buzz early in the quarter after earnings were announced. Investors focused particularly on shipments of Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones, which skyrocketed to 4.4 million during the fourth quarter.

Jon Najarian, co-founder of OptionMonster.com came out in Nokia’s corner in a recent segment of Breakout. According to Najarian, institutions still have only an 11% stake in the shares compared to 80% for other handset makers. Najarian thinks Nokia will find large institutional buyers if the stock gets a foothold over $5.

And while Nokia’s phones aren’t likely to challenge the iPhone, Najarian believes they’re good enough to keep the company viable. That said, it can’t hurt to have your CEO throw a talk-show host’s iPhone across the studio on live TV either

Despite the interest and some positive chatter, Nokia’s performance has continued to struggle. Shares are down nearly 19% for the year to date, closing at $3.34 on Wednesday.

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