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What Will Surprise Us in 2013?

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Ballmer will be out at Microsoft, and Gates will be back in.

With Windows 8 officially a disaster, and the Surface tablet not close to meeting original internal projections, Steve Ballmer's days at Microsoft in 2013 are...over. The bigger surprise: Chairman Bill Gates returns as interim CEO in a last-ditch effort to do the impossible: re-engineer Microsoft to its former glory. Perhaps the only bright side: To keep investors engaged, Microsoft more than doubles its regular dividend.

Hewlett-Packard splits.

Hewlett-Packard: All the kings horse and all the kings men (and CEO Meg Whitman) realize Hewlett-Packard cannot be put back together again. Before year-end the company is restructured, with the spinoff of its PC and printer business as HP makes a last-ditch effort to be like IBM.

JC Penney shows signs of life.

J.C. Penney, one of my misfired picks from last year, reports positive comp-store sales. Not hard, especially when they have tumbled as far and fast as they have. Penney's turn is blamed for a slide in same-store sales at Macy's and Kohl's.

Companies will go private.

Netflix will not be a public company. Last year I thought it would be acquired. I got it wrong. Sticking with the theme — it will either be acquired or get a private-equity backer to take it private. Best Buy will no longer be a public company, and will start a wholesale store shutdown.

The Jets and Chargers soar.

By year-end the San Diego Chargers and the New York Jets are ranked first and second, respectively, in the AFC — with one team considered a shoo-in to play in the Super Bowl. Wishful thinking? Doesn't matter, but —boy — talk about surprises!


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Best Buy will no longer be a private company. It should, in fact, be no longer a public company.

Looking ahead to 2014

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Previous Predictions

  • CNBC looked ahead to the coming year in key topics – the economy, technology, real estate, and more.

  • CNBC contributors weighed in on what would happen in the year ahead.

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