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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

Video

  • CNBC's Sharon Epperson shares her outlook on oil, gold, copper and corn next year, and Dan Dicker, MercBloc president, provides his energy forecast for 2013 and the best way to play oil and gas.

  • Defense companies are sure to be affected if we go over the "fiscal cliff" because of automatic spending cuts to the industry, reports CNBC's Jane Wells.

  • CNBC's Simon Hobbs takes a look at some of the major travel trends in 2013.

Previous Predictions

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