Apple has been the story in U.S. tech this year. The stock is up nearly 64 percent year-to-date, helping lead the sector to a 19 percent gain versus an 11 percent rise for the broader S&P 500.
But beyond Apple , a number of big tech companies have been quietly outperforming as they ride three major trends in enterprise IT — mobile, cloud-computing \(learn more\)and “big data.”
Given all the economic uncertainty around the world, big companies are looking for ways to cut costs and operate more effectively, Bill McDermott, SAP’s co-CEO, told CNBC on Thursday. “At the end of the day, if you have a solution that gives (companies) a good return, they’ll invest,” he said.
This trend is even holding true in Europe where the German business software company was able to grow earnings 25 percent year-over-year in the second quarter. “Germany which is our most mature market grew solid double-digits for several quarters in a row now,” he noted. (Read More: .)
McDermott said SAP’s been able to turbo-charge its core business applications and analytics product offering with new mobile, cloud and big data solutions. Those new business will grow triple digits, McDermott said.
Companies want to “restructure their business in the cloud to take costs out of the equation wherever they can,” McDermott said. “And they want to innovate with mobile application to reach their consumers so they can make more money and keep their customers more loyal.”
He added, “The big data comes in by understanding what's really in these systems.” (Read More: Why ‘Big Data’ Is a Big Deal: IBM Executive.)
Companies like Oracle, Salesforce.com and Teradata have also been riding these three trends this year.
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Salesforce.com, for instance, is moving into the social aspect of cloud computing, Joel Fishbein, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, told CNBC on Friday, after the company posted better-than-expected results for the latest quarter on a 38 percent increase in revenue.
“The fact that they are handling 10 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue is a sign of things to come,” Fishbein said. “We’re going to see that continue to show not only top-line acceleration but it is going to bring some significant profits to the company probably in the mid-point of next year.”
Even though Salesforce.com's stock is up nearly 45 percent this year, Fishbein has a 12-month price target of $200 on the stock, implying another 36 percent potential upside. (Disclosure: Lazard Capital Markets makes a market in Salesforce.com securities.)
Dell and Hewlett-Packard have fared much worse, down 22 percent and 32 percent this year, respectively, as they struggle to get consumers to upgrade their old notebooks instead of splashing out on a new tablet or smartphone.
But if the recent outperformance of some of the enterprise IT names looks to be overdone, at least one analyst sees a significant rally in H-P shares coming. (Read More: Analyst Sees 75% Upside for Tech Turnaround Stock.)
Shaw Wu, senior technology analyst at Sterne Agee, said H-P has all the elements needed for a successful turnaround — an installed customer base, a growth plan and a solid balance sheet. His price target of $31 suggests the stock could pop 75 percent. But turning a company of H-P's size around could be a long-term proposition.