Byron Capital’s Tom Astle: Avigilon is my choice for TSX Tech of the Year

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After zooming in to take a look at Avigilon's notable first full year as a public entity, Byron Capital's Tom Astle says the Vancouver company is his choice for Canadian Tech Stock of the Year.

After zooming in to take a look at Avigilon’s notable first full year as a public entity, Byron Capital’s Tom Astle says the Vancouver company is his choice for Canadian Tech Stock of the Year.

After wrapping up the nominations for the TSX Venture catgeories, today we move on to our judge’s nominations for TSX Tech Stock of the Year and Tech Stock Exec of the Year.

Last year featured an exciting race between two peers -some would say rivals – MOSAID and Wi-LAN -with the companies splitting the awards as Jim Skippen took home Cantech Letter’s 2012 Tech Exec of the Year.

This year, there’s a lot to choose from, with late runs from small companies like Redknee and Guestlogix, and a changing at the guard at the top with Catamaran and CGI Group both having held the title of Canada’s most valuable as Research in Motion endured another difficult year, excepting its recent rebound.

This morning, we look at the big board choices Byron Capital’s Head of Research, Tom Astle. …

Tom Astle, 2012 Canadian Tech Stock of the Year

1. Avigilon (TSX:AVO) I can’t argue with a year-to-date return on about 180%. That’s almost twice the return of any other tech stock we track. We don’t track the name that closely, but it has certainly executed well in its niche of high definition of video surveillance systems. It’s also great to see a tech name go from IPO to mid-cap status in the space of about 2 years. We need more of these!

2. Redline Communications (TSX:RDL) Once this was one of the biggest dogs in the sector, but new management re-invented the company and its stock has almost doubled this year. It’s emerging focus on wireless broadband communications in “Smart Oil-fields” is really starting to pay off and hard work by the management team has fixed the balance sheet.

3. Redknee (TSX:RKN) Redknee (we like the Red names!), has slowly been building its business in Service Provider IT systems over the years, but this year it saw a nice pick up in bookings and really stepped up to the plate this month by BOLDLY buying the BSS systems of Nokia Siemens which looks like it will triple the size of the business. We may now have a major global player in this space to track! Stock is up about 70% YTD.

Tom Astle, 2012 Canadian Tech Exec of the Year

1. Eric Melka, Redline – He did this the hard way. Starting with a company in big trouble (failing end markets, bad financials, shareholder lawsuits, etc), he had to completely change out management, re-vector the wireless technology from WiMAX to proprietary specialized systems, enter new markets like oil and gas, refinance the company, clean up the financials and solidify the balance sheet. Whew! Makes me tired just writing about it, but as a result we now have a really exciting niche-focused wireless technology company with strong gross margins and strong growth prospects.

2. Thorsten Heins, Research in Motion – YES, that’s right the RIM CEO. He still has a massive job in front of him, but already the big ship is starting to right itself under his navigation. For the first time in years we haven’t seen a big delay in six months for the new products and carriers and beta users look to be pleased with the BB10 early devices. If RIM doesn’t follow Nortel into the abyss, then we will have big Thor to thank for it.

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