It was a spectacular quarter for data center stocks, as investor interest in the growth of cloud computing spurred big gains for providers exhibiting leadership in cloud technologies. Leading players in the colocation and cloud sector saw their shares gain between 24 and 55 percent in the three months ending March 30th, as stock prices were broadly higher.
The big winner was Equinix (EQIX), a colocation provider that has become a key enabler of cloud computing by providing network connectivity through its data center hubs, which bring together dozens of providers in a single location. Shares of Equinix soared 55 percent during the first quarter to $157.45. Equinix stock has doubled in value since October, 2010, when shares sold off sharply over revenue concerns that turned out to be overblown.
Equinix wasn't alone among the data center stocks getting a fast start to the year. Here's a look at the performance of industry stocks in the first quarter of 2012:
By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 8.1 percent, the S&P 500 shot 12 percent higher, and the tech-centric NASDAQ Composite Index surged 19 percent higher.
Among hosting and colocation specialists, Rackspace (RAX), European provider Interxion (INXN) and Internap (INAP) also had strong quarters, gaining between 23 and 35 percent. Both Rackspace and Internap deployed cloud computing services based on Open Stack, the open source cloud platform.
Among the data center REITs, Coresite Realty (COR) led the way with a gain of 32 percent, following on a 24 percent improvement in the previous quarter. Digital Realty (DLR) and DuPont Fabros (DFT) lagged the market slightly.