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Ntn: Two Way Tv Hits Prime Time

Inside Wall Street


Over the years, investment adviser John Westergaard, an old-hand on the Street, has shown a keen eye for undiscovered small-cap stocks--mostly in leading-edge technology. One find: NTN Communications, trading over-the-counter at 3 3/8 a share. Westergaard, who heads Westergaard Communications, an investment research firm, sees NTN rocketing to 12 within 18 months.

NTN offers participatory television programming, often referred to as interactive TV, and has developed its own software for such broadcasts. Right now, it airs interactive sports and game-show programs 24 hours a day at subscribing bars and lounges, restaurants, colleges, and even military bases. Viewers respond via a wireless keypad, trade-named Playmaker.

The most popular NTN product is a game called QB1 where viewers predict the outcome of various plays during a live football game for special prizes. It has a renewable five-year license to broadcast all National Football League games. NTN markets hockey and baseball games, which are also based on live broadcasts. The programming is transmitted via satellite. NTN, which also airs trivia quiz shows, is testing interactive TV in 400,000 homes, as well as uses in schools, for home shopping, and for polling.

General Motors and Miller Brewing advertise directly on NTN's programs, adding to the broadcaster's income from subscribers. Westergaard estimates revenues of $10 million in 1992 and $20 million in 1993, with earnings of 20 a share this year and 80 next year, up from last year's sales of $3.8 million and a modest loss.GENE G. MARCIAL

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