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A Brisk Trade At Bell Microproducts

BusinessWeek Investor -- Inside Wall Street

A Brisk Trade at Bell Microproducts

The mass-storage business is hot because of the Net, which has driven up shares of the big players--IBM, Seagate Technology, and EMC. Enter the small fry, such as Bell Microproducts (BELM). It trades at 13 1/4, with a market cap of $125 million. And Bell is making money.

"Bell's stock represents a compelling value for investors," says Theodor Kundtz of New York investment firm Needham. As the sixth-largest distributor of computer products, "Bell has a leading presence in the mass-storage business and a solid niche position in a number of semiconductor and peripheral products," says Kundtz. Bell is the country's largest distributor of hard disk drives, he adds, and it should benefit from the fast growth of the high end of the storage market. IBM, Seagate, Maxtor, and Fujitsu are among companies whose wares it sells.

Based on projected results, Bell trades at a discount, says Kundtz. He figures that sales, which hit $1.05 billion in 1999, will jump to $1.5 billion in 2000, and earnings to $13.4 million, or $1.32 a share, up from 98 cents in 1999. Kundtz, who rates Bell a buy, has a 12-month price target for the stock of 22.By Gene G. MarcialReturn to top

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