Spielberg's Secret Weapon

Want a play on Jurassic Park? Some pros are riding the movie's success by buying shares of Softimage, a leading provider of 3-D animation software to video- and filmmakers. Its flagship product, Creative Environment, was used to animate the dinosaurs in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster.

"The stock has yet to reflect the company's prospects in animation," says portfolio manager and analyst Charles Finnie of San Francisco's Volpe Welty. Softimage's products let filmmakers, broadcasters, and graphic artists create high-quality 3-D imagery. But until recently, the company couldn't talk about its major role in Jurassic Park because of a nondisclosure agreement with Industrial Light & Magic, the George Lucas special-effects studio. The pact has now expired.Finnie says 3-D animation is currently just a small part of the $3 billion film market. So Softimage is also targeting videogame makers, which have yet to embrace 3-D.

So far, the Montreal-based company has been growing nicely. Sales are expected to jump from last year's $14 million to an estimated $28 million for the year ending Oct. 30, 1993, and to $45 million in fiscal 1994. Finnie also sees profits rising fast, to 71 a share this year and $1.10 next year, vs. 1992's 60 . The stock, now at 19, should hit the mid-30s in a year, he says.

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