Hooked On The Wireless Connection

Wireless is the new buzzword on the Street, and some smart investors have been quick to tune in to the idea, snapping up shares in companies involved in wireless communications technology. This technology uses radio-based systems in transmitting telephone and data signals without the aid of metal wire or fiber-optic cable.

"Digital wireless technologies will generate multibillion-dollar investment opportunities," says analyst Eric Zimits of Volpe Welty, a San Francisco investment firm. Here are Zimits' top three stock picks:

First on his list is Mobile Telecommunication Technologies, a leader in wireless messaging whose SkyTel unit pioneered the nationwide beeper-paging system. Mobile, which has integrated paging with portable computing technology, is developing a two-way beeper messaging network, which, Zimits argues, could become one of the hottest markets in communications. He sees earnings jumping from 25 this year to 60 a share next year and $1 in 1995. Mobile's stock has raced to 24 a share from 15 in February.

Zimits is also high on Paging Network, the nation's largest and fastest-growing provider of paging services, with 2.5 million beepers in 25 states. The company is a low-cost provider and price leader. By 1995, Zimits sees Paging Network covering all the states, and he thinks the stock has yet to reflect the company's "tremendous earnings growth potential," although the company may still be in the red this year and next. Paging's rapid geographic expansion has put pressure on cash flow. But Zimits expects it to be in the black by 1995. In 1996, he sees earnings of $16 million, or 47 a share.

Qualcomm is another of Zimits' "must-buy" stocks. Its CDMA (for control division multiple access) technology--allowing a large number of users to simultaneously get access to a single radio frequency channel--will be used by Bell Atlantic, Pacific Telephone, and U.S. West as the cornerstone of their digital wireless systems. Zimits sees Qualcomm earning 40 a share next year vs. an estimated 12 this year and a 21 loss in 1992.

Furthermore, digital wireless networks are better suited to integrate voice, data, and video traffic, explains Zimits. So he expects cable-television providers, such as Time Warner, to look hard at converting to wireless. David Bednarsh, chairman and CEO of Cellular Group, a Sarasota (Fla.) consulting and management firm, agrees. He says wireless promises to be an alternative provider of more diverse TV and video programming at lower rates.

      Stock             1993  Price   1993 earnings
                        High  Aug. 4  cents per share*
      network             26   24      25 
      Fastest growing 
      company             36   34     -45
      Digital wireless 
      products maker      70   67      12
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