Tuned In To A Comeback Of C Bs

It has not all been plain sailing for Cobra Electronics, a major designer, maker, and wholesaler of such consumer products as cordless phones and radar-detection devices. So its stock has gone nowhere--trading on NASDAQ at 21/2 to 3 since early last year. But some pros who have been buying insist the stock is finally ready to make its move. What's the scoop?

"Cobra will be an easy double this year," says Michael Connor, a hedge-fund manager at Fahnestock, "because its several years in the red will be finally behind it." Cobra lost 70 cents a share on sales of $98 million in 1993. It lost $1.39 on sales of $117 million in 1992.

But "evidence of a meaningful turnaround has showed up in the three most recent quarters," insists Connor. He expects Cobra to be in the black throughout 1994, with earnings of 40 cents a share for the year--considerably more than Value Line's 10 cents estimate. Connor is even more bullish for 1995: He sees Cobra making at least 60 cents.

The big reason behind Cobra's expected snapback, apart from cutting costs and disposing of unprofitable operations, is the resurgence in the appeal of citizens band radios (CBs), which have been its biggest moneymaker.

"Demand for CBs has come back in a big way," notes Jerome Ballan, an investment strategist at Fahnestock. He explains that the surge in popularity of cellular has revived interest in CBs. He argues that CBs are a cheaper way to communicate--for kids and adults alike. "People now find it fun to talk through CBs vs. more expensive cellular phones," says Ballan. Among Cobra's hot sellers are a cordless phone without an antenna called Cobra Intenna and radar and laser detectors called the Cobra Trapshooter.

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