What's Whipping Up Wind River

Ever heard of Wind River Systems (WIND)? No, it's nothing to do with rivers. This is one technology company that Street analysts don't follow. Despite that, its stock is racheting up quite nicely, from 24 in late January to 35 on Apr. 24. Some pros snapping up shares think they could go much higher.

What's hot about Wind River? Its products are catching fire. Wind River makes software tools that let customers--such as Ford, Hitachi, and Hewlett-Packard--create software applications on their computer systems.

Its flagship product, VxWorks, introduced in 1987, has become the standard in "embedded" real-time systems, says President and CEO Ronald Abelmann. That has become part of an even more sophisticated product called Tornado Development Environment, a tool that enables software developers to create applications on their wide area networks, regardless of what system they are operating on. One San Francisco money manager says Tornado has allowed Wind River to penetrate the Microsoft Windows personal-computer-based market. Sales to Windows users over the past three months have exceeded Wind River's expectations.

Wind River has alliances with such semiconductor companies as Siemens, Intel, and Motorola. "Large customers are making strong commitments to Wind River and its new product architecture, Tornado," notes Peter Schleider, an analyst at Wessels, Arnold & Henderson who rates the stock an "aggressive buy." He figures Wind will make 74 cents a share this year and $1 next, up from 52 cents last year.

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