Will Web Biggies Spy Spiegel?

Although it has been an Internet player for more than three years, Spiegel (SPGLA), a retailer of clothes and home furnishings, was discovered by certain cyber-investors only in December. Its class-A stock jumped from 3 1/2 in early December to 7 3/16 on Jan. 13. And Spiegel still has a ways to climb, says a strategist for one New York investment bank. The stock could double again. Such a runup is based not only on improving fundamentals, he says. Spiegel is also whispered to be a takeover target: It could be worth 20, according to this pro.

Will Web Biggies Spy Spiegel?

"If a large Internet marketer needs to increase distribution rapidly, Spiegel could make an excellent acquisition," says one California investment manager. Spiegel also owns a bank that issues credit cards--another plus, he adds. With the sky-high price of many Net stocks, he points out, Spiegel could be a cheap buy for an outfit such as Amazon.com.

While Net sales account for a modest percentage of the total, such sales tripled during the recent holiday season. Investment manager Mark Boyar believes Internet sales could hit $300 million, or 10% of the total, in a year. Spiegel posted total sales of $2.6 billion for the year ended Jan. 2, 1999. The company, however, remains in the red.

Spiegel markets its products through mail-order catalogs, four Web sites, and more than 550 retail stores. Spiegel Catalog and its Eddie Bauer unit also offer merchandise on America Online's shopping channel.

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