Is Saba All Set to Be Swallowed?

Most tech stocks have yet to recover from last year's tech wreck--and from September 11. Saba Software (SABA ) is one of them: Trading as high as 21 a year ago, the shares dived to 10 by mid-August, 2001, and then tumbled to 3.69 on Feb. 20, 2002. But several analysts remain bulls on Saba in the belief that it has hit bottom--and could attract a buyer at its knocked-down price. One California hedge-fund manager who has been snapping up shares is convinced that either IBM or PeopleSoft, which designs software for managing customer relationships, will end up buying Saba. Saba provides software to help corporations and governments boost performance of their personnel and cut costs through Web-based training and education.

Analyst Natalie Walrond of San Francisco's Pacific Growth Equities says Saba has an "impressive client base"--including Cisco Systems, General Motors, and Citigroup--that gives it "powerful industry leadership." She expects Saba to turn a profit in fiscal 2003 ending Feb. 28 of 12 cents a share on revenues of $60.9 million. In fiscal 2002, it lost 24 cents on revenues of $52.8 million. PeopleSoft has talked about getting into the business that Saba dominates. Saba is worth more than 10 a share in a buyout, says the hedge-fund manager. But he believes Saba won't sell unless the price is much higher. IBM declined comment. Saba investor Relations Officer Greg Kablen won't comment on IBM or PeopleSoft. But he says there's enormous interest among enterprise software companies to form partnerships with Saba.

By Gene G. Marcial

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