At Symbol, More Than Meets the Eye

Symbol Technologies (SBL ), which makes portable bar-code scanners, is by no means on Easy Street. Overall info-tech spending is on the skids, and the Securities & Exchange Commission is looking into some of Symbol's revenue-recognition practices. So why has the company reappeared on certain pros' radar screens? "The worst is likely behind it," says Scot Ciccarelli of investment firm Gerard Klauer Mattison, who has upgraded his rating from "outperform" to "buy," with a 12-month target of 14. The stock is now at 9.

"It's not easy to upgrade this stock, given the slump in IT spending and the bearish tones of the market," says Ciccarelli (who doesn't own shares). "But Symbol's technology and strategy remain sound," he says, and insiders have been buying--even after the SEC probe started. "That tells me," he says, "that management isn't too concerned about its accounting." Symbol posted "very solid" second-quarter results, he notes. The company may already have hit its low, with fundamentals on the mend and with the hiring of ex-Cisco Systems executive Bill Nuti as president and COO--a good thing, says Gallo, who sees Symbol earning 22 cents a share in 2002 and 50 cents in 2003, vs. 2001's 26 cents. (He doesn't own shares.)

Nissim Aboodi, president of money-manager Questrion, who owns Symbol shares, doubts the SEC probe will impair Symbol's balance sheet, affecting only certain quarters in 2000 and 2001. In the meantime, he notes that Symbol's markets are expanding to the health-care field.

By Gene G. Marcial

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