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Odetics, Digital to Produce Data Retrieval System : Automation: Anaheim-based firm will make robotic arms to access a cartridge library manufactured by the computer products giant. The announcement boosted the local company's stock.


ANAHEIM — Odetics Inc. said Thursday that it has formed a partnership with Digital Equipment Corp. that will bring together the best automated tape library products of each of the two companies.

News of the Anaheim technology company's link with Digital, a major provider of networked computer systems, software and peripherals, gave Odetics' stock a big boost on Wall Street. It gained $1.875 a share to close at $10 in Thursday's trading on the American Stock Exchange.

Odetics, through its ATL Products subsidiary, will make the robotic arms that retrieve data cartridges from a library and transport them. Digital will use the arms in its tape storage machines that it hopes to sell primarily to users of medium-size computers.

The companies say the result will be something like a Wurlitzer. Instead of spinning records, however, this jukebox will access units of computerized information.

The agreement is particularly encouraging for Odetics because it appears to support the company's strategy of moving increasingly into production of components for automated tape library products.

"It basically validated this business they are moving into," said William Gibson, an analyst for the brokerage Cruttenden & Co. in Santa Barbara. "These tape libraries have been in the mainframe market, and now what you're seeing is they are just entering the mid range."

Gibson said Odetics appears poised to grow rapidly with its thrust into automated tape library systems, perhaps nearly tripling its revenue over the next two years. For its fiscal year ended March 31, Odetics posted a profit of $141,000, a 58% increase from the previous 12 months. Annual sales were $69.3 million, off 1%.

Digital, based in Maynard, Mass., had 1992 revenue of $13.9 billion.

ATL President Kevin Daly said in a statement: "The industry is clearly moving toward tape automation, and we are working with Digital to meet both the current and future needs of the mid-range computer market."

Odetics at a Glance:

* Business: Robotics and information systems

* Headquarters: Anaheim

* CEO: Joel Slutzky

* 1993 revenue: $69.3 million

* 1993 profit: $141,000

Source: Bloomberg Business News

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