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O.C. Tech Firm's Stock Price Goes Crazy for a Day

Market: Alpha Microsystems can only guess it's the Internet.

December 01, 1998|JONATHAN GAW | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A stock jumps and you don't know why? Credit the Internet, of course.

Santa Ana-based Alpha Microsystems, a 22-year-old computer services firm, saw its stock soar from $2.25 last week to a 52-week high of $9 a share during Monday's session, before settling back to close at $4.88 on volume that was 17 times the daily average.

Industry analysts and company officials alike had no concrete explanation for the hike, pointing instead to the Internet, which has propelled shares of so many other companies to nosebleed levels.

"There has been no news. We have not put any news out," said Douglas Tullio, president and chief executive of Alpha Microsystems. "I don't have a good answer."

He noted that large Internet stocks "really got pumped up a lot during the last couple of weeks. It seems that all of a sudden they started to fade a little and the interest switched to the smaller Internet stocks."

But even Tullio acknowledged that his company's products and services, although promising, were related only tangentially to high-flying Internet companies such as Amazon.com, EBay Inc. and CDnow Inc. Their shares skyrocketed in the last few weeks, then fell back Monday.

" 'Internet' seems to be a magic word," said John Doss, an analyst with Dominick & Dominick in New York who follows Alpha Microsystems.

The company does have an Internet-related product, a data warehousing technology, but it's related in the same way that a road construction crew is to the automotive industry.

"They've totally downplayed it because they didn't want things to become totally foolish," Doss said. "I think it did become foolish today."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Alpha Roller Coaster

Alpha Microsystems shares endured a volatile day Monday. After opening at $8.69, the price moved as high as $9 during the first hour and was whipsawed back and forth before closing at $4.88. Hourly highs and lows:

*--*

x High Low 9:30-10:30 a.m. $9.00 $4.50 10:30-11:30 8.94 4.50 11:30-12:30 p.m. 8.94 4.94 12:30-1:30 8.91 5.00 1:30-2:30 8.94 5.06 2:30-3:30 8.88 5.00 Closing price $4.88

*--*

Source: Bloomberg News

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