) is a maker of Net traffic-management gear, operating in the shadow of giants Cisco Systems (CSCO
) and and Nortel Networks (NT
). Yet tiny Radware's stock has handily matched larger rivals, zooming from 10 in April to 21.31 on Oct. 8. Radware systems let users optimize performance of servers, security devices, and Net applications. Steve Kamman of CIBC World Markets notes that, during the tech bust, Radware went after a small niche market -- providing sophisticated clients with customized services that brought higher fees. Kamman says this will boost earnings, helped by a rise in both repeat and new customers. Kamman, who rates the stock "outperform," says Radware has $130 million, or $7.50 a share, in cash, and no debt. Repeat customers (45% of sales) include Fannie Mae (FNM
) and Verizon (VZ
). Among new clients (55% of sales) are Total (TOT
) and Japan Airlines. Mark Sue of C.E. Unterberg Towbin, which has done banking for Radware, says a "broadening pipeline" of application switches bodes well for third- and fourth-quarter earnings. So despite Radware's high p-e, Sue rates it a buy based, in part, on "solid visibility" of earnings ahead -- 31 cents a share in 2003 and 52 cents in 2004, vs. a loss in 2002.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them. By Gene G. Marcial