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Quantum

Tape-drive and library leader looks to buy into SAN, NAS arenas

For the time being, Quantum Corp.'s (NYSE: DSS) tape-related businesses are a steady cash cow. But the company knows it needs to add more networking smarts to its product line to get its stunted stock price growing.

A leader in tape drives and tape-automation systems, Quantum says it will look for new opportunities in the network-attached storage and storage-area networking spaces, and will buy its way into these markets if necessary. However, Wall Street analysts covering the firm say such moves may not come quickly.

Many storage-related companies are getting more investor attention in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks (see Late Rally Features Brocade). However, the continued overall IT spending slump -- especially for big-ticket items like tape systems -- is likely to keep Quantum in the Hold or Market Perform section of your local analyst's storage-stock shopping aisle for an indefinite period.

In a report issued in late July, J.P. Morgan & Co. analysts William Lewis and Kerry Rice said they planned to keep their Market Performer rating on Quantum, preferring to "remain on the sidelines until key growth drivers emerge and economic conditions improve." Quantum's stock now trades at around $8 per share, continuing its steady slide from a 52-week high of just above $16 per share, which peaked last November.

While the company can't singlehandedly revive the economy, it does plan to seek new technological areas of revenue, according to Kevin Daly, president of Quantum's enterprise solutions group.

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