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CNT

SAN-over-IP vendor looking to add services to its hardware mix

Knocked down by the recent equipment purchasing slowdown, Computer Network Technology Corp. (CNT) (Nasdaq: CMNT) is like a lot of other boats in the storage networking basin: It's waiting for the tide to rise.

Though longtime shareholders may not be thrilled by CNT's current stock price -- which has bobbed close to the $10 per-share mark since April, down from a high near $40 last November -- most analysts say the company's fundamentals make it a low-risk consideration for new investors to jump on board.

CNT, among the leaders in the nascent storage-over-IP market segment, has a decent product mix, a good stash of cash, and an impressive list of sales partners, including heavyweights EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), which resell CNT's hardware in remote-mirroring and SAN-consolidation implementations. An accelerating focus on SAN services could also lift CNT's ship higher than others, if and when the market for SAN products gets moving again.

Like many of its peers in the networking hardware market, CNT had a terrible first quarter this year, recording revenues of $29.4 million, a dropoff of 24 percent from the same quarter a year ago, and a decrease of 37 percent from the fourth quarter of 2000. Though the company has issued no guidance, news from the current quarter (which closes at the end of July) is expected to be more of the same.

Still, most of the Wall Street analysts following CNT have a Buy recommendation on the stock, citing the company's strong cash and product positions. "We think the current stock price undervalues the operating business," says a report on CNT from analysts Glen Ingalls and Gary Helmig on the Wit Soundview Website. While noting that "upside will likely be limited" due to the current market slowdown, the Wit analysts (who rate the stock a Buy) also note that CNT is currently trading just a few dollars above its cash-per-share figure, limiting investor downside.

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