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The Giga Is Up

This has to be the most hotly anticipated earnings call since the Internet bubble.

Unless, of course, it's not.

Giga-tronics (GIGA), a tiny producer of test and measurement equipment for the wireless-communications industry, announced late Thursday it would release second-quarter earnings Oct. 30.

The stock surged 46% Friday to a two-year high of $3.76. Volume was 6.7 million shares for a stock that typically trades less than 10,000 shares a day. On Monday, the stock hit an intraday high of $4.27, 69% higher than Thursday, before closing down 15 cents, or 4% to $3.61 on volume of 1.9 million shares.

"On a normal basis, we don't give out any forward-looking information and nothing new has transpired," says Pat Lawlor, Giga-tronics chief financial officer. "I'm glad to see the stock go up, but there's no reason I know of."

It's possible that the San Ramon, Calif., company has done well, but not this well. The word on Wall Street is that day traders and message-board junkies are confused and have mixed up their tickers.

It just so happens a similar-sounding company, GigaMedia (GIGM), received a big boost Thursday when Bear Stearns began coverage of the stock with an outperform rating. On Thursday, GigaMedia's stock jumped 14% to $20.90 on volume of 2 million shares. Its average daily volume appears to be around 500,000 shares.

"It makes sense that it was a mix-up in the ticker," says Lon Juricic, editor of StreetInsider.com, a financial news Web site. "When you have a micro-cap stock that surges on no news, and the day before, a company with a similar name gets a nice boost from Bear Stearns, you can put two and two together."

Giga-tronics is on a bit of an upswing. The company says 70% of its business is government oriented. It sells products that airplane maker Boeing (BA) puts into its planes for the U.S. military.

For the fiscal year ended March 31, it posted a net loss of $1.9 million, or 39 cents a share, double the loss of $988,000, or 20 cents a share, the previous fiscal year. Annual revenue fell 12% to $18.0 million year over year. For its most recent quarter ended June 30, the company returned to profitability, earning $92,000, or 2 cents a share, reversing the year-earlier loss of $1.0 million, or 21 cents a share. Revenue jumped 37% to $4.6 million.

Surprisingly, the day after it announced a real profit, on July 31, the stock gained 20% on volume of just 129,620 shares. Not bad, but not the frenzy of Friday.

CFO Lawlor says the company's trends are positive after restructuring the business over the past year, which included reducing the staff by 20% and closing some facilities.

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