Silicon Saturday - TheStreet

A selection of some of the most intriguing tech stock ideas on the Web


Fab Future


Michael Murphy, money manager and publisher of the

California Technology Stock Letter

, says "the Street is wrong" in its evaluation of the market for semiconductors this year. Wall Street, he writes in a


magazine column, "predicts domestic shipments will be sharply down this year."

But, this time it's different, he says. Past downturns resulted from recessions. Now, Murphy says "demand for end-user products was up across the board last year," and with new chipmaking technology now available, "chipmakers can't hold off on increasing capacity." Who benefits? The semiconductor equipment manufacturers -- which, he says, can expect "a slightly up 1997 and a booming 1998."

Recommended plays: The core holding is

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Report

, described by Murphy as "the largest supplier with the broadest product line." Other choices include

Mattson Technology



Plasma & Materials


(etching technology),

OnTrak Systems


(wafer cleaning) and




More information can be found at


Just a Little Rough Water

The Wellington Letter

Investing in technology stocks is requiring more study and precision, according to the editor of Honolulu's

The Wellington Letter

. The newsletter's publisher, Bert Dohmen, says he is "encouraged with the selectivity of the technology sector decline. A number of stocks look strong, and actually are in good up trends. My analysis tells me that this is merely a pullback, or a shallow correction, rather than a start of something much worse."

His advice to those investors who are confident: "There is still plenty of money on the sidelines. Once the pullback is over, the market will come roaring back to new record highs."

More information can be found at


No to NetTV

Red Herring

It's "been there, done that" for David Simons, managing director of

Digital Video Investments

. About a decade ago, Simons was promoting Videotext, which, like the Net, was promoted as


device that would bring you all the news, sports scores and entertainment information you could ever want "on a TV set near you." In an interview with

Red Herring

magazine, Simons explains why Videotext didn't work, why he believes NetTV won't work and, generally, why he isn't very positive about any of the four dozen stocks in his firm's own interactive index.

"The deadliest words in the interactive business are: 'With the simple addition of a set-top decoder,' " he believes. Consumers, he notes, have shown "a remarkable resistance to multiple boxes." Furthermore, he just doesn't think a TV set is a good stage for the essentially "intimate nature" of the Web experience.

Simons also tells


writer Jonathan Burke you can't ignore the fact that the same $20 a month for Net access would get you a month's worth of video rentals or two premium cable channels. Simons does like some high-tech stocks, but not those of the Net. One he likes is



, manufacturer of electronic test equipment, which he feels has a great future as telecommunications goes digital.

More information can be found at


Catching the Football

U.S. Investment Report

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Report

is not a stock for every investor. To put it mildly, volatility seems engineered into the company's share price. In the past few years, MU shares have been as low as 10, as high as 80. In the past 52 weeks, they have bounced between 16 and 42.

Who needs this?

And why would a newsletter editor "waste" his time trying to figure out a stock that has clearly indicated it's got a mind of its own? Stephen Quickel, editor of

U.S. Investment Report

, has a simple answer. It's cheap.

Although he does agree Micron has "become a NYSE football," the fact, he says, that sales are expected to decline as much as 15% this year is a positive. That should scare off the novice investors, just as earnings will increase over the next few years. "We see real value in MU for the investor who is willing to endure the daily fallout from its high market visibility."

More information can be found at


By Frank Barnako
Special to

The Street