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Goldman Sachs Conference: Big Crush

The event draws apparently one and all, plus when Compaq speaks, everyone listens.

The scene at the Goldman Sachs Technology Investment Symposium closely resembles another New York phenom, replayed every night outside Soho's velvet-rope lounges. The much ballyhooed conference, which started Tuesday in New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel, is packed to the rafters. And outside the conference-room doors, exasperated money managers huddle like expectant club patrons, literally straining to hear anything.

"You know what's a sign of a market top? It's when there are 100 people standing outside the


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presentation," says one West Coast-based money manager, who requested anonymity. "There are too many people in technology," grumbled another as he walked away from an overcrowded room to listen to, of all companies,


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, a packed house listened quietly as CFO Earl Mason spelled out some 1999 financial guidelines. It wasn't riveting, but analysts ate it up. "I think the fact that Compaq is comfortable with some pretty aggressive revenue estimates is evidence that they have turned things around," says a money manager, who requested anonymity because he plans on buying as much of the stock as he can. Mason said he was comfortable with 1999 annual revenue estimates of $43.5 billion, up dramatically from $31 billion in 1998.

Using new buzzwords, Mason says that what was formerly a PC company is now an enterprise outfit. He sees substantial upside to the company's server and storage businesses. Currently, Compaq sells about $15 million a day online. "Stay tuned to watch us grow


with new shopping and e-commerce alternatives," pitched Mason. (For the record, Mason pronounced the soon-to-be portal Altaveesta, not Altavista.)