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Micron Technology, National Semiconductor, VeriSign and Affymetrix

A selection of some of the most intriguing tech stock ideas on the Web. The items presented do not represent the views of

; rather, the collection is offered as a service to our members who may be scanning the Web for stock-related information.

Micron Technology

Online Investor

Things are finally looking up for DRAM chip prices, and that could make

Micron Technology

(MU) - Get Micron Technology, Inc. Report

a timely buy, according to

Online Investor

. Shrinking supply and increased demand for the memory chips have led prices back from last year's collapse, and Micron's stock price has followed suit. It's up more than 30% since the beginning of the year. "We believe semiconductor stocks will outperform the S&P 500 in 1998," predicts

NationsBanc Montgomery

senior research analyst Jonathan Joseph.

The Asian economic crisis means Micron's Korean competitors don't have the means to add capacity. And there are signs that Korean manufacturers are through dumping inventory at fire-sale prices to get U.S. dollars.

But Micron isn't out of the woods. There are fears that a U.S. bailout will prop up Korean DRAM plants. And a faster-than-expected shift to 64-meg chips could leave Micron the dominant player in a dying 16-meg market.

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National Semiconductor

Adam Lashinsky

The prospects aren't as bright for another chip stock,

National Semiconductor



San Jose Mercury News

columnist Adam Lashinsky finds it hard to swallow National Semiconductor's bullish outlook given the recent announcement that earnings would disappoint for the third quarter ending March 1.

The stock plunged 16% to 23 1/2 after the announcement. After the drop, CFO Don Macleod told analysts the 1998 outlook remained the same. Part of National Semiconductor's problems are related to the Asian economic crises, but the bigger concern is with newly acquired


. The chip maker's processors aren't running fast enough for major customer



. "Not exactly a customer one wants to disappoint," says Lashinsky.

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Steve Harmon


(VRSN:Nasdaq) highflying IPO last week was reminiscent of






. Offered at 14, it closed Friday at 27 7/8.

Is it worth its big multiple? There are some powerful arguments in favor of the question. Among the heavyweights lined up behind VeriSign's digital certificates for enabling secure Internet commerce:


(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report


British Telecommunications




(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report



. And many believe that, over time, hundreds of millions of digital certificates will be issued and managed.

However, investment analyst Steve Harmon harbors some doubts about the need for such complex digital verficiation systems. Billions of dollars of commerce are conducted via telephone everyday with no verification system in place. "Call in and use your credit card number, two complete strangers do the transaction. Done." So is VeriSign worth its high multiple? "Awaiting verification," he says, skeptically.

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George Stasen



is a developer of


technology for analyzing and managing complex genetic information. This technology promises, among other things, to detect mutations in HIV that make the virus resistant to AIDS drugs.

The company has an agreement with



to develop and manufacture instruments to read its GeneChips and ventures with a variety of respected pharmaceutical and biotech companies to develop and market various products.

Medical and technology stock specialist George Stasen calls Affymetrix "a company bursting forth on the gene therapy scene in a commanding way," with positions in three distinct markets: clinical diagnostics, biomedical research and genomics.

Affymetrix's stock is trading around 30, down from the low 40s last October, a slide Stasen attributes to "a correction of excessive exuberance." According to Stasen, the promise of Affymetrix's unique technology is reason for that exuberance to resume.

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