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Network Appliance's Stock Hits the Afterburner

The company's CEO talks big at a CSFB conference, and investors react.

Network Appliance's

(NTAP) - Get Report

stock on Thursday was resuming the parabolic trajectory to which many of its investors have become very well accustomed.

The maker of network-attached storage, or NAS, products has long been one of the market's hottest stocks, gaining more than 1,500% in the past two years. And by noon, Net App was up $10.50, or 10%, to $112.13.

Two traders, holding a total of more than 5 million shares of NTAP between them, said they weren't aware of any big news behind the move. The company didn't immediately return a call for comment.

The most likely explanation for the stock action is bullishness coming out of CEO Dan Warmenhoven's presentation at the

Credit Suisse First Boston Communications Conference

Wednesday. Warmenhoven had claimed that by 2003, the NAS market could be larger than the $6 billion figure that industry analysts have been bandying about this year. In a note this morning, First Boston analyst Amit Chopra wrote that Net App will introduce its next-generation storage filers next week. (First Boston hasn't performed recent underwriting for Network Appliance.)

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Unlike the server-attached storage, or SAS, model, NAS detaches data-storage devices from the servers that run applications for a network's work stations. Net App's boosters say putting storage devices directly on a network helps alleviate bottlenecks and allows technology managers to add new storage capacity easily by attaching additional appliances to the existing network.

Also on Wednesday

Prudential

analyst

Kim Alexy

reiterated her strong buy rating and 12-month target of $135.50. On Tuesday, Net App agreed to acquire privately held

WebManage Technologies

, a developer of content distribution software, for $75 million in stock and cash. (Prudential hasn't performed recent underwriting for Network Appliance.)