Optical/IP Networks

Net.com Shareholder Digs In

As Network Equipment Technologies Inc. (net.com) (NYSE: NWK) approaches its second-quarter earnings conference call on October 15, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing shows that a long-time investor has increased its stake to become the company's largest shareholder.

Kopp Investment Advisors, with its affiliates, now owns more than 2.5 million shares, about 11 percent of Net.com's stock, according to an SEC filing released Thursday. The Kopp companies held about 1.6 million shares, about a 5.4 percent stake, as of May 1999, SEC filing show.

Kopp has held Net.com shares since the mid 90s, but almost bailed on the company during the last part of its previous management regime. And, while it cheered CEO Bert Whyte's arrival in 1999, it was skeptical that Net.com would be able to catch its competitors.

"Bert was trying to change the tires on a car while his competitors were driving by at 100 miles per hour," says Steven Crowley, executive VP and senior portfolio manager at Kopp Investment Advisors. "We were afraid that they wouldn't be able to catch up, but the downturn in the market actually enabled them to get back in the battle."

Net.com has clearly benefited from having a large number of government customers for its circuit-switched customer premises products (see Net.com Triples Profits). Over time, however, it will have to prove that its IP products can be just as popular with carriers and governments alike. (And it will need to shore up its soccer to defend itself in the event of a Light Reading rematch -- see Light Reading 10 (11?) Net.com 8 (9?)).

Shares of Net.com rose $0.13 (1.24%) to $10.63 in trading on Thursday.

— Phil Harvey, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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