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FINANCE–Recommended Stocks Continue Upward Climb

Southwest Community to Open Business Banking Center in Escondido

The 18 San Diego-based, publicly traded companies recommended by three local professional stock watchers in November 1999 have risen about 90 percent in the three months since then, figures obtained from stock exchanges show.

If someone had purchased one share of each of the stocks recommended in the Nov. 29 edition of the San Diego Business Journal for a total price of $457, not including commissions, those stocks would be worth about $864 as of March 3.

The dramatic price rise is no surprise to Robert P. Chopping of the Edward Jones office at 9728-C Carmel Mountain Road.

“In some cases, I feel it was about time for most of those stocks,” Chopping said.

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Chopping, who recommended Qualcomm, Inc. in an August 1998 Business Journal article when the stock was trading at around $6.75 a share, is very pleased now that the company’s common stock is trading around $128. He said this month he thought Qualcomm was at “a fair price to buy right now.”

He also recommended both Cymer Inc. and ViaSat Inc. in August 1998 and November 1999.

Cymer was trading at around $15.50 a share in August 1998 and at $45 in November 1999. It’s now trading at around $60 a share. ViaSat was trading at approximately $13.75 a share in August 1998 and climbed to $25 a share by November 1999. It’s now at around $90 a share.

Chopping, while he wouldn’t sell ViaSat stock right now, said he would be cautious about buying more.

“ViaSat has signed some great new contracts to build their business, but they are acting like all those other high-tech stocks , they can sell for 100 times their earnings and no one worries about it,” he said.

Chopping has added one more local company to his list of local firms , Titan Corp.

“I think that while it had a good run so far, its food (pasteurization) process is going to take it somewhere better,” Chopping said. “The fact that they also have several other subsidiaries and may be spinning them off later is also going to drive the stock higher.”

Bud Leedom, publisher of the San Diego Stock Report and an analyst with the University Towne Centre office of First Security Van Kasper, recommended Titan in November 1999. It was trading at $22.75 and is now around $39.

“Titan is one of the stocks I have recommended with First Security Van Kasper,” Leedom said. “It’s one of my favorites and I think it is a good story and a good buy right now.”

He also recommended buying Applied Micro Circuits in November 1999 when the stock was trading at approximately $90 a share. It has been trading in the past week at about $268 a share.

“Obviously, Applied Micro Circuits has made a tremendous run, but I don’t think right now is the time to jump into the stock,” Leedom said.

Right now, he thinks Callaway Golf of Carlsbad will do well in the coming year because it is introducing a new high-tech golf ball that will soon dominate the market. Chopping recommended the stock in November 1999 when it was trading around $14.50 a share. Now the price is around $13.68.

Some of the other stocks that were recommended have not moved higher since November. Encad and Rubio’s Restaurants, which were recommended by Leedom, are selling at about the same price as then or lower.

“Encad is just continuing to turn their business around, so I think it is still a good company,” Leedom said. “With Rubio’s, the restaurant industry stock decline is hitting the company hard. But when restaurant stocks make a comeback, I think it will too.”

David Allen of Granite Financial Group in November 1999 recommended the stocks of Pan Pacific Retail Properties Inc., Cohu, Advanced Marketing Services, Jenny Craig and U.S. Laboratories.

Cohu was trading at $24 a share then. It’s currently trading at around $60 a share.

Allen said the market for semiconductors is growing dramatically and will continue to do so for several years. He said Jenny Craig is still going through a reorganization and its stock will be much more valuable in six to 12 months.

“U.S. Laboratories is a small local company. I like its strategy of growing by acquisitions, so I would hang onto that stock,” Allen said.

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Bank Notes: Encinitas-based Southwest Community Bank will open a business banking center March 24 at 1146 W. Valley Parkway in Escondido. Frank Mercardante, the bank’s president, said within 60 days after opening the office will be converted into a full-service bank branch. Santel Federal Credit Union of San Diego has opened a larger Escondido branch office at 962 W. Valley Parkway in Escondido. Robert Horsman, president of San Diego National Bank, has been promoted to CEO by the bank’s board of trustees.


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