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Reason to keep an eye on Keane?

Two of the company's top executives, John Jr. and Brian Keane, recently bought an unusually large number of shares in the company's stock, says an insider trading analyst.

Investors may want to keep a keen eye on IT services consulting firm Keane.

Two of the company's top executives, John Jr. and Brian Keane, recently bought an unusually large number of shares in the company's stock, said Craig Columbus, an insider trading analyst with Disclosure.

John Jr. Keane, an executive vice president and member of the office of the president, purchased 25,000 shares at 19.750 on April 14. And his brother Brian, also an executive vice president and member of the president's office, purchased 40,000 shares at $20.10 on April 19.

"It's rare to see this level of insider buying in the high-tech industry and even rarer still in Keane," Columbus said. "This is the first significant level of insider buying in Keane since November 1997."

He added that Brian Keane, in particular, has a "good track record" of buying and selling the company's stock.

For example, when Keane made his last purchase in November 1997, the stock had hit a trough and was trading around 26 a share. But the stock regained its momentum to climb to a historical high of nearly 61 a share in July 1998. Brian Keane sold some of his holdings the following month when the stock was trading around 56, Columbus noted.

John Jr. and Brian Keane were not available for comment.

But as the year progressed, a number of companies that specialize in addressing Y2K problems saw their stock price fall as investors became nervous on how these businesses would fare post Year 2000.

The brothers' latest buying round came one day before and a few days after the company announced April 15 that it was lowering its fiscal 1999 earnings outlook. The company estimated its earnings would range between $1.68 to $1.75 a share, while Wall Street had been projecting the company to come at $1.82 a share.

The company, which saw its stock drop 14 percent after the announcement, said the revised estimates depended on such factors as the rate of decline in its core Year 2000 business, growth in its non-Y2K operations, and the economy.

"The stock seems to have hit the bottom, as the company moves into its new transition," Columbus said. "Keane has done a good job at diversifying its business."