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Metricom finally back on Wall Street&#039s radar screen

Wireless data services provider Metricom Inc. (Nasdaq: MCOM) shot up 6 1/8, or 17 percent, to 42 1/4 Friday after Lehman Brothers started coverage of the stock with a "buy" recommendation and set a 12-month target price of $76 a share.

Believe it or not, Lehman Brothers now becomes the only brokerage firm following the stock.

In its latest quarter, Metricom lost $16.7 million, or 80 cents a share, on sales of $4.8 million.

There was no First Call consensus estimate because there were no analysts officially tracking the stock.

Lehman decided to bite on the stock after watching it rally up from a low of $4 a share in December to a high of 56 1/2 in July.

Metricom has become more attractive to Wall Street of late thanks to some huge investments from the likes of Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures and MCI WorldCom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM). The pair will invest more than $600 million this quarter, giving Allen a 48 percent stake and MCI WorldCom a 37 percent interest.

Metricom plans to launch its wireless data network in 12 cities by the third quarter of 2000 and 46 by the end of 2001.

In its third quarter, Metricom added 2,800 subscribers during the third quarter, bringing its customer base near 30,000. The company currently offers service in San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. In the third quarter, Metricom gained permission to deploy its Ricochet service in 75 municipalities.