General Magic rockets on Excite At Home deal

General Magic Inc., (Nasdaq: GMGC) rocketed 1 1/8, or 30 percent, up to 4 15/16 in early trading Friday on reports that Excite At Home Corp. (Nasdaq: ATHM) will use its primary product, Portico, to deliver free voice mail to users of its Web site.

The news, reported in Friday's Wall Street Journal, suggested the deal could help General Magic's struggling business. The company reported a larger-than-expected fourth-quarter loss of 51 cents a share on revenue of $126,000 in March. Its stock, which hit a 52-week-high of $15 3/8, has been hovering around $5 for months

The speech-recognition technology offered by General Magic allows for unified messaging, which gives users the ability to collect all their messages in one place, such as an e-mail box, Web page or over the telephone. The services haven't gained widespread use yet because they have been expensive and difficult to use. Portico's service, currently costs users an average of $17 to $100 a month, but is being tested by Qwest Communications (Nasdaq: QWST) among others.

Similar services are offered by lesser known start-ups such as OneBox.com Inc., San Mateo, Calif.; Telebot Corp., San Francisco; and uReach.com Inc., Holmdel, N.J. General Magic and Excite are scheduled to make an announcement about the service Monday.

Excite at Home was also up 7/8 to 52 3/16 in morning trading.