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@Home shares jump to 52-week high

@Home Network shares push past a 52-week high amid anticipation of a deal between the company and small and mid-sized cable operators.

Stock in the @Home Network closed at a 52-week high today amid anticipation of a deal between the company and small and mid-sized cable operators.

Most Internet stocks also got a boost from a buying frenzy on Wall Street after buyout talks surfaced between America Online and Netscape Communications.

@Home, a high-speed cable Net access company, is expected to announce a new joint venture next month with small- and medium-sized cable companies to provide Internet access to cable customers in lesser populated regions, an executive said.

The company source said the new business would be a "turn-key solution" with "strategic investors." The new offering is expected to be an all-in-one package which could involve @Home providing cable modem hardware in addition to its fast Internet-over-cable service.

A detailed announcement is slated to come at The Western Show, an annual cable television trade show sponsored by the California Cable Television Association, in early December.

Shares in @Home jumped 6.9375, an increase of more than 13 percent, to finish at 59. Shares have traded as high as 57.25 and as low as 18.3125 in the past 52 weeks. The stock was up as high as 61.75 earlier in the day.

@Home already has agreements with 19 of the top cable operators including Tele-Communications Incorporated, Comcast, and Cox Communications. But a deal with smaller cable operators would allow @Home to continue expanding its potential customer base.

"It's a natural progression of the way I'd expect them to do business," said Ted Henderson, an analyst at Janco Partners. "From [@Home's] perspective, distribution is king, so how do they get into the home?"

Meanwhile, SoftNet Systems said today it would acquire Intellicom to provide high-speed Internet service via satellite to customers of small and mid-sized cable systems.

Stock in SoftNet closed more than 6 percent lower at 16.75. Shares have traded as high as 19.625 and as low as 5.5625 in the past year.