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Can Imax disrupt? Add to ...

Disruptive technologies are wonderful to own in stock form. Imagine buying Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. or Google Inc. at the right time of their development, and holding the stocks for the long term as the companies shift the way we approach and use technology.

Investing in today's disruptive technologies is no easy matter, largely because they tend not to sport neon signs. However, Jim Oberweis, an asset manager writing in Forbes (hat tip: The Guru Investor ), has an interesting approach: Look at smaller, more subtle evolutions.

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"I call them landscape changes, and they are creating opportunities for nimble companies," he said.

He pointed to Novatel Wireless Inc., a wireless software company, STEC Inc., a technology company specializing in memory, and AsiaInfo Holdings Inc., a telecom software company.

But he also mentions Canada's Imax Corp., a movie technology company that has been around a long, long time - and has struggled.

Here's what Mr. Oberweis says:

"Digital 3-D is all the rage in the theater business these days, partly in anticipation of the December release of James Cameron's futuristic thriller Avatar. The film may have the best 3-d film graphics to date, and that's good news for Imax. This Canadian firm makes films to be shown on giant screens (29 feet and higher), to which the theater owners sell premium-priced tickets. While Imax has wowed movie viewers for years, it has disappointed investors-until now. Technology is coming to the rescue, with digital film that can be sent out at a cost of $600 per theater (as opposed to $45,000 for celluloid). The result is ultimately going to be an increase in the number of Imax theaters from the present 394 globally (few are Imax-owned). I expect revenue to increase 26 per cent to $172-million and earnings per share to increase to 30 cents over the upcoming year; the shares go for 31 times the latter number."

 

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