The Investment Column: BATM

SHARES in BATM Advanced Communications - reputedly a stock discovered by Friends Ivory's smaller companies team - have grown in value nearly 20 times this year. The risk of taking profits now is that this may be just the beginning.

BATM sells some of the world's fastest telecoms and Internet switching devices. Analysts put the market in the trillions. With BATM's technology world-beating, the question is whether it develops a brand of its own or is bought by one of its multinational customers.

Full-year profit forecasts for this year are a measly $5m (pounds 3m). Next year, however, BATM is expected to deliver a quantum leap as it brings out upgraded technology. Lucent of the US has a share of the switches market worth pounds 36bn and has entrenched customer relationships. Surely BATM is a snip for Lucent - or IBM - at its present value of pounds 802m. Investors should not be surprised to see the shares climb further, though perhaps by five times rather than 20.