View from City Road: Tadpole runs out of steam

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LAUNCHED on the stock market a week ago at 65p each, shares in Tadpole Technology have proved a prince of an investment.

They soared to a peak of 237p yesterday before some long-overdue profit-taking sent them down to 179p - still well above the launch price.

By any standards that is a breathtaking performance. Anyone lucky enough to have bought shares in the placing will have almost tripled their money in next to no time.

True, there is something special about the company - it has developed the world's first workstation computer in the portable 'notebook' format.

With the computer on sale since January, Tadpole not only has a clear technological lead over rivals but also a potential money- spinner on its hands.

This has already been recognised in part by Sun Mircosystems and IBM, two leading workstation makers with whom it has close trading links.

The company's Sparcbook computer runs on Sun's technology and Tadpole is also developing a portable workstation for IBM as part of an agreement which could also give Big Blue a 12 per cent stake in Tadpole.

Small wonder then that the newcomer has been attracting great interest from punters. But the shares have been chased up far enough.

In computers, few companies manage to hold on to a technological edge for long. And Tadpole has made profits only once in its four-year trading history.

The industry is littered with examples of companies that never quite make it to the big time.

Take profits.