You present a statement like "This stock was a relative unknown entity as far as the market was concerned and not until mid 1997..." as if it is a fact. It is not, it is an inference you have made from the data in the chart. That is, it is an opinion.
The Yahoo chart shows that the stock rose 8-fold in the 94-96 rally and 5-fold in the 97-98 rally. This chart shows that volume in early 1996 was higher than in 1997. These are facts.
You see a significance to 1997. I don't. 1997 looks to me like a resumption of the uptrend that started in 1994. These are our opinions, not facts. Anyone else have a view on the significance of 1997?
Sale volume 1993 - $9.1 million; 1994 - $11.1 million; + 22% vs. '93; 1995 - $13.5 million; + 21.6% vs. '94: 1996 - $22.6 million; + 67.5% vs. '95 and 1997 - $40.8 million; + 80% vs. '96. Thus it should be obvious to those that can add, subtract, multiply and divide that until the first two acquistions late in 1996 sales growth and earnings while good by normal standards, it was not until the acquisition binge of '96 and '97 that growth took on a spectacular mode.
More interesting and perhaps something that could be accounting for the similar sideways movements that preceeded this last one is the step down percentage gains shown by the year to year quarterly comparisons. June 30th, 1998 sales gain vs 1997 - plus 168%; Sept. 30, 1998 vs. '97 - plus 74%; 12/31/98 vs. '97 - plus 62%; 3/31/99 vs. '98 - plus 46% and 7/30/99 vs. '98 - plus 37%.
Thus we have seen a steady recession of percentage sales gains from a positive quarterly year to year comparison of a peak at the end of the June quarter, 1998 of 168% to the last comparable gain of 37% as of the last quarterly report. While still impressive it is evident that after the 1997 acquisition the percentage growth trend has been receding. Trends like these are not given to PE multiples that some seem to think the stock is entitled to.
In addition the two significant price moves in the stock, one of which took place in the first half of 1996, fueled by two factors, a 3 for 2 stock split followed by two acquisions and then the MSE acquisition in 1997 which accounted for the bulk of the sales gains reported along with the massive backlog build up. Actually, the background had become relatively stagnant since reaching the $99 million figure back in '97.
But then why deal with real numbers which are available to those who seek them when exotic theories abound to entertain.