Navarre Gets Cozy With Linux

Online music, movie and software distributor Navarre (Nasdaq: NAVR) has jumped on the Linux bandwagon. On Wednesday, Navarre announced that it has entered into distribution deals with the four premier publishers of commercial versions of Linux: Caldera Systems, Red Hat Software, SuSe, Inc. and Simon & Schuster Interactive.

“It is Navarre’s intention to play a strategic leadership role in the deployment of Linux and related software to the consumer channel through its business partners,” said Ian Warfield, vice president and general manager of Navarre’s computer products division.

Navarre’s announcement comes one day after Dell Computer raised the profile of Linux by announcing that it would install Red Hat Linux in many of its products including servers and workstations. Dell also announced that it had invested in Red Hat, joining companies including IBM, Oracle, Compaq, Novell, Intel and Netscape.

Navarre Benefits from NetRadio

The move into Linux distribution is adding to the bullishness surrounding Navarre stock, which is also benefiting greatly from the company’s majority ownership of online radio broadcaster NetRadio. NetRadio, which has filed for an initial public offering to raise more than $37 million (US$), features 120 channels of audio content, including music, news and sports.

Yahoo!’s purchase of broadcast.com has raised awareness of all online broadcasters and streaming-media companies, and Navarre stock has gotten a boost, along with stocks like RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK) and AudioHighway.com (Nasdaq: AHWY).

Navarre operates a business-to-business e-commerce site that distributes products, including independent music and DVDs, to traditional retailers as well as smaller stores in the United States and Canada. But the company’s future business may be carried by broadcasting. As NetRadio grows, so will Navarre’s online music store, CDPoint.

Stock Impact

Shares of Navarre closed up 1-3/16 to 15-3/4 after the news about Linux distribution on Thursday. The stock is up fractionally in early trading today.

Navarre has seen a significant run-up in the last two weeks. It was trading at less than $12 early last week, before the broadcast.com deal helped carry the stock.

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