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What to buy: Rudolph Technologies or Pfizer — Malcolm Berko

Dear Mr. Berko: Our dear daughter is married to an engineer who recently went to work for a company called Rudolph Technologies in New Jersey. He recently advised us to buy $10,000 worth of the stock. We don’t understand what our son-in-law does and we don’t understand what his company does, but he is adamant that we buy this stock. He said he owns 1,670 shares. Unfortunately, we’d have to sell our 300 shares of Pfizer to buy Rudolph Technologies. Please tell us what you think we should do. — CC, Vancouver, Wash.

Dear CC: Rudolph Technologies (RTEC-$24) came public at $16 in 1999 and hasn’t done diddly since. Your son-in-law’s recommendation of the company is, in the words of Winston Churchill, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

I have zero feeling for RTEC, which makes products so recondite and arcane that one might think it’s tripping through Wonderland with Alice or joyriding in a sleigh with Santa’s elves. On its website, RTEC states: “Rudolph Technologies, Inc. is a leader in the design, development, manufacture and support of defect inspection, lithography, process control metrology, and data analysis systems and software used by microelectronic device manufacturers worldwide.” Well, hug me close, Big Mama, ‘cause I have no bleeding idea what “process control metrology” is. And neither will most folks who read this column.

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