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Byline: David Shabelman in San Francisco
Motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel had many people thoroughly convinced he would clear the Snake River Canyon. Shareholders of divine Inc. must be similarly inclined to believe in miracles.
The Chicago-based Web software and services company has made 18 acquisitions since February 2001. In that period, the company's stock has plummeted 81% from about $2 per share to roughly 37 cents. Despite the dive, divine just keeps on buying. Its latest deal came April 5 when the company issued about 200 million shares to purchase Viant Corp. for $86 million.
Investors are placing their faith not only in the company's ability to meld all their acquisitions, but also that chairman and CEO Andrew …