More than half of software maker Comserv's net worth is in a pile of tapes and ring-bound books. That raises some...
TWO YEARS AGO Comserv, a $23 million (sales) Minneapolis-based maker of software systems for manufacturing companies, invested $735,000 to design a program for purchasing procedures. When it launched the product a year ago, Comserv already had 35 firm orders at $40,000 each -- a total of $1.4 million. And by the end of October it... Read More
Not everyone is going to make it to the banquet table. But those S&Ls and savings banks that are far-seeing or fortunate...
WHAT A DIFFERENCE a year can make. The thrifts, orphans a year ago, have made quite a splash on Wall Street lately.For many, prices have doubled since the gridlock of high interest rates broke in the summer, and a few wonder stocks, like H. F. Ahmanson and First Charter Financial, trebled in little more than... Read More
How the 1,002 largest U.S. public companies compare in profitability, growth and market performance on the Forbes...
DEPENDING ON HOW COSMIC the view of the observer, 1983 could be everything from a tough year for the banks to the collapse of Western civilization as we know it. Which will it be? Take a look at the tables below. The Penn Square disaster may have shattered Wall Street's love affair with Sunbelt Banks,... Read More
Banc One, from slump-ridden Ohio, is Wall Street's favorite -- but not just because of its technological lead.
JOHN G. McCOY, whose bustling showmanship as chief executive of Banc One Corp. has taken the bank's assets from $140 million to $6 billion in less than 25 years, once discovered that a close relative, a left-leaning student, was voting against his reelection as a board director. McCoy got on the phone right away. "It... Read More
How Heinz' Tony O'Reilly kept competitors at bay with a mix of firm prices, reduced costs and increased advertising.
NEXT TIME YOU'RE HAVING A hamburger, take a look at that bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup in front of you. See any difference? Same old burger-splattering stuff you have always used, right? Well, not quite. H.J. Heinz Co. President Anthony J. F. O'Reilly has made a few changes in his company's best-known product. Oh, you... Read More
In the valley of the fallen agricultural equipment producers, little Steiger Tractor fights on -- with a new $135,000 model.
THE HOUSE LIGHTS WENT DOWN. Circling laser beams pierced the gloom as if heraliding the arrival of an extraterrestrial spaceship. Then, on flashed a bank of floodlights as the auditorium curtain parted to reveal the Panther Automatic -- a 15-ton, 400-Horsepower, chartreuse-colored supertractor that retails for $120,000 to $135,000. Thunderous applause greeted this latest offering... Read More
At 81, Henry Reichhold is relinquishing the throne at Reichhold Chemicals. If he has any regrets, he's hiding them.
WHAT WAS MISSING in the past was accountability," says C. Robert Powell, the new chief executive of ailing $950 million (sales) Reichhold Chemicals. "Responsibility was divided on geographical rather than product lines. When things went wrong, sales blamed production and production blamed sales. There was no one to knock heads together." That's a familiar refrain... Read More
Some bad news for conglomerates hoping to get a tax break in consolidating earnings from life insurance subsidiaries.
RARE IS THE FULL-BLOODED conglomerate these days that doesn't have a life insurance company under its wing. Teledyne, ITT, Avco, Loews -- all of them love the chance to play God with those massive investment portfolios while enjoying the traditionally steady life earnings stream. And since the Tax Reform Act of 1976 they have all... Read More
Unbroken earnings gains at SCM have never impressed Wall Street. This year's profit collapse helps explain why.
PAUL ELICKER ISN'T usually bashful when it comes to talking about his company, but the chairman of $1.9 billion (sales) SCM Corp. definitely didn't want to talk about fiscal 1981 as he closed the books on it at the end of June. With SCM's perennially meager profits about to be chopped roughly in half on... Read More
No news is good news in banking these days. With fewer lending surprises, Citicorp has been keeping out of the headlines.
CHASE IS LICKING its wounds from the Drysdale Government Securities debacle; Continental Illinois' tally of problem loans has doubled, to a high 2.4% of assets, in six months; Bank America is digging itself out from under the California real estate collapse. In all this, Citicorp, which rivals BankAmerica as the nation's biggest bank, has looked... Read More
Measuring the life insurance industry's profits -- a bonanza for the tax lawyers and a headache for the accountants.
ONE WAY OF FURTHERING your case in a territorial dispute is to grab the land first and argue later. This has proved dangerous for Argentina; and so far it has not worked much better for the U.S. life insurance industry, which for three years has been locked in a war of attrition with the Internal... Read More
Everything moves in lockstep at Ohio-based Revco drugstores, from the pharmacy right down to the shampoo shelf.
SIDNEY DWORKIN, chief executive of $1.3 billion (sales) Revco, leaves nothing to chance. Walk into any of his drugstores and look at, say, the shampoo shelf. The lineup will always be the standard size of Head & Shoulders on the left, the same size Revco label equivalent in the center and the family size of... Read More
Did Dean Witter one-up the competition with its new advertising campaign? Or did Sears, Roebuck's brokerage firm simply...
BEING SNOWBOUND in Atlanta was what did it, says Dean Witter Reynolds market strategy analyst Francis Kelly. Things just had to get better on Wall Street, he concluded in that unexpected sojourn, and there followed what must rank as one of Wall Street's most daring attempts to call a major market shift. In full-page advertisements... Read More
In the name of "soaking the rich," the government may be driving another nail into the municipal bond market's coffin.
MANY BIG BANKS pay as little as half the normal corporate income tax rate of 46%. Many regionals pay less than 10%.Cleveland-based AmeriTrust paid no tax at all on profits totaling $60 million. But banks will be among the main victims of the new catchall Alternative Minimum Tax, if it takes effect next year as... Read More
Harold Hall's ambitions to turn the merged Southern and N&W railroads into a total transportation company scare the...
IF YOU THINK the financial supermarket rattles the banks, listen to the plans of Harold Hall, the ambitious president of Southern Railway System, for a transportation supermarket -- once the Southern's merger with the Norfolk & Western goes through. Hall's scheme has the struggling trucking industry plenty scared. "If I go into a hardware store... Read More
Who says you can't have it both ways? In this takeover case, the SEC says you can.
THERE ARE TWO WAYS you can look at the earnings of CGA Computer Associates, a $20, million (sales) New Jersey computer software marketer. Either it made an aftertax profit of $1,637,000 in the nine months to Jan. 31. Or it lost $396,000. CGA gives both figures on its income statement with SEC approval. What happened?... Read More
How Pennsylvania's Weis Markets makes one-third of what Safeway does -- on only 5% of Safeway's sales.
WEIS MARKETS HAS BEEN a legend in the supermarket industry for years. It boasts a profit margin more than twice the industry norm. Its return on equity has topped 18% every year since 1973. And its earnings have grown every year since 1950. Last year Weis netted $38 million. That's one-third of what Safeway earned,... Read More
There are hidden pitfalls for shareholders in the confusion over AT&T's breakup.
IN THE ROW OVER the breakup of American Telephone & Telegraph, there has been a lot of talk about defending the public from rocketing local telephone bills. But all the while another group of ordinary people -- AT&T's stockholders -- may be getting mugged in the confusion. Billions of dollars may be at stake. The... Read More
Wall Street shuddered when Allen Neuharth announced a new national newspaper. Now it is having second thoughts
VISITORS TO Allen Neuharth's log-built, fortress-like mansion on the Atlantic near Cape Canaveral see a certain irony these days in the motto over his desk. It is a quotation from Henry David Thoreau: "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a valvet cushion." The pumpkin... Read More
Artists are now marketed like movie stars, new car models or stock issues.
TIM YARNELL, the marketing brains behind sculptor Harry Jackson, has a fine sense of perspective about his job. "Titian had a man like me," says Yarnell, a former boss of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in France. "If you go back to Rubens or Tintoretto, you'll find they were organized much like Harry Jackson.... Read More
How the 1,023 largest U.S. public companies compare in profitability, growth and market performance on the FORBES...
HAVING BEEN A DIRTY WORD on Wall Street for over a decade, conglomerates are being gradually rehabilitated. The new luster is dramatically reflected in stock prices. A recent Merrill Lynch survey showed that conglomerates shares outperformed the S&P's 500 by an astonishing 140% in the last six years. That means, of course, that institutions, are... Read More
A National Kinney subsidiary is in such a shambles the auditors can't figure out how to restate earnings nine years back
WANT A LAUGH? Take a look at National Kinney's latest annual report. It's a killer. After recounting the sorry state of its car parking and contracting businesses, which ran up a $20 million loss last year on sales of $305 million, the company admits to "errors and irregularities" in the accounting for one of its... Read More
Avco, the aviation company that bombed as a conglomerate in the 1960s, is returning home after a decade of chasing fads.
AVCO CORP.'s 40,000-plus stockholders aren't smiling much these days. The stock, which sold at 32 a few months ago, is languishing at 20, having given up all the ground it gained in the past five years. Yet, says James Kerr, 64, who has just retired as CEO, "I am very happy with what I am... Read More
Any company that pays taxes is bound to be attracted by one that has a bundle of tax-loss carryforwards. With that kind of dowry, the marriage is made in heaven -- for the first few years at least. Rarely, however, has there been a more elegant variation on this ancient theme than that recently proposed... Read More
The merger-created NWS railroad will probably head the industry's profits table. How will the new leviathan use its muscle?
AS THE CROW FLIES, Norton, Va. is about 350 miles from the East Coast port of Norfolk. But for the Southern Railway company, which ships 450,000 tons of coal a year for the overseas market from mines near Norton to Norfolk, the journey is a meandering 664-mile marathon. There is a more direct route --... Read More
In the battle for the $22 billion U.S. traveler's check business, Visa has found the going tougher than it figured.
DEE HOCK, chief executive of the Visa credit card organization, used to dismiss traveler's checks, those fail-safe proxies for real money, as an "anachronism." An outspoken prophet of the electronic revolution in banking, he was convinced that plastic cards would wipe out traveler's checks. So it came as a surprise, after the MasterCard organization announced... Read More
Two years ago Uniroyal looked like a basket case. Now it's one of Wall Street's favorite recovery stories.
WHEN I BECAME CHIEF executive in February 1980, it was this company's darkest hour," says Uniroyal's burly President Joseph P. Flannery, with a steely glint in his eye. "We suddenly realized that the year was going to be a disaster for Detroit. And we had almost no elbowroom with the banks. I said to myself,... Read More
Baldwin-United's bid for Sperry & Hutchinson may be less generous than it seems. As the IRS notes, Sperry profits each...
BALDWIN-UNITED, the $2.6 billion (assets) financial services group, may have a reputation for shrewdness -- but eyebrows were raised last January when it bid $36 a share for Sperry & Hutchinson, the Green Stamp company. Analysts said the price was too high for a company that had earned a mere $1.40 per share for the... Read More
For years Meyer Melnikoff has been telling pension funds that they should be buying real estate. Now they believe him.
WITHOUT US the real estate world might be in great disarray," says Meyer Melnikoff, the soon-to-retire senior vice president for group pensions at the Prudential Insurance Co. of America. "Some developers might have collapsed if the pension industry were not around to take property of their hands." Melnikoff is not exaggerating. Pension funds have been... Read More
Behind the Kroger Co.'s newfound expansion lies an old-fashioned principle: The customer is always right.
UP TO A QUARTER OF A MILLION shoppers in communities throughout the Midwest and South will be grilled during in-depth interviews this year by researchers working for the Kroger Co. supermarkets. The results of those interviews will be gone over with a fine-tooth comb back in corporate headquarters in Cincinnati. "The fundamental strength of this... Read More
It may make sense in good times to show bank bond partfolios at historical cost, but when things turn sour. . .
IF YOU BELIEVE conventional accounting, Cleveland-based Centran, a bank holding company with $3.4 billion in assets, made a profit of $9.5 million in the 12 months ending in June. At least that's the word investors got in the company's income statement. But for those investors clever enough to scrutinize the interiors of financial parentheses, it... Read More
A lot of people profess scorn for Rupert Murdoch. Fine: There's nothing like having your enemies underestimate you.
DESPITE RUMORS TO THE contrary, Rupert Murdoch was not interested in buying the Washington Star before Time Inc. decided last month to fold it. Similarly, Murdoch has not joined such newspaper combines ad Knight-Ridder, Dow Jones and the New York Times Co. in their eagerness to pay multiples of asset values for cable television properties.... Read More