At Lockheed Aircraft Corp.'s first stockholders meeting in three years, Robert W. Haack stepped down as chairman of the board, declaring that the company had reached "a great moment in its history" and that, after six years marked by scandal, and financial problems, the public was gaining "an increasingly high respect" for the California based corporation.
After 20 months in office, Haack relinquished the chairman's position to Roy A. Anderson, currently vice chairman of the board and the company's fhief financial officer. Haack, Anderson and company president Lawrence O. Kitchen had been functioning as an "executive troika" while steering the company past a series of disclosures of foreign payments, mammoth bank debts, federal laon guarantees and bedderal oversights.
Haack announced Wednesdat that the 24 banks extending Lockheed credit not longer would require the federal government to guarantee their loans. Haack told more then 500 shareholders at the company's Burbank headquarters that this would free the company from burdensome government supervision and would improve Lockheed's image at home and abroad.
"This is a great moment in Lockheed's history - it will show the world we are a viable corporation," Haack told the shareholders. "It will also serve as an opportunity for us to lower our high profile. I think it will go a long way towards improving our public image."
Lockheed executives have been so concerned about the company's public image that in the past year they have commissioned private polls to see how to correct their problem. Haack said that recent findings showed "significant improvement in the public's attitude toward he company."
Richard V. Martin, a company spokesman, said the poll was carried out for "planning pruposes" in order to see how the public could be persuaded that "Lockheed doesn't always walk around like the bad guy in a black hat." Martin, however, refused to reveal the name of the polling corporation used or the specific results.
The shareholders meeting went very smoothly, taking less than an hour and a hlf with hardly a dissent against the current management although Lockheed hasn't issued a dividend since 1969. Haacktold the share holders not to expect one in the immediate future, but he did express the hope that the banks who control the company's purse strings might be persuaded to allow some cash dividends in the "not too far distant future."
Several stockholders explained their backing for management by pointing to recent increases in the price of Lockheed stock which has jumped from a low of less than 3 in December 1973 to more than 15 today.
"People feel pretty good," said stockholders J.S. Ross, a retired employee. "Nobody's disgruntled, everybody's smiling - the stocks going up and things are looking better."
Haack also assured the stockholders of greater things to come. The company reported $26 million in profits in the first six months of 1977, and he said the third-quarter figures are very promising." He warned, however, against too much optimism, citing "imponderables'" including possible problems with foreign sales of Lockheed's C-130 air transport under Carter administration guidelines.
"There's a new environment in the Carter administration which is regulating foreign sales more than has been true before,= said Haack who lives in Potomac. "This may hamper our earnings."
In another move to alter the company's image, the stockholders agreed to change the name of the company from Lockheed Aircraft Corp. to Lockheed Corp. Haack said this move would "clean up confusion about our non-aircraft operation," which includes space technology, ship building, missiles, electronics and energy research.