Arundel Corp., a Baltimore-based company engaged primarily in mining and marketing construction materials, said yesterday that Phoenix Management has raised its stake in the company to 15 percent and intends to seek control of Arundel.
Phoenix Management is a privately held investment firm based in Cockeysville, Md., which has been building its stake in Arundel during the last several months, according to reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
However, prior to yesterday's announcement, Phoenix had said it was purchasing Arundel stock for investment purposes only.
An Arundel spokesman said the company has not held discussions with Phoenix Management or with Thomas B. Shelton, Phoenix's chairman. Phoenix Management officials were not available for comment yesterday.
Arundel Corp. stock closed unchanged yesterday on the American Stock Exchange at 20 5/8. The stock has doubled since the end of March, when it was trading at $10 a share.
"Arundel has a nice construction materials business, which generates about $60 million a year in revenue, and has strong cash flow," said George F. Shipp, an analyst with Norfolk-based Investment Corp. of Virginia. "But the most valuable thing the company has is numerous rock quarries and the real estate surrounding and on top of them. The real estate value was not reflected in the company's stock price when shares were at $10."
Arundel's real estate is a "hidden asset" on its books, Shipp said. This means the real estate is worth substantially more than the value at which it is carried on the company's balance sheet. Companies frequently carry real estate on their books at the purchase price, which may be significantly less than the current market value of the properties, especially if they have owned the land for several years.
Although most of Arundel's real estate is in Maryland, it also owns land in Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Alabama.
The company's chairman, Henry J. Knott, and his son, Francis X. Knott, who is president, own about 24 percent of the company's approximately 2 million outstanding common shares. Eugene G. Bowles Jr., who became a director after Arundel bought Richmond-based Tidewater Holding Co., a privately held construction materials and contracting business, in September 1983, owns about 7 percent of the company's common stock.
Arundel sold Tidewater's contracting operations and retained the company's stone-quarrying and ready-mixed concrete businesses.
For the fist half of this year, Arundel had revenue of $30.8 million and a net loss of $326,000 compared with revenue of $28.6 million and net income of $1.1 million last year. Earnings from operations during the first half of the year were $1.7 million, compared with $2.9 million last year.
The loss during the first half of this year is typical and reflects the seasonal nature of the business, Shipp said. The company's unusually strong performance during the first half of last year was attributable to the completion of several large projects, including work on the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, he said.