The winners and losers of 1984 are a mixture of companies on their way up, on their way down, on their way out or on their way back.
On its way back after a bout with Chapter 11 is Pubco Corp., whose stock rose to $1.63, for a gain of 136.4 percent, putting it on top of the 1984 winners list. Behind the rise of that penny stock is the story of a 26-year-old Washington-area printing company that lost one of its divisions to bankruptcy but found an Ohio entrepreneur willing to pay off its debts and operate it.
In 1958, Charles W. Lockyer started Pubco in an office over a hardware store in downtown Washington. He began, he recalled, with $7,800. Pubco became the nation's 12th-largest publicly held printing company. Its divisions included Merkle Press in Glenn Dale, Md., whose heavy losses forced Merkle and Pubco into bankruptcy proceedings in 1982. Pubco's printing divisions in New York, Chicago and St. Louis were not involved.
Enter First Jersey Securities, which helped take Pubco public in 1979 and recommended the stock to its customers. After Pubco ran into financial trouble, First Jersey introduced Lockyer to Robert H. Kanner, a 37-year-old Cleveland investor who specializes in making sick companies well. Kanner and his company, Buckeye Business Products Inc., which makes computer ribbons, took control of Pubco. Kanner put up $2.5 million to pay Pubco's debts, and he and Buckeye became owners of 37 percent of Pubco stock. Then last fall, with the help of First Jersey, the company raised $5.7 million with an offering of Pubco units (five shares and two warrants for $2.50).
Lockyer, who said last week, "I'm on cloud nine," is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Pubco and runs the Washington office. Kanner, president and chief operating officer, has moved Pubco headquarters to Cleveland but estimates that 2,000 of its stockholders live in the Washington area.
Kanner is moving quickly to expand. Two weeks ago, Pubco bought Hornsby's Stores Inc., a chain of 14 variety stores in Illinois that had $55 million in revenue in 1983. When added to Pubco's revenue of $37 million, it will bring the company up near the $100 million mark, Kanner said. He bought Hornsby's, he said, to get into the retail catalogue business, using expertise developed at the Chicago printing plant.
Second on the winners list is Realty Industries Inc. of Richmond, whose stock soared 85.1 percent this year because of its merger with Old Dominion Real Estate Investment Trust of Richmond. Realty President Sam Kornblau described the transaction as a "$60 million deal." Realty stockholders will get 3 1/8 shares of Old Dominion stock plus $4 cash for each Realty share.
UNC Resources of Falls Church, a minerals, manufacturing and defense contract firm, moved up 70.5 percent to $9.375, benefiting from a $300 million settlement with Gulf Oil Co. over uranium supply contracts. A turnaround climate, with increased sales, is credited with a 61.4 percent boost in the stock of Martin Processing of Martinsville, Va., a company that dyes carpet yarn and makes textile machinery. The stock of Arundel Corp., a Baltimore-based real estate development and construction materials company, moved up 55.3 percent. During 1984, Chairman Henry J. Knott has been buying stock to tighten family control of the company, as outside investors bought about 27 percent.
Stanwick Corp. of Arlington, which provides maintenance management systems for private industry and government, moved into profitability this year after several years of red ink. Stanwick's bottom line was helped by the settlement of claims against the Iranian government. At $2.625, Stanwick's stock is up 50 percent for the year.
The dubious honor of topping the losers list goes to Comdial Corp., of Charlottesville, Va., a telephone manufacturer caught in the competitive aftermath of the breakup of American Telephone & Telegraph Co. Comdial lost one-quarter of its sales and plunged 75.9 percent when AT&T took control of the Bell Phone Centers. Comdial's new product lines are switchboards for small businesses.
Second on the loss list is Tesdata Systems of McLean, down 69.9 percent. It sold losing European operations in August for $2.8 million, changed four of six top executives, negotiated new credit lines and is working toward profitability, said President Thomas E. Stone. "I feel good about 1985," he said.
Other losing stocks include Genex, the Rockville genetic research firm, down 60.6 percent. No stranger to red ink, the firm lost $5.4 million in 1983 but has predicted profitability in 1985. It makes the amino acids used in the low-calorie sweetener aspartame.
Survival Technology of Bethesda, down 56.4 percent, has sustained recent losses and attributes some of its problems to delays by the Department of Defense in buying its anti-chemical-warfare devices. Compucare, of Reston, which provides computer services for hospitals, has fallen off 58.5 percent. The stock dropped sharply in October when sales of software packages fell off and earnings plunged.
Flow General's losing ways continued to hurt its stock, with a 55.3 percent drop for the year. The company reported a $1.9 million loss for its first quarter, ended Sept. 30. Scott Seaboard of Linthicum, Md., down 63.6 percent, is the holding company for 17 Washington-Baltimore area home and garden centers.