High hopes and high risks.
That's the story of many companies that go public these days.
Consider Global Health Systems Inc. of Rockville. A two-year-old company, it sells computerized record-keeping systems for ambulatory-care facilities and hospitals.
But so do many other companies.
"The health-care information processing systems industry is highly competitive and likely to become more so," said Global in a recent prospectus.
Thus, Global's success depends, among other things, on winning customers and capturing market share in the face of competition from companies such as International Business Machines, McDonnell Douglas and Baxter Travenol, which acquired Compucare of Reston. Compucare specializes in health-care systems.
But it takes money to build a business.
So Global recently sold 1.15 million shares at $1.75 a share to raise $2.012 million, before commissions. Scott & Stringfellow of Richmond underwrote the deal. The shares closed Friday at $1.50 bid, $1.63 asked.
The company hopes to use the proceeds of its offering by putting $300,000 into marketing, $200,000 into research and development and $100,000 into repaying short-term debts. The rest will provide working capital. As of March 31, the company's working capital was $152,000, and it had an accumulated deficit of $68,257.
The young company's forthcoming quarterly report will provide a better picture of how its business is progressing.
On the downside, the prospectus notes, sales and profits or losses might fluctuate widely. One factor is that when the company sells a computer system, the price could range from $35,000 to $500,000.
On the upside, Global reports, it has more than 50 clients in 12 states, including the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. But its customer base needs to be broadened. During the three months that ended March 31, 76 percent of sales were made to three major customers.
While Global might face competition from scores of companies, the potential market is very large. Global found, in its research, that hospitals are spending $3 billion a year on information systems and that people in the ambulatory-care market -- doctors and all manner of health providers -- spent $450 million for data processing in 1984.
Alan Gold, the 41-year-old president of Global, is optimistic about his firm's prospects. "We think it is a rapidly growing market niche, and we hope our investors are long-term oriented," he said.
What Global hopes will give it an edge over its competition is its concentration on software that helps health providers deal with the problem of cost containment. The health-care industry has been undergoing major changes in recent years -- not the least of which is the federal government's effort to control Medicare payments to hospitals.
Global's system for computerizing patient records should make its products attractive for health-care providers who must carefully analyze and control expenses, Global believes.
Gold and his associates sold about 20 percent of the stock in the company, keeping about 80 percent.
The way the deal worked, the new shareholders paid $1.75 a share and got 20 percent of the stock for about 90 percent of the total cost. On the other hand, company officials paid 5 cents a share for 80 percent of the stock and put up 10 percent of the money.
Gold spent six years as a Merrill Lynch broker but decided to try to put his master's degree in computer science to work in business.
The crew at Global includes Lawrence E. Golub, board chairman, 26, a graduate of Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, and Duff A. Scudder, the controller, a 30-year-old accountant who formerly worked for Banner Life Insurance Co.
Sporting Life of Alexandria, which sells women's clothing through mail-order catalogues, has attracted the interest of a wealthy investor from Milwaukee. The investor, James B. Chase, has spent about $500,000 to buy a big chunk of the company's stock.
For his money, thus far, he has corralled about 80,000 shares, or about 9 percent, of Sporting Life's stock.
Chase, who was in Washington the other day, said he developed an interest in the company several years ago when he joined a 13-member venture capital group that put $400,000 into the firm.
Chase said he was pleased by how the company used the money and the way President Charles B. Howard II was managing the business.
Chase, first vice president of Robert W. Baird & Co., an investment banking firm in Milwaukee, said he has investments in several industrial companies. His only interest in Sporting Life, he said, is as an investor. He is not looking for a seat on the board of directors nor trying to mount a takeover, he said.
Howard, himself a former stockbroker, said Chase had told him pretty much the same thing. Howard added, "I don't want the company taken over."
The business is going well, said Howard. The company will be mailing 18 million catalogues in the next 18 months, he noted. That will include its new fashion book, The Christina Stuart Catalogue.
Sporting Life stock went on sale at $5 in May 1985, briefly rose to $9 last February and dropped back to the $5 to $6 area. It closed Friday at $7.38 a share.
Manor Care of Silver Spring, a $454 million company that owns and operates nursing homes and hotels, is high on the buy lists of several major brokerage houses.
Analyst A. Byron Nimocks of E. F. Hutton recently advised "aggressive purchase" for long-term investors. "Near term," he said, "we look for these shares to digest recent gains and perform in line with the Standard & Poor's 500." At Smith Barney, analyst Joseph D. France said Manor Care is on his firm's recommended list and added, "We consider the stock attractive, based on the company's solid fundamentals."
Prudential-Bache analyst Edwin H. Gordon said that, based on Manor Care's most recent quarterly results, which saw a 40 percent rise in per-share earnings, "We are reiterating our buy recommendation both for the short term and long term. We believe that the stability of the company's earnings prospects will attract additional fans . . . especially since it now is part of the S&P 500 index."
Gordon expects earnings of $1.20 a share for the year ending May 1987, compared with 96 cents for fiscal 1986. At $24.50, the stock is selling for 20.4 times 1987 earnings. The market average is 16.
Allied Capital of Washington, a venture capital firm, has sold 457,500 shares at $20 a share, netting $9.1 million. The stock, which was unregistered, was sold to a group of private investors, including pension funds and foundations. Because the shares must be held for two years before they can be traded, they were sold at a 10 percent discount from the previous week's share price.
Loyola Federal Savings & Loan of Baltimore has decided to convert from a mutual savings and loan to a publicly owned stock company.