Greener pastures ahead for Borden Inc

September 12, 1990|By Andrew Leckey answers questions only through his column. Address such inquiries to Andrew Leckey, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611. O: Leckey Q&A

Q. What are your thoughts on Borden Inc.? Its products don' seem to be around as much as I remember they once were.

A. While this company isn't milking profits as it once did, its pasture will eventually be greener.

Borden Inc. (around $34 a share, New York Stock Exchange) has better prospects and is cheaper than most food company stocks, although there's no overwhelming reason to buy it right now, said Robert Cummins, analyst with Wertheim Shroder.

The company has been undergoing a restructuring that includes cost reduction measures, cutbacks in its dairy business and a search for acquisitions both here and abroad.

"Borden earnings have been held back by reduced margins in its dairy division, but, as this sector improves, so will overall profits and its stock," said Cummins. "Unfortunately, the stock has been underperforming the market and most investors likely won't be willing to jump on board until the turnaround process is further along."

Q. My wife and I own 75 shares of Carter-Wallace and are interested in purchasing more. Do you think, in light of the current economy, that this is a good idea?

A. This stock may be a good recession-fighter.

Carter-Wallace (around $48, NYSE), maker of drug and toiletry ,, products purchased by consumers whatever state the economy in, is a stock worth buying, said Diana Temple, analyst with Salomon Brothers Inc.

"Carter-Wallace acquired both the Trojan prophylactic business and First Response Home Diagnostics, which I believe are further evidence of a fine expansion program," said Temple. "Management is doing a fine job of enhancing the company's product line."

Q. I have owned several hundred shares of Bethlehem Steel for more than 10 years. I was disappointed by its recent earnings report. Is it now time to sell?

A. Steel yourself and wait for some improved prospects.

Hold on to your shares of Bethlehem Steel (around $12, NYSE), despite its 74 percent drop in quarterly profits linked to a new maintenance program, advised J. Clarence Morrison, analyst with Prudential-Bache Securities.

"Bethlehem Steel was in the process of updating and modernizing its major blast furnace in Maryland and, as a result, it wasn't able to operate at full capacity," explained Morrison. "However, the company will be better off in the long run because of this maintenance program."

Q. Many years ago I purchased 200 shares of D.D.I. Pharmaceuticals. Can you give me any information on this company? Since it was once making a drug to combat arthritis and was trying it out on horses, I have always called it my "horse liniment" stock.

A. You weren't just horsing around when you bought that stock.

D.D.I. Pharmaceuticals (around $2.50, over the counter), a firm formerly known as Diagnostic Data Inc. which develops drugs for human and veterinarian needs, is still around, said Robert D. Fisher, vice president with the New York-based R.M. Smythe & )) Co. stock-search firm. Its current address is 518 Logue Ave., Mountain View, Calif. 94043.

Q. My wife and I are planning to refinance our three-year adjustable rate mortgage. We would like to know if the fees on this might be deductible and whether the points are also deductible.

A. Bank fees and appraisal fees are never deductible, while points are only deductible on the original purchase and not refinancing, said Robert Greisman, tax partner with Grant Thornton.

"However, the court has allowed the deduction of points on subsequent financing if the first loan is deemed temporary and permanent financing was subsequently found," added Greisman, who points out that your particular situation does not fit into this category. "Those who do fit in this category are allowed to deduct points on the permanent financing, as well as the original temporary financing loan."

Q. I own 150 shares of Cadbury Schweppes A.D.S. and was pleased to see that the firm bought certain assets of Perrier. Is it time to buy more shares?

A. Prospects are positively Schwepp-ervescent, as the firm's advertisements once proclaimed.

Cadbury Schweppes A.D.S. (around $58, over the counter), the United Kingdom holding company for a group of international firms making confectionery products and soft drinks, is a stock worth holding or buying, said Sharon Conway, based in Chicago with A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc.

Among its many holdings, the company owns Crush International, Schweppes, Canada Dry Malvern Water, Motts Apple Juice and Rose's Lime Juice.

"The growth of the company has been primarily through an aggressive program of acquisitions," said Conway, noting that the company purchased the non-cola soft drink operation of Perrier but Perrier retains ownership of the bottled water division. "Now that the price of the shares has pulled back a bit, Cadbury Schweppes looks like a solid long-term investment."

Q. Is it now time to unload my shares of Saint Paul Bancorp? The decline in price has gotten to me.

A. You can still bank on the stock of this financial institution.

Saint Paul Bancorp (around $9, OTC), the large Chicago-based thrift institution, is a stock which should be held for an eventual rebound in price, said Richard Wholey of Chicago-based Wayne Hummer & Co.

It recently increased its loan loss reserves at the request of regulators who are being extremely cautious in the wake of the national savings and loan fiasco, Wholey pointed out.

"Saint Paul is a good S&L being tainted by the well-documented problems in the industry," said Wholey. "Earnings should be about $2 per share next year and the company's stock is trading well below book value, so I think value-oriented investors might consider adding this stock to their portfolio."

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