The stock market as a whole just finished one of its worst quarters ever. About the only companies to show gains in a period dominated by crisis in the Persian Gulf were in natural resources, particularly oil.
"It was a difficult quarter," said Robert S. Salomon, director of stock research with Salomon Brothers Inc. "If people didn't realize it before, higher oil prices made many people realize that there is a recession on the way. And interests rates have not fallen as you would expect in a period of economic weakness."
Of the nearly 4,200 stocks tracked by Media General Financial Services, 3,744 were down in price for the third quarter while only 370 were up. Sixty-one were unchanged.
According to Media General, 1,368 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange were down, 155 stocks up and 19 unchanged.
On the American Stock Exchange, 461 were down, while 62 were up and 5 remained unchanged.
In over-the-counter trading, 1,915 stocks were down and 153 were up, with 37 unchanged.
The big winner on the Big Board was Freeport-McMoran Copper Co., which explores for and mines copper in Indonesia. In July, the company announced an increase of 107 million metric tons in its proven ore reserves at its Grasberg copper mine.
The stock with the greatest decline was Prime Motor Inns Inc., a hotel company that filed for bankruptcy last month. The company in recent months sold its Howard Johnson, Ramada and Rodeway Inns franchises. The company, based in Fairfield, N.J., had also announced that charges for the third quarter would lead to a substantial after-tax loss.
On the American exchange, the stock with the largest gain was Maxxam Inc., the former MCO Holdings, which in 1988 bought Kaisertech Ltd., the holding company for Kaiser Aluminum, and Kaiser, the nation's fourth-largest maker of aluminum. Maxxam has benefited in recent months from high aluminum prices and high demand for aluminum products.
The stock with the biggest decline on the American exchange was Catalina Lighting Inc., a Miami-based company that is one of the fastest growing importers and distributors of residential decorative lighting and ceiling fans. The company's results have been hurt by higher expenses and interest costs. Intensified competition in the industry has narrowed margins, pushing the company's earnings below expectations.
In over-the-counter trading, the largest gainer in the quarter was Barden Corp., a maker of bearing products, precision plastic moldings and metal stampings and assemblies. The company, based in Danbury, Conn., agreed two weeks ago to be acquired by FAG Bearings Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of a large West German bearings and industrial systems manufacturer FAG Kugelfischer Georg Schaefer.
The purchase price was $66.50 a share, or $131.1 million. On the day of that agreement, Barden's stock soared $30 a share -- a 94 percent gain -- in over-the-counter trading, closing at $63.
The stock with the sharpest decline in over-the-counter trading was CM Communications Inc., an importer and designer of cellular telephones. The company, based in Panorama City, Calif., announced inventory write-offs in recent months from a subsidiary that ceased operations.
Energy-related companies were prominent on the list of stocks gaining for the quarter.
On the Big Board, Freeport McMoran Oil and Gas Co., an explorer and producer of crude oil and natural gas, was No. 3. In the No. 4 spot was Western Gas Resources, the Denver-based holding company that owns a 52 percent stake in the natural gas company Western Gas Processors Ltd.
Fifth was Apache Corp., a Denver-based company involved in oil and gas exploration.
On the American Stock Exchange, two of the top five gainers were energy related: Beard Oil Co., an Oklahoma City-based oil and gas production company, and Chiles Offshore Corp., a Houston-based offshore drilling contractor.