Duty Free stock takes a big tumbleOnce again Duty Free...

CONSUMER MARKETPLACE

July 13, 1993|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,Staff Writer

Duty Free stock takes a big tumble

Once again Duty Free International has shown it's not a company for timid investors.

Shares in the Ridgefield, Conn.-based company, which has large divisional operation in Glen Burnie, lost almost a quarter of their value yesterday after the company warned investors of slumping sales at its stores along the Canadian border.

Duty Free's stock plunged $6.25 to $19.875, off 23.9 percent from its close Friday.

The company, which had reported "positive results" for the July 4 weekend, issued a statement saying that if the sudden negative trend continued, second-quarter earnings could drop to between cents and 31 cents, down from 35 cents in the same period last year.

Duty Free said sales along the northern border could fall 10 percent to 15 percent behind last year's depressed totals because of Canada's recession and weak currency. Richard Foote, special situations analyst with Argus Research in New York, said Duty Free's management released the statement because it wanted to "deflate expectations" for the quarter.

Despite Duty Free's successful effort to become less dependent on its northern stores, the company's stock has been prone in recent years to sudden stumbles based on the fluctuations of Canadian border crossings.

Most of the company's recent growth has come in its airport division and its newly acquired stores along the Mexican border and in Canada.

SG "For the long term, it's still a sound investment," Mr. Foote said.

Bell Atlantic eases shopping by phone

If "Don't Leave Home Without It" was the slogan for the 1980s, its counterpart for the 1990s could be "Don't Leave Home."

Yesterday, Baltimore-Washington customers of Bell Atlantic Corp.'s telephone companies became the first in the country to be able to use automated teller machine cards to make purchases from home, according to Internet Inc., owner of the MOST ATM network. The services will also be available in other parts of Maryland and the mid-Atlantic states where MOST and Bell Atlantic overlap.

The new service uses an existing technology called ScanFone, developed by U.S. Order, that can be used to make catalog purchases from home, using credit cards. ScanFone is a telephone that incorporates a "light pen" to scan bar codes and xTC a credit card "swipe" such as those found in many retail outlets. It has a screen display and requires the entry of a personal identification number (PIN) to complete a transaction.

The debit card system will start modestly, with the PC Flowers floral delivery service as the only national catalog merchant to

accept such payments. But the service is expected to be extended as more merchants sign on.

Consumers who want the service can get it by calling Bell Atlantic Home Management Services at (800) 777-9699 to rent a ScanFone.

The cost is $11.95 a month, and you do have to pay the ATM charges normally levied by your bank.

Ted Williams cards honor baseball greats

Amid the hype and hoopla of FanFest and the All-Star game, it might have been easy to miss the birth announcement of a new baseball card company with Hall of Fame credentials.

The Ted Williams Card Co. is making its debut at the Convention Center festivities during this extended weekend. The legendary Boston Red Sox slugger is lending his name to a new series of baseball cards, highlighting great Major League and Negro League players of the past.

The first series of 200 cards is scheduled to hit the market July 25.

Mr. Williams, 74, will not have a full-time management role in the Woburn, Mass.-based company, but his son, John Henry Williams, is president and co-founder. The Hall of Fame outfielder has been involved in the selection of players to be honored and the commentary on the back of the cards.

To enhance the appeal of the cards as a collectible, the company plans to limit production to 9,999 series of numbered cards in 12-box cases. (Mr. Williams wore No. 9.) Among the players to be honored in the company's Premier Edition '93 are former Orioles Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Luis Aparicio.

Catalog offers gays a way to use clout

The Joint Chiefs of Staff might insist that homosexuality is incompatible with military service, but there's little doubt that it's compatible with economic clout.

That's obvious from a slick new catalog called "Made in Gay America," which is being mailed out to 250,000 American households this month.

Sounding the theme of "buy gay," the catalog includes both men's and women's clothing -- some quite mainstream, some obviously aimed at a niche market. Also available are jewelry, gifts, cosmetics, gay-oriented books and music by gay artists such as k. d. lang and Holly Near.

The catalog also offers some ways for gay and lesbian consumers to let merchants and creditors know where their money is coming from -- checks emblazoned with the red ribbon of AIDS awareness or the pink triangle signifying gay activism.

According to founder J. Michael Boone, 10 percent of the profits from the check orders will be donated to AIDS-related charities.

E9 The catalog can be ordered by calling (800) 872-4297.

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