Football player tackles IPO market $10 million profit for Lawrence Taylor

November 22, 1993|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- The hottest new stock offering of 1993 is a company run by a football player. If the market prices hold, Lawrence Taylor, the star linebacker for the New York Giants, stands to make millions on an investment of a few thousand.

It is hard to tell whether the amazing performance of All-Pro Products Inc. reflects the popularity of Mr. Taylor or the excesses of a bull market that has gone wild. Probably it is a little of both.

All-Pro, which hopes to make money in the very different businesses of video games and sports drinks, went public Nov. 9 at a price of $5 for a unit, consisting of one share of stock and a warrant to buy another share.

The unit price soared to $11.875 in the first day of trading on the Nasdaq small-capitalization market, and kept rising. It ended last week at $14.25, 185 percent above the offering price.

That easily outstripped Boston Chicken, the old champ of 1993 that had gone public a day earlier. At its last price of $40, it is trading at only twice its offering price.

Buyers of All-Pro at the offering made big profits if they sold last week, but their gains are dwarfed by Mr. Taylor's paper profits. He owns a million shares, which cost him $5,750, or about half a cent each, on average. Although the shares have not started trading separately from the warrants, prices for the units indicate a value of about $10 million for Taylor's shares.

When Boston Chicken zoomed skyward, there was much clucking about overvaluation. But while the shares seemed richly priced, there was no question that the fast food chain was a successful company with many satisfied customers. All-Pro cannot yet make such a claim.

The company was started in early 1992 by Taylor, the president and chief executive, and Michael Stone, an experienced food industry executive who is the chief operating officer.

Its total revenues from then through last May, the most recent data available, were $36,220. That money came from selling Metro-Pro, as the sports drink is called.

It is aimed at the market segment dominated by Gatorade, but has had a rocky start. Early this year it stopped trying to sell its original formulation and introduced a new formula. It comes in four flavors: lemon-lime, orange, grape and fruit punch.

In the New York area, the bottles of Metro-Pro carry Mr. Taylor's photograph. The hope is that if and when it is able to expand to other areas, the company will be able to sign other star athletes to put their photographs on the bottles.

Company officials did not return phone calls last week and Mr. Taylor's agent, Steve Rosner, declined to comment. The facts in this article are taken from the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The other prospective business for All-Pro is even less certain. It has signed a contract to have a separate company develop a home video game system featuring "virtual reality," or the perception that the game player is in a three-dimensional environment.

The prospectus that accompanies the offering carries numerous warnings that no one connected to the effort has any experience developing such games and that its efforts may flop.

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