2nd big Waverly Press investor increases stake

November 09, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

A major investor in Waverly Inc. has boosted his stake in the Baltimore publishing company to 7.68 percent, but company management says Chicago-based printing and broadcasting company owner Fred Eychaner is a longtime investor who has not proposed major changes at Waverly.

"I think he's a good, patient investor who hopefully will be very nicely rewarded in the very near future, based purely on the results of the company," Waverly Chief Executive Officer Edward B. Hutton said. "They have been investors in the company since the early 1980s. We heard from their [chief financial officer], who told us it was just part of his long-term investment portfolio."

Mr. Eychaner's disclosure that he added 37,500 shares on Oct. 12 and Nov. 1 to the Waverly stake that he and his company, Newsweb Corp., first disclosed in 1989 is the second such Securities and Exchange Commission filing in three weeks.

Times Mirror Co. disclosed Oct. 21 that it owns 5.01 percent of Waverly.

Waverly's management is fortified against any outside bid to buy the company or force major changes.

Mr. Hutton said the family of Chairman William M. Passano Jr. owns almost 45 percent of Waverly's stock and controls an additional 15 percent of the voting stock.

Neither investor appears to have short-term designs on buying or restructuring Waverly.

Mr. Eychaner declined to comment yesterday, but the filing he made with the SEC on Friday said that his stake, now 335,149 shares, is for investment purposes only.

Before he made his latest purchase, he had held a 6.82 percent stake in Waverly.

Analysts have speculated that Times Mirror would attempt to buy Waverly because the Los Angeles media company has businesses that compete with Waverly's medical and technical publishing expertise, and also because Times Mirror needs an outlet for cash after agreeing to sell its cable television holdings to Cox Enterprises Inc. of Atlanta.

Times Mirror, which owns The Baltimore Sun Co., denies the speculation, saying it has proposed nothing of the kind.

"There have been no new developments, and there's nothing more we can say," said Stephen C. Meier, Times Mirror's vice president of administration and community affairs. "It's an investment, and that's all there is to it."

But the combination of takeover talk and the company's improving performance has driven the stock over $20 a share, and it reached a 52-week high of $21.25 on Oct. 25. Yesterday, Waverly shares closed at $20.50, up 50 cents.

The company earned $2.1 million, or 47 cents a share, during the nine months that ended Sept. 30, compared with a $2.1 million loss in the same period last year.

The company's revenue rose 18 percent in the third quarter, and Waverly will continue to reap cost savings from a downsizing last year, Chief Financial Officer E. Philip Hanlon said when Waverly announced third-quarter results Oct. 31.

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