Meat Industry INSIGHTS Newsletter

980843 WLR Soars on Profit As Market Dips Again

August 24, 1998

Broadway, VA - Wall Street may think the sky is falling, but Virginia's little chicken company, WLR Foods Inc. of Broadway, disagrees.

WLR's stock jumped nearly $2 a share last week because the poultry packer finally gave investors something to crow about: It turned a profit in June for the first time in 30 months and cut its loss for the quarter to $2 million from $9.1 million in the same period a year ago.

Falling grain prices, which make it cheaper to grow chickens and turkeys, were a big help for the long-suffering stock. WLR, based in the Shenandoah Valley, has slashed its operating costs and is switching one plant to chickens from turkeys, which are, well, turkeys as far as consumers are concerned.

Up the valley in Winchester, shares of American Woodmark Co. climbed almost 10 percent after the maker of kitchen cabinets reported its best first quarter ever, with profits growing more than 60 percent to $4.2 million (53 cents a share) from $2.6 million (33 cents).

One of the region's ever-volatile penny stocks produced one last jump for shareholders when Versatility Inc. agreed to sell out to giant Oracle Inc. for $16 million, or $1.50 a share.

Those gainers, however, were among the few District, Maryland and Virginia stocks to defy the week's downtrend. As the market fell broadly, The Washington Post-Bloomberg regional stock index fell more than 1 percent to 158.23. With last week's 1.7-point loss, the index is down nearly 24 points -- and 15 percent -- from its high of 181.9 on July 21.

The week's biggest losers were stockholders of Ciena Corp. which tripped for the second time. The Linthicum telephone equipment maker's stock plunged from $54.12 1/2 to $31.25 after AT&T Corp. said it had decided not to use Ciena's equipment.

Until a month ago, Ciena was the region's hottest telecommunications company. But soon after the stock hit a record $88 a share, the company reported its earnings will fall short of analysts projections and the stock started to slide.

This Article Compliments of...

Iotron Technology Inc.


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