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Trend Watch

February 13, 1991| A roundup of business developments spotted by other publications. Items were compiled and edited by Grassroots Research, a unit of the San Francisco money management firm RCM Capital Management.

Organic Grains: Pioneer Hi-Bred of Iowa is exploring a new product market: grain grown without pesticides. Last year the world's biggest seed purveyor (1989 revenue of $875 million) began contracting with farmers to provide about 2 million bushels of bread grains to be sold by the company's Better Life Products division. Farmers will receive premiums of 10 to 25 cents per bushel on wheat, oats and barley; 30 to 40 cents on corn, and about $1 on soybeans. New Farm

Lighter Rig: To lower offshore drilling costs, two Louisiana companies have developed a drilling platform that uses up to 20% less steel than conventional platforms. McDermott International and Freeport-McMoRan say their Crystal platform costs 12% to 16% below average for the market and can make more oil deposits available for exploitation. The first platform is expected to go into operation in the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana by spring, 1992. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Parts Squeeze: Strong demand for Compaq's laptop computers is being squeezed by a shortage of parts that is expected to last until March. Production of the new LTE386s/20 model fell behind for lack of the fixed disk drive made by Conner Peripherals, of which Compaq is part owner. The snafu gives Texas Instruments and IBM a break in the crowded market, but a Compaq spokesman said the company "feels very good about its competitive advantage." Houston Chronicle

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