NOW WE KNOW WHY
-- The first Times 100 in 1988 listed the most "undervalued" and "overvalued" companies based on income as a percentage of their book value. Among them:
* Columbia Savings & Loan, a Beverly Hills thrift that failed in January, was the most undervalued.
* First Executive Corp., whose main insurance units were seized in April by regulators, was the eighth-most undervalued.
* Imperial Corp. of America, which filed under Chapter 11 last year after regulators seized its now-defunct Imperial Savings unit, was the 11th-most undervalued.
* The most overvalued that year was Carter Hawley Hale, now operating under Chapter 11.
SAPLING AMONG THE REDWOODS
Amgen, a Thousand Oaks biotechnology firm, on April 12 had a market value of $5.3 billion, just a shade below that of Westwood oil giant Occidental Petroleum Corp.--which is 72 times the size of Amgen in revenue.
Boole & Babbage
WORST SPELLED COMPANY NAME
Companies on The Times 100 list could wrap you from head to toe: sneakers (L.A. Gear), everyday clothing (Gap Inc. and Ross Stores), surf wear (Quiksilver Inc.) and lingerie (Fredericks of Hollywood).
TRENDY NO LONGER
Among the biggest losers in stock price from April 12, 1990, to April 12 of this year were L.A. Gear (65% drop), Sharper Image (down 63%) and Westwood One (also 63%).
REALLY RAD HOMETOWN
Nearly one-third of the companies on The Times 100 are Silicon Valley-area firms. And the smallest headquarters city is Hercules (pop.: 16,829) in the Bay Area. It's the home of Bio-Rad Labs, an instrument maker.
IS THE TIMES 100 A JINX?
An alumni update shows some of the companies that have finished near the top of previous Times 100 lists fell on hard times soon after. They include:
* Ashton-Tate (No. 8 on the 1988 list): Edward M. Esber resigned as chief executive of the Torrance software maker last year 1990 after the company botched the introduction of a newer version of its most successful software product.
* Micropolis (No. 27 in 1988): Chatsworth disk-drive maker lost $50 million in 1989 after encountering problems with its newer products, although it rebounded strongly last year.
* Brajdas Corp. (No. 4 in 1989): Woodland Hills electronic component firm began losing money after making the list and has withdrawn from the semiconductor business.
* Carl Karcher Enterprises (No. 69 in 1989): Founder Carl N. Karcher and six of his relatives the following year settled civil chargers of insider trading with the Securities and Exchange Commission by paying $664,000.
But not all the news was bad. . .
* Television mogul Aaron Spelling (whose Aaron Spelling Productions ranked No. 7 on The Times 100 in 1989), finally finished his 56,500-square-foot Holmby Hills mansion.
* C&R Clothiers (No. 29 in 1988) finally found five new guys to use as models in its TV ads.