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Barron's Report Helps Boost Bridgford Stock 27%


ANAHEIM — Stock in Bridgford Foods Corp. jumped 27% Monday after a published report noted that the consistently profitable and debt-free company seemed undervalued and would "make a dandy acquisition."

Analysts agreed that the report, in Monday's issue of the national financial weekly Barron's, triggered the surge in Bridgford's stock, which closed at $13, up from $10.25 a share in Friday's Nasdaq trading.

"I'm glad to see that the market is putting an appropriate price on Bridgford," said Brad Noel, an analyst at L.H. Friend, Weinress and Frankson Inc., an investment banker in Irvine.

Noel had strongly recommended the stock in his latest company report in July, when Bridgford's stock had dipped to $8 from its high of $24.75 in 1992.

Robert E. Schulze, Bridgford's president, said Monday that the company doesn't "have any real interest in selling," though it could not afford to ignore any offer.

Nonetheless, Barron's report renewed speculation about the future of the 63-year-old company, whose second-generation management is approaching retirement. Allan L. Bridgford, 60, and his brother, H. William, 63, have been running the company since founder Hugh H. Bridgford died three years ago at 82. Five third-generation Bridgfords currently work at the company, but some analysts have said it's unclear whether they are seriously interested in or suited for top management.

The Bridgford family owns two-thirds of the company, which started out in San Diego with meats but now also makes a variety of refrigerated, frozen and snack food products. It employs about 650 nationwide, including 200 in Anaheim.

About two weeks ago, Allan Bridgford, formerly president, took over his brother's duty as chairman, and the elder Bridgford became chairman of the executive committee.

Schulze, 60, who has been with Bridgford for 31 years and was formerly chief financial officer, said a clear line of succession has not been developed.

But he said all seven of the Bridgfords are actively working at the company, and "I don't see that diminishing."

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