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Premier Laser Resumes Trading on Nasdaq Market

Stocks: In its first outing since May 22, the Irvine firm's shares close about 25% below price from its last session.

October 23, 1998|BARBARA MARSH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The stock of Premier Laser Systems Inc., the Irvine developer of highly touted dental lasers, resumed trading Thursday, closing about 25% below its price before trading was halted in May.

The shares closed at $3.13, off $1.06 from the price on May 22, the last session before trading was halted after the company's auditor resigned.

Colette Cozean, the company's chairman, said she considered the stock's performance heartening. "Most people thought it would stay in the $2 range, but it traded in the range of $3 and $4 nearly all day," she said.

Last week, a company laser received Food and Drug Administration approval for treating children's cavities. But the impact on the stock appeared to be modest Thursday, unlike the huge surge last year when the same laser was approved for use on adult teeth. The stock shot up from $6 to $16 a share after that initial announcement.

The spate of negative news about the company earlier this year has made investors wary, said John Doss Jr., analyst with Dominick & Dominick in New York.

Premier's stock had slumped after the company became involved in a dispute with a key distributor, restated two years of earnings, and was hit with the resignation of its outside auditor.

Noting that the stock fell to $2.13 a share at one point Thursday, Doss said, "You had a whole group of people who said, 'Just get me out of this thing.' "

But other investors see that the company has a chance for a fresh start, he added.

Doss said the company must prove it can persuade dentists to switch to the laser, which costs about $39,000, much more than the traditional drill.

Cozean said the device's reception at an American Dental Assn. meeting in San Francisco this weekend is a key to its future.

"This meeting will allow dentists to see that we are still here with the best laser technology in the industry," she said.

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Premier Trading Again

Shares of Premier Laser Systems resumed trading Thursday after a five-month trading ban was lifted by Nasdaq. The stock, which had lost nearly two-thirds of its value in the three months before the ban, closed at $3.13--down $1.06 from its price before trading was halted in late May. Weekly closing prices:

March 6: $11.50

March 13: $11.19

March 20: $10.69

March 27: $10.50

April 3: $10.00

April 10: $9.00

April 17: $6.81

April 24: $7.66

May 1: $6.31

May 8: $5.63

May 15: $5.00

May 22: $4.19

(Trading halted)

Thursday close: $3.13

Source: Bloomberg News

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