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Nasdaq Poised to Sack Quarterdeck Over Stock Price, Assets

September 02, 1998|DEBORA VRANA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Quarterdeck Corp., the former software industry powerhouse, is on the verge of being delisted from the Nasdaq market because of its depressed stock price and its failure to meet minimum asset requirements.

A delisting would be the latest blow for the troubled Marina del Rey company, which has had a rocky history in its long quest to find a niche in the volatile PC software business.

On July 13, the company was warned by the National Assn. of Securities Dealers, the parent of Nasdaq, that its stock price of less than $5 a share and low asset levels put it in danger of being delisted, Chief Financial Officer Frank Greico said. Last week, the company told NASD officials it was exploring options that would help it comply with trading regulations.

"Nobody likes the delisting process, but we're trying to avoid that, keep it from happening," Greico said.

Quarterdeck, formed 15 years ago by Therese Myers, focused on software that allows personal computer users to more easily manage memory functions and perform multiple tasks simultaneously.

But in the fast-moving tech world, continual improvements in Microsoft Corp.'s Windows software eliminated the need for many of Quarterdeck's products, sending sales and profits plummeting and dragging down the company's stock price.

Myers resigned in 1994 and the company's work force was later cut from 300 to 200. Gaston Bastiaens was brought in from Apple Computer Inc. to redirect the company.

Bastiaens went on an acquisition binge, buying more than 10 companies as he, along with King R. Lee, a management consultant who was named interim chief executive, struggled to shift the company's focus to other products such as anti-virus software and Internet software.

For a while, things improved. By late 1995, Quarterdeck's stock was trading above $30 a share, in large part due to enthusiasm about its Internet strategy. But the products didn't stack up to the hype, and as earnings fell, so did the company's share price.

This year, the stock has traded as a penny stock all year. For its latest quarter ended June 30, Quarterdeck reported a loss of $14.7 million on revenue of $8 million, contrasted with net income of $1.1 million on revenue of $21.1 million for the same period a year ago.

"What a shame," said Quarterdeck founder Myers, who now runs a digital studio in Pacific Palisades, when told of the company's delisting problems. "I haven't really followed their products at all."

On Monday, Quarterdeck's stock price fell to a 52-week low of 25 cents a share on Nasdaq. It rose slightly on Tuesday to close at 28 cents a share.

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