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Sterling to Step Down as Comarco Chief

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Times Staff Writer

Walter Sterling, a longtime Comarco executive who came out of retirement to help save the struggling company, is leaving his post as chairman, chief executive and president.

Gerald D. Griffin, 53, a Comarco director and head of the Johnson Space Center in Houston from 1981 to 1986, will succeed Sterling as chairman of the Anaheim defense contracting firm.

Peter McKane, Comarco’s chief financial officer for the past year, has been promoted to the additional positions of president and chief executive. McKane, 46, has also been named a director.

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McKane and Sterling joined Comarco in August, 1987, after a management shake-up that involved the ouster of Glenn D. Buell Jr., chairman, chief executive and president, and James C. Quibodeaux, chief financial officer. Several weeks later, Comarco announced a $10-million quarterly loss.

Investment analysts credit Sterling, who had served as Comarco’s chairman from 1975 to 1983, and McKane with slashing operating costs, reducing debt by 40% and returning the firm to profitability in its latest quarter.

Although Comarco lost $12.9 million on revenue of $76 million for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, it has staged a rebound this year. The company posted earnings of $5.2 million on revenue of $21.9 million for its first quarter, which ended April 22, and it said Wednesday that it expects to post a profit for the second quarter.

“I believe the wheels are back on the wagon and the company is once again pointed toward a sound and profitable future,” Sterling said in a statement Wednesday.

Sterling, who will remain as a director and consultant to the firm, said he and his wife plan to move from Orange County to a home on the Central California coast. “We’ll be taking life easy and traveling” to South America and New Zealand, he said.

Griffin, the new chairman, praised Sterling for his “outstanding contribution to the company’s revival.”

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