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VALLEY STOCKS : Entertainment Companies Lead as Stocks Climb

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Stock prices for most San Fernando Valley-area companies rose during the first quarter of the year, led by entertainment companies and firms that may be takeover candidates.

Gainers outnumbered losers 3 to 2 for the quarter that ended March 31. Of 56 stocks of major companies in the Valley area, 31 rose in price in the quarter, 20 fell, and five were unchanged.

The results, compiled for The Times by Communications Research Group of Austin, Tex., included stocks of companies with headquarters in the area from Glendale to Camarillo, whose shares traded publicly for more than $3 at the start of the quarter.

Overall, stocks rose during the quarter. The Dow Jones industrial average, the most widely followed stock barometer, rose in the same period 5.8%, or 125.05 points, to close at 2293.62.

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The biggest gainer for the quarter was a puzzle. The stock of Networks Electronic Corp., a Chatsworth maker of bearings and explosive devices, jumped 84% to $7.13 a share. The company has declined to comment on the increase. Company board members and analysts have said they are unaware of any reason why the stock would jump.

UES Stock Plunges

The biggest loser was United Education & Software, an Encino chain of vocational schools. The company’s stock fell from $3.63 a share to $1.50 in the quarter. United Education’s stock, which traded as high as $16 a share a year ago, has taken a drubbing the past few months after a government-led review found widespread problems in a unit the company formerly owned that tracked student loans for clients via computer.

Live Entertainment, a Newbury Park conglomerate that produces and distributes films on videocassette, was the biggest gainer among entertainment companies. The company’s stock rose 35% to $28 a share in the quarter. In March, Live Entertainment reported that it earned $10.6 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to a profit of $1.3 million a year earlier, with sales rising 54% to $132 million.

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The stock of Walt Disney, the Burbank entertainment giant that continues posting improved profits because of strong performances by its theme parks, rose 19% in the quarter to $78.50 a share.

‘E.T.’ Boosts MCA

Another gainer was MCA, the Universal City giant whose earnings soared to a record $75.7 million in the fourth quarter, largely because of videocassette sales of Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.--The Extra-Terrestrial.” MCA’s stock rose 16% in price to $52.75 a share. Last week, reports surfaced that Japan’s Sony Corp. was about to buy MCA. Sony quickly denied the reports.

Among takeover candidates, Dataproducts, a Woodland Hills maker of computer printers, rose 24% to $16.75. A New York investment group that owns about 7% of the firm’s stock had said it wants to buy the company. In response, Dataproducts’ directors authorized the company’s investment bankers to look for other prospective buyers.

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The stock of St. Ives Laboratories, a Chatsworth maker of shampoo and skin creams, rose 82% to $16.13 a share on Wall Street rumors that the company might be bought. St. Ives issued a statement saying it is not negotiating with potential suitors. St. Ives’ management owns more than half of the stock, so a hostile takeover bid is highly unlikely.

Shares of House of Fabrics, a Sherman Oaks chain of fabric stores periodically termed a potential acquisition in Wall Street rumors, rose 10% in the quarter to $23.75 a share.

Sierracin’s stock rose 19% to $7.75 a share. Earlier this month, the Sylmar aerospace company disclosed that a group led by Chairman Christoph Tribull is considering buying the company.

Aborted Takeover

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One company’s stock fell because takeover plans fell through. The stock of AME, a Burbank video post-production company, fell 23% to $10 a share in the quarter. A $13.75-a-share bid launched by Chairman Andrew M. McIntyre was scrapped by McIntyre in February because he was unable to finance the buyout “on satisfactory terms.” AME also ended talks last month with an unidentified third party that was interested in buying the company.

Software Toolworks, a fast-growing publisher of entertainment and educational software for personal computers, had a big quarter as its stock rose 38% to $6.88 a share. The Chatsworth company, led by former network talk-show host Les Crane, also disclosed in the quarter that it is buying for an undisclosed amount DS Technologies, a software publisher in West Chicago, Ill.

Amgen, a biotechnology company in Thousand Oaks, saw its stock rise 21% to $41 a share in the quarter. Amgen’s shares had risen in anticipation of Food and Drug Administration approval of its new anti-anemia drug erythropoietin, or EPO.

But approval has been delayed by a federal judge, who ordered Amgen to amend its application to sell EPO. The order came in a case in which Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp., a division of Johnson & Johnson, sued Amgen, asserting that the company broke a marketing agreement for the drug. Last week, Amgen said it would post a quarterly loss of up to $10 million because of delays in bringing EPO to market.

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10 BIGGEST VALLEY AREA STOCK WINNERS FOR 1ST QUARTER

Closing Price on Percent Stock 3/31/89 Change Line of Business Networks Electronic $7.13 +84 Aerospace St. Ives $16.13 +82 Hair care ATI Medical $6.63 +77 Medical equipment Software Toolworks $6.88 +38 Software Live Entertainment $28.00 +35 Entertainment Dataproducts $16.75 +24 Computer Printers Amgen $41.00 +21 Biotechnology American Magnetics $4.50 +20 Electronic equipment Superior Industries $23.63 +20 Car wheels Sierracin $7.75 +19 Aerospace

Note: Excludes stocks whose Jan. 1, 1989, price was below $3.00 a share Source: Communications Research Group, Austin, Tex.

10 BIGGEST VALLEY AREA STOCK LOSERS FOR 1ST QUARTER

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Closing Price on Percent Stock 3/1/89 Change Line of Business United Education $1.50 -59 Vocational schools Olson Inds $2.75 -35 Plastic packages HOH Water $2.16 -30 Water systems AME Inc. $10.00 -23 Film services Judy’s $2.50 -23 Clothing Valley Federal $10.50 -21 Savings & loan Delphi Info Sys $6.75 -18 Software Truvel $3.50 -18 Scanners Flamemaster $5.63 -17 Coatings Semtech $3.25 -13 Electronics

Note: Excludes stocks whose Jan. 1, 1989 price was below $3.00 a share


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