News Column

Public Firms Fly into the Turbulence

June 2001

Six companies on the HISPANIC BUSINESS 500 trade their stock on public exchanges. In keeping with the general trend of the market, most of these companies have suffered in the last year. The number 1 company, MasTec Inc., has watched its shares fall to the $15 range at press time, compared to prices in the upper $50s a year ago. Likewise, the economy has lowered the price of Century Builders, a developer of moderately priced homes in Florida. Supreme International (best known for its Perry Ellis apparel brand) and Hamilton Bank also caught downdrafts, while two other financial companies International Bank of Commerce and United PanAm Financial increased their equity value over the last year.

In conjunction with our 10-year retrospective of the directory, the table below includes public companies previously on the list. (Companies that merged or were acquired by a public corporation are not included.) Two of the four companies are still controlled by their founders. Bill and Rafael Cruz still run Omega Research (renamed TradeStation Group, after its most successful software package), and Raul Alarcon heads Spanish Broadcasting. Founder Phil Roman no longer has any connection to the animation house Film Roman, and Larry Valdez now serves as corporate secretary of 3Si Inc., with a 20 percent ownership stake.

Outside of the HISPANIC BUSINESS 500 directory, activity among Hispanic-controlled public companies revolved around the media sector. In August, Z-Spanish Media Corp., a radio group that ranked number 91 on last year's HISPANIC BUSINESS 500, was purchased by Entravision Communications (EVC). Again, the slowdown in advertising affected the stock performance of Hispanic Broadcasting (HSP), Radio Unica (UNCA), Spanish Broadcasting Systems (SBSA), and Univision (UVN).

All things Internet suffered setbacks during the last year, and Hispanic entrepreneurs were no exception. In February, the portal site announced it would liquidate its assets after Nasdaq delisted the company. In the same month, Yupi Internet cancelled its planned initial public offering (IPO) because of contrary market conditions. However, several Internet companies serving the Hispanic market, including StarMedia Networks (STRM) and Terra Lycos S.A. (TRLY, as an American Deposit Receipt), continue to trade publicly.

For the upcoming year, at least one company on the 500 directory has plans to go public. Brightstar Corp., the wireless equipment wholesaler ranking number 8 on the list, has had preliminary discussions with underwriters, according to CEO Marcelo Claure. He plans to use the equity money as working capital instead of relying on current credit facilities with four banks.

Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS magazine

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