Range of RI companies offer lowdown for investors

It would seem an exercise in extremes with investors exploring the prospects of Textron, a nearly $10 billion company with expectations of growing revenues to $16 billion in five years, to CytoTherapeutics, a biotechnology company still in its research phase, hoping to trim its annual losses to under $10 million.

Both companies were among seven that participated in a recent two-day event sponsored by Barrett & Company, a Providence brokerage, designed to give investors an opportunity to talk with company officials and view a half-hour presentation about each of the companies.

The two day event was held at the Crowne Plaza at the Crossings in Warwick. Following is a brief capsule of each of the companies’ presentations:

Bacou USA, Inc. (NYSE:BAU)

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Bacou, the manufacturer of workplace protective equipment, has seen revenues increase three-fold since 1995 and the company expects to maintain that growth by covering the market from head to toe.

The Smithfield-based company, which has made its mark by providing products that protect sight, hearing and respiratory systems of workers, recently purchased a manufacturer of non-disposable industrial gloves and has its eye elsewhere.

”This is a $3 to $4 billion industry. We strongly believe we can be a billion dollar company in the future,” said Walter Stepan, president and CEO. He said the company had $220 million in revenue last year and expects the number to reach $300 million this year.

Stepan said hard hats, various types of gloves, work shoes and protective suits used by firefighters or bullet proof vests are all options.

He said the company also plans to look closely at expanding international business, from 15 percent now to 50 percent.

CytoTherapeutics (NASDAQ: CTII)

This is a “critical year for CytoThera-peutics and we believe we’re poised for success,” said John S. McBride, executive vice president and chief financial officer of CytoTherapeutics.

The Lincoln-based biotechnology company is at least two or three years away from bringing to market the result of years of research in the area of chronic pain relief. But the company should know by mid-year if it is getting closer, said Elizabeth Razee, director of investor relations.

That’s when news is expected from Astra AB of Sweden, a pharmaceutical company partnering with CytoTherapeutics in the second of three clinical trials required before the Federal Drug Administration will consider approving a new therapy.

Meanwhile, CytoTherapeutics is looking for a partner to begin testing a “miniature version” of the technology aimed at curing diseases of the eye, McBride said.

CtyoTherapeutics reported a loss of about $12.6 million for the year that ended Dec. 31. The loss this year is expected to be much less, or between $7 million and $8 million, McBride said.


While GTECH talks about applying its core technologies to markets other than lotteries and gaming, don’t expect those additional products to even challenge GTECH’s quest to be the world’s number one gaming supplier.

Mary Norton of GTECH’s investor relations said the company sees opportunities in Africa, where the lottery business is just $300 million a year. The company also sees Portugal, Morocco, the Ivory Coast, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, as among several other off-shore areas that provide opportunities for growth.

GTECH, she said, is developing and implementing several new products including Player Express that would be available at supermarket check out counters, and home, interactive gaming through television, which is now a $90 million business and expected to grow to $1 billion, mostly overseas.

And the Internet offers other opportunities. The company, she said, is developing technology it calls UWin in areas where it is legal – Europe and Asia – and where Norton sees a market that minimally will grow to $600 million a year.

Over the next five years GTECH expects growth at a compounded annual rate 8 to 9 percent in service revenues, 13 to 15 percent operating profit, 14 to 16 percent net income, and 16 to 18 percent earnings per share, Norton said.

Network Six (NASDAQ: NWSS)

Network Six, the Warwick-based information technology firm whose net income soared 161 percent to $1,061,006 in 1998 hopes to expand its business into new areas, while continuing to battle the state of Hawaii over a dispute involving the company’s delivery of services.

Network Six is now trying to attract new business in the health and human services side of government. For years, the company has developed software for human service agencies.

Textron (NYSE:TXT)

If an investor bought $100 worth of Textron stock a decade ago, its value today would be $776, an investment trend that Textron’s Brian Sullivan fully expects will continue.

Sullivan, manager of Textron’s Financial Communications, said that in 1992 Textron’s revenues from its core businesses – aircraft, industrial, automotive and financial — was $4.5 billion. Today, it’s $9.7 billion, with expectations of growing 8 to 11 percent a year to $14 to $16 billion in five years, Sullivan said. He said half the growth would be from acquisitions and the remainder from internal expansion.

Textron, with headquarters in Providence has some 64,000 employees, Sullivan said, operating in 22 countries. About 35 percent of its revenues come from overseas.

For the fiscal year that ended December 31, the company reported net income of $608 million, up nearly 9 percent, on revenues of nearly $9.7 billion, up $1 billion from the previous year.

Valley Resources, Inc. (American: VR)

Regulatory changes designed to bring competition to the energy industry aren’t exactly scaring potential investors, said Alfred P. Degen, Valley Resources’ president and CEO. Investors, he said, are looking for reasonable price stability and a reasonable yield. If anything, he said, ” there’s probably a higher level of interest in it now.”

Though natural gas customers eventually will be able to find suppliers on their own, its two distribution companies have been expanding the customer base.

Valley Gas Co. is already supplying a new business in Cumberland’s Highland Corporate Park and is likely to supply a few more of the160-acre development’s future occupants. Bristol & Warren Gas Co. is expected to supply heating fuel to new buildings planned for Roger Williams University’s Bristol campus.

Alternative fuel technologies are also expected to help growth.

Alternate Energy Corp., of which Valley Resources has 80 percent interest, is building two natural gas vehicle fueling stations for the state. AEC also developed a fuel cell that allows large facilities to control fuel use.

Washington Trust (NASDAQ: WASH)

The numbers that John Warren, chief executive officer of Washington Trust Bancorp. likes to talk about are not necessarily the company’s profits or total assets – although, Warren says they are just fine – but rather the number of shareholders who reinvest their dividends into the company (71 percent), or the number of employees who are shareholders (61 percent).

Those are two figures that Warren says shows the stability, confidence and strength of a bank that later this year will celebrate its 200th anniversary.

Is Washington Trust, with assets approaching $1 billion and net income of 10.6 percent, a possible target for a takeover or merger? “You always do your best. If you do it well, shareholders don’t want to sell,” Warren said.

Washington Trust recently announced it was acquiring Pier Bank, and expanding its own management team with the hiring of John F. Treanor as president and chief operating officer. Warren will assume the chairman and CEO’s role when Treanor begins work on April 1. Treanor was executive vice president of SIS Bancorp., Inc.

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