continued The market value of Titan stock soared 965 percent in 1999 to $2 billion. The stock hit $48.37 a share in 1999 and then climbed to $60.50 in early 2000 before the brutal bear market hit, pummeling telecom stocks in particular.
In 2000, with great fanfare, Titan announced that it was launching mobile wireless service in Benin. The nation's president placed the first call. Ray was among the dignitaries on hand for the press conference in Benin.
But Titan and others in the industry didn't realize that telecom was vastly overbuilt. Prices collapsed. On July 11, 2002, Titan announced it was exiting international telecom. "June was an incredibly difficult month for Titan Wireless," groaned Ray in a teleconference call. Titan Wireless had lost $4 million in the second quarter. The company would take a $200 million write-off as a cost of pulling out of international telecom.
But Ray had soothing words. Its SureBeam operation "solves a national health problem" and "has the potential to be built into a billion-dollar-plus enterprise," he said. Benin owed Titan $50 million, but "we expect to go after and collect that," said another top Titan exec.
Alas, SureBeam filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in January of this year. Titan is still owed a bundle of money by Benin. Lockheed Martin will pay $22 a share for Titan shares -- if the deal goes through.
Two years ago, a stock market research organization named Spin-Off Research did a study on Titan. At the time, the stock was selling for $11. Spin-Off said it was worth between $3.25 and $6.10. "Titan's management attempts to game capital markets and place the highest valuation on Titan stock," said the report, commenting on how the company "pandered to investors." Titan's strategy has been to run up the stock with bold claims, then use that expensive stock for acquisitions. The strategy has backfired; investors have lost value, said Spin-Off.
Funny. That, in essence, is what the anonymous letter writer said, too. It's sorta like voodoo.