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Playing The Slammer

Inside Wall Street


All the talk in Washington about getting tough on crime is prompting some strategists to look for a pure play on, what else, crime. They have come up with Mark Solutions, a designer and maker of modular prison steel cells that are cheaper and faster to build than the standard jail structures. "Mark is providing a solution to the festering problem of jail overcrowding," says Aaron Lehmann, president of Fulton Group, a research consulting firm.

Mark's cells, which meet building and safety code requirements in all states, are in use at Rikers Island in New York and a number of jails in Missouri and New Jersey. The cells, which are prefabricated and made of lightweight steel, are equipped with the basic lavatory and toilet facilities and wall-mounted beds. They are also designed to be used as containment units for prisoners afflicted with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis or AIDS. For this purpose, the units could be equipped with shower facilities, air-flow systems, and an anteroom for health-care providers.

The analyst says Mark is currently in talks with agencies in Florida, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and Texas to supply the cells. "Over the next 12 months, Mark will enter bids for $500 million worth of steel cells in these states," he says.

Lehmann believes the American Stock Exchange-listed company will turn a profit for the first time in 1994--45 a share on estimated sales of $25 million. In 1995, earnings will be $1.35 on sales of $70 million. One money manager, who owns 5% of Mark, figures that based on Lehmann's estimates, the stock, now trading at 6 1/2, could well double in a year.GENE G. MARCIAL

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