Inside Wall Street
`WITH BEST WISHES FOR A JUICY DEAL'
Although Healthy Planet Products (HPPI) is but a tiny speck in the thriving greeting-card business, it has attracted several investors who have accumulated huge blocks of shares. They include the Bluhdorn family, which controls 24% of the stock, and the estate of Ludwig Jesselson, who was the founder of Philips Brothers and then became chairman of its successor company, Phibro-Salomon. The estate holds a 22% stake. A lawyer associated with Roy Disney's investment firm, Shamrock Holdings, has a stake of nearly 5%.
Healthy Planet designs and makes cause-related cards and stationery, as well as environmentally friendly gifts under license from such organizations as the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, and the Humane Society.
But takeover interest may disrupt the corporate peace. A large retailer is believed to be seeking to buy the company. One investor says the would-be buyer has sought the help of some big Healthy Planet shareholders to persuade management to agree. He says that the stock, trading at 8, is worth 15.
"The company has a clean balance sheet, with little debt, and has about $3 million in cash and $7.5 million in tax-loss carryforwards," notes a major investor. With the recent strong pickup in earnings, "the company has become an attractive takeover play," he says.
The company's valuation has been bolstered by recent results: Healthy Planet reported 1994 earnings of $1.9 million, or 56 cents a share, more than twice the 1993 earnings of $463,832, or 25 cents. He figures 1995 earnings will leap to 70 cents. Bruce Wilson, president, says he would accept an offer if it would help maximize shareholder value.BY GENE G. MARCIAL