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Don't Miss The Metrotrans Bus

Inside Wall Street


There's nothing like a turnaround. That's what has happened to Metrotrans (MTRN), a maker of shuttle and touring buses, just after its initial public offering in mid-1994, at 8 1/2. By December, 1994, the stock had dropped to 5 1/2, after earnings plunged to 1 cents a share in the fourth quarter, down from 4 cents in the third and 22 cents in the second. An unexpected spike in raw-material costs was the culprit.

"But now, we are back--firmly in a turnaround phase with costs under control and an order backlog of about $25 million," says Chairman Mike Walden. Indeed, the stock has gone north, shooting to 10 7/8 by Mar. 13.

The company is expected to exceed analysts' consensus 1995 estimate of 73 cents a share. And the 1997 estimates of 94 cents to 96 cents, says one big investor, are likely to be exceeded, as well.

"The company is exploiting its growing niche in the transportation business," says Pat Flavin of Flavin Blake, an investment firm in Stamford, Conn. Metrotrans, a supplier of buses to such customers as Alamo Rent-A-Car, Ryder System, Hyatt Hotels, and the U.S. military, has also developed markets in retirement communities, railroad stations, and corporate pooling services. It has signed a five-year contract with the U.S. General Services Administration to supply buses powered by natural gas or propane. "It's a very cheap stock here," says Flavin.BY GENE G. MARCIAL

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