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Did The Amex Turn A Blind Eye To A `Showcase' Stock?

Frank J. Barnes stood on the mezzanine of the American Stock Exchange, watching the balloons. It was Mar. 18, 1992, the birthday of the Emerging Company Marketplace, the Amex' showcase for "some of the best companies in the country," and the balloons cascading onto the trading floor were a patriotic red, white, and blue.

Sure, it was a corny spectacle. But the 49-year-old Barnes, a marketing consultant from Long Island, couldn't help but feel excited. Only six weeks before, after closing on the sale of his house, Barnes had deployed a huge slice of his nest egg--$217,000--to buy shares in a company that, he was assured, would likely be among the ECM's charter listings. And when the ECM roster came out, there it was: Printron Inc.