Total Research For Under A Buck?

It has been a rule in this column never to feature a stock selling for $1 or less. But here's an exception: Total Research (TOTL), a specialized market-researcher, is teetering at a price of around 1 a share--less on some days. But that could change soon, say some smart-money investors who have been buying.

Here's what got one New York money manager to start: On the Total Research list of clients are some of the bluest chips of American business--AT&T, IBM, Motorola, American Airlines, MCI, and Prudential Insurance. What does Total sell? Full-service research of a specialized kind: Total provides "predictive statistical market research"--measuring how consumers value a product or brand. "Marketing strategy is usually based on such research," says Richard Geist, editor of Geist's Strategic Investing.

Total's customers pay big bucks for the service: No matter how modest Total's operations are, it makes good money. In the second quarter that ended on Dec. 31, 1994, Total posted record results: Sales advanced 51%, and earnings jumped 174%. In the year ended June 30, 1994, Total had profits of $647,000, or 7 cents a share, on sales of $13.6 million.

For fiscal year 1995, Geist estimates earnings of 13 cents a share on revenues of $24 million. With Total's goal of expanding its operations overseas, Geist sees 1996 earnings of 24 cents on $50 million. Based on such growth, says Geist, "the stock is way undervalued and could hit 4 in a year."

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.