Ready To Sizzle In The Kitchen

Investment mogul Avi Glazer is a silent stakeholder who has scored heady 30% to 60% annual returns by taking controlling stakes in companies he sees as undervalued. Some of the outfits whose shares he has bought and sold for tantalizing gains include Harley Davidson, Tonka, and Formica. So what's Glazer's latest catch? One stock he says promises to be a home run: Specialty Equipment (SPEQ), a big maker of commercial and institutional food-service equipment.

The company's Taylor unit is the largest U.S. maker of soft-ice-cream machines, which are used, for instance, at McDonald's restaurants--along with Taylor cooking grills. Taylor also makes "reach-in" glass-door refrigerators, used to display beverages in supermarkets and fast-food places.

Already, the shares have perked up--to 113/4 on Apr. 25, from 9 early in the year. Glazer has taken a 45% stake and describes the company as "one of the clearest cases of unrecognized value on the Street." What's its secret?

Specialty Equipment has posted paper losses for the past three years because of noncash write-downs resulting from the company's emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy three years ago. Without them, the company would have earned 59 cents a share in fiscal 1994 and 99 cents in fiscal 1995. In 1996, earnings are expected to increase to $1.25, according to one insider.

Glazer, who started buying when the stock was at 5, says the write-downs will end in the current quarter. He expects the stock to hit 20 in a year.

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