The Boonies Are Booming

When Salem Abraham bid to handle part of Smith Barney Inc.'s derivatives portfolio, the New York brokerage firm was skeptical. After all, instead of working out of skyscraper offices in Manhattan or Chicago, Abraham does his trading from a three-story building in Canadian, Tex. (population 2,500), amid the loamy mesas two hours northeast of Amarillo. Abraham showed a Smith Barney manager who trekked to Canadian his two satellite dishes, his 14 lines for phones, fax, and modems, and his 11 personal computers. But what really sold her was a campfire dinner at his cattle ranch that night. As they chowed down on chicken-fried steak, the cellular phone in his pickup started to shrill: Japan's currency was falling, and Abraham's floor trader in Tokyo wanted to unload 1.5 billion yen. "We started trading right there by the campfire," recalls Abraham. Within a week, Smith Barney added its funds to Abraham's $130 million under management.

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