Plenty of Toner at Imagistics

Spun off by Pitney Bowes on Dec. 3, 2001--during one of the worst bear markets ever--Imagistics International (IGI ) achieved the nearly impossible: The stock has managed to stay way above its initial price of 12 a share: It's currently at 18.95. Chairman Marc Breslawsky attributes the stock's strong showing to the support of some big institutional investors who know Imagistics' products and services quite well.

The company, formerly a Pitney Bowes unit that marketed its copying and fax machines, is the largest independent provider of such machines, including those made by giants Panasonic and Minolta. Imagistics' customers in the $17 billion market include some 60% of the world's blue-chip companies, including IBM, Citigroup, and the U.S. Postal Service. "One of the key strengths of Imagistics is the fact that it doesn't make anything--it relies on major manufacturers in Asia," says Herbert Hardt, a partner at investment firm Monness, Crespi, Hardt, who rates the stock a buy. (He doesn't own shares.) One distinct feature of Imagistics products, he says, is that they are customized to the needs of major customers. Hardt figures Imagistics will earn 80 cents a share this year and $1.25 in 2003.

By Gene G. Marcial

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