Bethlehem Steel Dropped From NYSE
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Bethlehem Steel’s stock, after nearly a century on the New York Stock Exchange and nearly seven decades in the Dow Jones Industrial Average as the company forged steel for skyscrapers and bridges and built ships for World War II, traded for last time Tuesday before being dropped from the exchange.
The stock trading under the BS symbol dropped 4 cents to close at 25 cents a share in trading. Bethlehem Steel’s shares, which had been as high as $3.99 last June, had plunged to 15 cents the day after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 15.
The stock hadn’t topped $1 a share since then, violating a New York Stock Exchange requirement that a stock not have an average closing price of less than $1 over any 30-day period. The exchange said the stock would be suspended before the opening of trading on Wednesday and said that Bethlehem Steel agreed not to challenge the decision.
A Bethlehem Steel spokeswoman, Bette Kovach, confirmed that, and said the stock would switch to over the counter trading on Wednesday.
Bethlehem Steel stock was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1906, and the steelmaker was part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1928 to 1997, Kovach said.
In a changing economy, Bethlehem Steel, Texaco, Westinghouse and Woolworth were dropped from the average that year and Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Travelers Group and Wal-Mart were added, she said.
The company that was once a symbol of American might, forging girders for the Empire State Building and Golden Gate Bridge, slumped in recent years under competition from low-cost foreign steel and high labor and retiree-benefit costs for 13,000 active employees and 74,000 pensioners. Bethlehem Steel had reported losses for five consecutive quarters when it filed for bankruptcy protection.
Getting the stock relisted isn’t a company priority, Kovach said. She said the main goal is negotiating agreements with partners to operate its plants as joint ventures, with Bethlehem Steel remaining only as a holding company to pay obligations such as the retiree benefits.
Holders of the 130.9 million outstanding shares saw any hopes that their stock would regain value evaporate when that strategy was outlined following the bankruptcy filing, said Leo Larkin, an analyst with Standard and Poor’s. Delisting the stock just made it final, he said.
``It’s kind of an afterthought,″ Larkin said. ``The shares are essentially worthless and have been for some time.″