ADVISER RETAINED AFTER BLOW TO DMD; COMEBACK SOUGHT FROM SHARE SETBACK.
A week after supply problems cost medical equipment specialist Dental/Medical Diagnostic Systems Inc. more than a third of its share price, the company hired an investment bank to help steer it back to health.
DMD has retained San Francisco-based Sutro & Co., ostensibly to manage the recall of about $18 million in warrants on the company's stock. But coming just a week after the firm announced that a manufacturing partner can't deliver a much-anticipated tooth-whitening device, the move is seen in some circles as at least in part an attempt at damage control.
News of the supply problem sent DMD shares down $2.25, or 34 percent, over the course of last week. DMD shares closed Wednesday at $4.25, up 3.12 cents.
DMD Chief Financial Officer Ron Wittman said Sutro will manage the eventual recall of more than 2 million warrants on DMD stock issued last year as part of a secondary offering. The warrants let their holders buy a corresponding number of DMD shares at $5 apiece, once the stock has traded at $9.50 or more for 10 consecutive days.
But because the company's shares are trading at only about half the target price, Wittman acknowledged it could be awhile before the recall occurs. Until then, he said, Sutro will serve as a general financial adviser to DMD, but was not hired to find a buyer for the company.
``We are not actively pursuing the sale of the company. It's not an option,'' Wittman said.
DMD ran into trouble when its manufacturing partner, Ion Laser Technology Inc. of Salt Lake City, said it could not reliably supply the company with the Apollo 9500, a machine that uses high-intensity light to bleach teeth and to cure, or harden, cavity-filling cement.
DMD had expected to roll out the $6,000 machine this quarter for sales to U.S. dentists. According to Wittman, the company spent a significant though undisclosed amount on marketing preliminaries.
Instead of launching the Apollo 9500, DMD has applied to the Food and Drug Administration for domestic approval of a similar device, built in France, that it already sells internationally. Until this other product is on the market, DMD will use money raised through a $4 million-plus private placement the company conducted in March, Wittman said.
Jeffrey Berg, an analyst at New Jersey-based M.H. Meyerson, said the switch in machines will set the company back about three months in its U.S. sales plans, but that DMD ultimately is well placed in the growing dental technology sector.
Berg said the company's share price will ``unquestionably'' rebound.
``It's a temporary, not a long-term, setback,'' Berg said.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 14, 1998|
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