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NASDAQ TIGHTENING BULLETIN BOARD RULES; MOST AREA FIRMS ON LIST MEET NEW STRINGENT REQUIREMENTS.

Byline: Ben Sullivan Daily News Staff Writer

Changes in listing requirements will make it harder for many small, publicly traded companies to get on or stay listed on Nasdaq's OTC Bulletin Board.

But you wouldn't know it by looking at firms in the San Fernando and surrounding valleys.

Of 15 local companies on the bulletin board, just three do not already meet the new, more stringent requirements being proposed by Nasdaq's ruling board. By comparison, about half of the 6,800 companies traded nationally on the bulletin board are expected to be pushed off if the proposed rules are adopted.

And that, said investor relations consultant Amy Montano, reflects an ambitious cluster of local companies. Montano's Los Angeles-based Investors Information Services advises small to midsize companies on investor and regulatory relations.

Though it may sound like a genuine stock market, the Nasdaq bulletin board has no listing requirements and few hard and fast rules. It is generally considered the B-list for publicly traded companies, host to firms too small to attract wide investor attention.

Until now, it took just one sponsoring brokerage firm for a stock to trade on the bulletin board, and that brokerage wasn't required to tell prospective investors any financial information about the company.

The new rules will require firms on the bulletin board to file regular financial data with the Securities and Exchange Commission, just like companies on the full Nasdaq do, or risk being dropped down to the even less glamorous Pink Sheets. Brokers also will be required to certify they have reviewed a company's current financial statements before recommending its stock.

Because Nasdaq's governing board - the National Association of Securities Dealers - hasn't required disclosure, ``the only reason for a small company to file with the SEC was if they aspired to full listing'' on Nasdaq, Montano said.

And that's just what many Valley-area companies appear to have been thinking.

``We have a good story to tell, and in addition to press releases, SEC filings are a good way to get the message out,'' said Laird Robertson, chief executive officer of North Hollywood-based Camera Platforms International Inc.

Robertson said his firm is anxious to get listed on Nasdaq's main board, and he believes a track record of SEC filings - even though not required - will help his company's cause when it is ready to make the leap.

Reflecting a widely held opinion among local bulletin board companies, Robertson said the tighter listing requirements only help legitimate companies gain investor respect. ``It creates a higher level of confidence,'' he said.

Indeed, the proposed changes were prompted by a string of investor fraud scams emanating from bulletin board companies.

Of the three companies locally that do not file, two plan to begin filing in 1998.

Valencia-based Air Packaging Technologies Inc., which makes packaging materials used in the computer industry, had been plagued with quality control problems that required the firm's full resources, said CEO Garvin McMinn. Those problems have been resolved, he said.

``Filing would have been just another expense,'' McMinn said. ``We weren't ducking the SEC.''

Simi Valley-based Golden Systems Inc. similarly said it plans to begin filing as soon as possible.

Only officials with Thousand Oaks-based Los Robles Bancorp. said they do not plan to begin filing to meet the new requirements.

The reason, said CEO Bob Hamilton, is the company's shares are already so closely held by investors that there is virtually no liquidity. And because the company is not looking to raise new funds, he said, there is no overriding benefit to remaining listed.

``If we were going to do an acquisition then we'd have to go get some money,'' Hamilton said. But as it stands, ``we've got about 300 stockholders who just aren't too anxious to let the stock go.''

FILE FRIENDLY?

Fifteen local companies traded on Nasdaq's Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, and all but three already meet new, more stringent filing requirements by the National Association of Securities Dealers.

Company (Ticker symbol) / Headquarters

Primary business / Market cap (in millions)

Air Packaging Technologies Inc. (AIRP) / Valencia

Computer packaging materials / $5.45

Camera Platforms Intl. Inc (CPFR) / Valencia

Movie equipment / $4.66

Children's Wonderland Inc. (CWIC) / Agoura

Family care / $0.25

Conectisys Corp. (CNES) / Agua Dulce

Petrochemical / $0.49

DCC Compact Classics Inc. (DCCC) / Northridge

Music compact disks / $2.94

Dycam Inc. (DYCA) / Chatsworth

Digital cameras / $0.39

Golden Systems Inc. (GLDN) / Simi Valley

Computer switching equipment / $0.14

Interscience Computer Corp. (INTRQ) / Agoura Hills

Computer maintenance / $1.67

Los Robles Bancorp (LSRB) / Thousand Oaks

Banking / $12.72

Medroup Inc. (MDGP) / Encino

Pharmaceutical transportion equipment / $0.24

Ora Electronics (ORAE) / Chatsworth

Cellular equipment / $13.21

Perceptronics Inc. (PCTR) / Woodland Hills

Computer systems / $1.47 million

SeQuester Holdings Inc. (SQST) / Westlake Village

Diet supplements / $1.55

USA International Chemical Inc. (USXC) / Woodland Hills

Chemicals / $1.34

Voice Powered Technology Inc. (VPTI) / Tarzana

Voice-recognition electronics / $0.32

CAPTION(S):

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Chart: (Color) FILE FRIENDLY (see text)
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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 18, 1997
Words:819
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