Trading of Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s stock has been suspended on the New
York Stock Exchange.
According to a statement released today, trading of Bethlehem’s common
stock, $5 and $2.50 cumulative convertible preferred stock, and 8.45 percent
debentures due March 1, 2005, have all been suspended on the NYSE.
Effective today, the statement said, Bethlehem’s common stock is being
quoted on the OTC Bulletin Board (“OTCBB”) under the new ticker symbol “BHMS.”
Meanwhile, its $5 (BHMSO) and $2.50 (BHMSN) cumulative convertible preferred
stocks are not currently being quoted on the OTCBB, but Bethlehem does
expect them to be in the future, provided market makers file the appropriate
applications with the OTCBB. Similarly, the company expects the 8.45 percent
debentures to be quoted on the National Quotation Service’s “Yellow Sheets,”
provided that market makers file those applications as well.
The de-listing of Bethlehem stock follows the company’s notification of the
NYSE in December that its stock had fallen before the NYSE’s continued
listing criteria relating to minimum price. The NYSE requires a company’s
stock to trade at a minimum share price of $1 over a 30-day trading period.
Bethlehem fell below $1 with the announcement Oct. 15 of its bankruptcy and
has remained there ever since. It closed at 25 cents Tuesday.
The NYSE did grant Bethlehem a grace period of six months in which to
conform to the continued listing criteria.
In practical terms, the de-listing of Bethlehem’s stock will have little
impact on its efforts to survive Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Historically, however, it proves a watershed of sorts, the latest watershed
in a period which has seen the builder of Liberty ships in World War II
founder and struggle for life. Bethlehem was founded in 1904 and its stock
began to trade on the NYSE not long after, in 1906. In 1928 it became a blue
chip traded on the Dow, where it remained until 1997, when it returned to
Bethlehem’s old stock symbol—BS—is itself an artifact of happier times. The
shorter a company’s symbol, the older the company tends to be.