Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Market Monsters Buyers More Bullish Than Bookkeepers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Market Monsters Buyers More Bullish Than Bookkeepers

Article excerpt

Monsanto Co. is the region's most valuable corporation, ranked by market value. Two other local heavies, Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. and Emerson Electric Co., are usually at the top of this list, and this year they are second and third, respectively.

Market value is calculated by mutliplying the number of shares outstanding times the price of the share, figured for this ranking as of March 31.

The effect of the bull market can be seen in the market value of the top companies. Monsanto's market value is $22.6 billion, 25 percent higher than last year's leader in this department, Emerson. Monsanto's book value - which is what a company's accountants say a company is worth - actually declined a bit from last year, to $3.69 billion. That makes Monsanto's market value worth 612 percent of its book value. The market has also been good to Anheuser-Busch. Its book value increased 10 percent, while its market value jumped 20.5 percent. AB's market value is 511 percent of its book value. Nine of the top 10 companies in last year's market value rankings are among the top 10 again this year. The only one excluded is Boatmen's Bancshares Inc., which was sold to an out-of-town firm. Mercantile Bancorporation moved into the top 10, ranking ninth with a market value of $3.22 billion. Another bank from last year's list is gone, thanks to an acquisition. Mark Twain Bancshares Inc., which ranked 28th last year with a market value of $605 million, has been gobbled up by Mercantile. Ralcorp Holdings Inc. placed 20th on the list last year, but didn't qualify this year. It's a much smaller firm now, having sold its branded cereal and snack businesses to General Mills Inc. in January. The other two companies that made the list in 1996 but missed this year are Argosy Gaming Co. and Huntco Inc. Argosy had a bad year, and its stock, like those of many casino firms, has taken a beating. Huntco, which processes flat rolled carbon steel, has seen its market value drop sharply in the last year. …

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