Saturday, March 9, 2024

All You Need Is Cash

Well, here's the last of the Topps Annual Reports that were dispatched to me last year by Friend o'the Archive David Eskenazi, covering 1983 (with a very interesting addendum).

1983 looked a lot like 1982, report-wise.  The cover is minimalist, yet effective:

The Nature of Business Statement expanded by a paragraph from 1982:

I'm not sure why these had to be so specific as the annual reports usually had enough detail to get the point of the various business ventures across.  To wit, here is page one of the Shareholders letter, bearing a lot of good news:

Thanks to BFF o'the Archive Jeff Shepherd, we can see what the Sweet 'N Low sell sheet looked like:

I'm not sure the product sold all that well as there seems to be a lack of surviving examples.
Otherwise, things were steadily moving onward and upward:

A number of accounting method changes litter the rest of the 1983 report, which is chock-a-block with tables.  I'm not sure if those changes had anything to do with this...

...but check these figures out. You can see why the Board of Directors was in favor of the merger (with itself!), as it was gonna make most of 'em all a lot richer:

Driving all of this seems to be a surge in the common stock price, which really took off after a two-for-one split in April of 1983:

Here's some quick math on the shares going to the BOD, using a pricing of 25 dollars per share.  Arthur T. Shorin's 850,000 shares would be worth a cool $21,250,000 once the deal closed. How about Sy Berger?  His 250,000 shares would bring $6,250,000 and he wasn't even on the Board! And this is in 1984 dollars. Multiply it out to 2024 and it's almost three times as much. Whew! You can see why this notice ran almost 80 pages as there was a lot of verbiage about how wonderful the merger would be for all shareholders. You can also see how valuable Sy Berger was to Topps.

Coming back to earth, we get a nice snapshot of the various Topps properties held at the time of the Special Meeting:

Proxy Statement Note 3 mentions it cost Topps $414,000 a year to lease the Duryea Plant but that title would pass to Topps once the lease expired in 1986, assuming the remaining payments were made. In other words, Lease-to-Buy.

The 1980's were a heady time for Topps, although the bubble would eventually burst (sorry, had to do it.)

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