The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

SCI on the Skids

Edited By Robert Bryce, October 8, 1999, News

Forget Eliza May. Service Corporation International has bigger worries. Last Friday, the funeral giant saw its stock price fall yet again after it announced it would not meet third quarter revenue projections. The news sent the stock down 25% to close at $7.87. On Tuesday, the stock fell further, to $7.62. A year ago, the company's stock was selling for $45.

SCI blamed the earnings shortfall on "weakened death rates" and "inclement weather conditions in the southeastern United States." The latest news follows on the heels of several disappointments. In January, the company saw its stock price fall from $34.44 to $19.12 in one day after it announced it would not meet earnings expectations. The string of poor financial information, combined with a spate of class action and tort actions brought by stockholders and consumers, doesn't bode well for the Houston-based death care company. In addition, SCI's CEO, Robert Waltrip, will be required to testify within the next few weeks in the whistleblower lawsuit brought against the company by May, the former executive director of the Texas Funeral Service Commission. Despite the problems, Waltrip, who may be the world's highest-paid undertaker, remains upbeat. In a statement, Waltrip said SCI remains "focused on our core funeral and cemetery operations" and is "dedicated to maintaining and increasing market share." For more, go to SCI's Web page:

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