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2HRS2GO: Arthur Treacher&#039s fishes on the Net

    A speculative window opens onto a scene a few months ago, as Arthur Treachers (OTC: ATCH) executives ponder ways to revive their flagging business fortunes...

    So, what are we going to do? We're going nowhere fast with this fish-n-chips thing.

    Hey, don't write it off yet. We've been in business for a long time, and we just finished this restructuring...

    Yeah, whatever. You really think we're going to get back into the black by teaming with Miami Subs and Nathan's Hot Dogs? Pudgie's Famous Chicken? If it's so famous, how come no one outside of Pudgie ever heard of it?



    Have an opinion on this?



    Well, maybe it'll stop the bleeding, at least. What do the auditors say about our annual report?

    Don't know yet, the new guys haven't had a chance to familiarize themselves with our books.

    What do you mean? Lytkowski & Pease has had nine months since we hired them after KPMG bailed.

    Uh, we just replaced Lytkowski & Pease. It's Daris Monk & Co. now.

    Who?

    They're competent, don't worry.

    So I guess the annual report and fourth quarter 10Q will be delayed even more?

    Relax, we'll have 'em filed by April.

    Great, only 10 months after the fiscal year ended. Oh well, now that we're off the Nasdaq national market, no one cares anyway. Besides, it's actually good timing with my new plan, if you want to hear it.

    I'm all ears.

    Two words: Internet.

    Internet is one word.

    Whatever. Tomayto, tomahto, you know? The 'Net will turn us around.

    How do we sell fish and chips over the Internet? They'll be cold by the time the customer gets them.

    No, I'm talking something completely new. No one likes British food -- that's why we're down to 29 company-owned restaurants from 63 in fiscal ྜྷ, remember?

    Heh, yeah. I'm surprised we were able to sell off as many as we did to franchisees.

    It's their problem now. If we go with my plan, it'll eventually be all their problem, because we'll be out of that business altogether.

    So ... Internet. Let's hear it.

    We are going to capitalize on both the exploding demand for Web content and the new technologies that are facilitating digital and broadband content delivery.

    Speak English, please.

    We invest in companies that sell stuff for the high-speed Internet. It's the next big thing. Just ask Zapata (NYSE: ZAP), they're doing it.

    The fish oil guys? They're an Internet company now? What are some of their big Web successes?

    Uh....

    Forget I asked. Got any specific investments in mind?

    Yeah, I like this Global Computer Company. It's a subcontractor, installs high-speed modems for phone and cable companies. And check out this Our Yearbook thing, I love it, it's like an automated school alumni association, without the fundraising aspect.

    What kind of management team?

    Really top notch. Grade A.

    But according to this page, the Internet marketing manager just graduated from high school last year. The other marketing manager finished high school only five years ago.

    Exactly. They're in touch with their target audience.

    Who else is on your list?

    MademyWay.com. They sell custom-made apparel, brand names, shipping within 48 hours.

    Sounds great. Show me their website, we could use some new company shirts.

    The ordering system isn't up yet. You can get on the mailing list so you'll be notified when the store is up and running.

    Ooookay. What else?

    Comstar Interactive. The company sells pager airtime on the BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) network.

    Who needs a pager when you can get a wireless phone?

    They also make software for two-way wireless devices. It's the wave of the future.

    Can we get partnerships with big names like Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) or Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO)? I think we're going to need the help and exposure, because we don't know anything about this field.

    Have no fear. My CEO candidate has plenty of industry contacts.

    Name?

    You're going to love him: Ralph J. Sorrentino, CFO of Liberty Media (Nasdaq: LDIG).

    Liberty Media? Wow, big name company. They've done a lot on the Internet, right?

    They have some investments there, but they also plan to be big on interactive TV.

    I've never seen interactive TV.

    They're working on it. In any case, Sorrentino has tons of contacts in the Internet industry. We'll pay him $250,000 a year, give him a loan to buy stock, throw in a $750 monthly car stipend, the usual perks.

    Hey, how are we going to pay for all of this? Our losses keep growing every year. Hell, they more than doubled last year.

    That was an aberration, we had to write down $3 million in assets from those Seafood Grilles and co-branded restaurants, remember? It's finis, done, won't happen again. We can sell off the rest of the fish-n-chips business to raise more dollars.

    And how do we fund the business once the traditional operations are gone? The sale money can't last forever, and from what I hear, these Internet businesses exhale cash like air.

    Look, do you want to sell hush puppies for the rest of your life or do you want to change the world? Besides, we can hit the capital markets for additional money down the road. Wall Street loves Internet companies.

    You don't think the market will tank?

    Nah, never happen. 22GO>