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1998-04-07 17:25:11


Merrill Lynch Identifies Compliant Firms: None



Merrill Lynch was asked to name compliant firms. It reported: none.

This is from the San Jose [California] MERCURY (April 3).

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ATLANTA -- Computer programmers are responsible for setting up the most disastrous blind date in history -- the Year 2000 problem.

In order to help investors avoid the problem in their portfolios, a query was put to several Wall Street firms: Can you identify any public companies, other than those working to fix the situation, that are out of the woods as far as the Year 2000 problem is concerned?

``As far as Merrill Lynch is concerned, the answer is no,'' said spokeswoman Meredith Kelly in New York, in a typical response. . . .

So what companies are safe for investors to own?

``The problem is, everybody says they're ready,'' said Jack White, research director of Interstate/Johnson Lane. And, if a company didn't claim to be in good shape, according to other analysts, it would face immediate legal problems.

``The chain is only as strong as its weakest link,'' added White, meaning that a given company may have cleaned up its own problems. But the clean company would still be at risk from bad data shipped its way from the computers of other companies or individuals. . . .

``I don't think anyone is out of the woods yet,'' said banking analyst R. Harold Schroeder of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Some banking companies ``have flashlights and compasses, at least -- companies like Wachovia and First Union.''


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