Preston slashes dividend in bid to curb losses


In a move that will save the company about $1.8 million a year, the Preston Corp. slashed its dividend yesterday from 12 1/2 cents to 3 cents a quarter.

The Eastern Shore-based owner of the Preston Trucking Co. and other transportation companies hasn't made money in two years.

Declines in shipping tonnage caused Preston to lose $733,000 in its first fiscal quarter of 1991. It lost $18.7 million in all of 1990 and $850,000 the year before.

Ross Whealton, a spokesman for the trucking company, said that Preston's board of directors made the decision at a special meeting in order to save capital and make the company's dividend payout similar to that of competing companies.

Preston's stock, which closed before the announcement was made, finished the day at $8.75, up 12 1/2 cents.

Mr. Whealton said that the dividend cut might cause the stock to fall, but he suspected investors were expecting the move.

Preston, which has shut down money-losing divisions in the last year, is starting to see a rebound in trucking traffic in the last month, Mr. Whealton said.

"There has been some increase, but it is nothing to write home to mom about," he said.

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