For 13 years, the executives of Sonex Research Inc., a tiny, Annapolis-based technology company, have been predicting that the big breakthrough in the company's development of a diesel engine piston that can significantly reduce emissions is just around the corner.
That continued at yesterday's annual meeting, with new promises of a big payoff.
The meeting was more congenial than last year's, when frustrated shareholders shouted that they were tired of hearing that the company was close to a production agreement. Yesterday's session ended with applause from the estimated 70 shareholders at the Riva Conference Center after an investor told Sonex officials that they should be congratulated for their tenacity.
Lawrence H. Hyde, the company's president, told shareholders that Sonex had reached an agreement with an engine manufacturer, a fuel injection company and a research laboratory to produce an engine that will meet future emission standards without the use of expensive add-on equipment such as a catalytic converter.
All of the parties except Sonex are based in Europe, he said. As in the past, all company names and the countries where they are based were kept secret.
"We would like to identify them, but they demand secrecy," said Andrew A. Pouring, chief executive of Sonex.
Pouring has been working on development of the new piston since the late 1970s, when he was head of aerospace engineering at the Naval Academy. He left the academy in 1980 to found Sonex.
The company went public in 1985 with promises of annual sales of $100 million in five years and a stock price soaring to more than $24 a share.
Sonex has yet to post an annual profit. Its stock, which is traded over-the-counter, closed yesterday at 51 cents a share.
Pub Date: 6/17/98