GSE switches stock from Nasdaq to Amex; Columbia company says move will boost its Wall Street profile; Markets


Columbia-based GSE Systems Inc. switched its stock yesterday from the Nasdaq stock market to the American Stock Exchange in an effort to garner more attention from Wall Street for the company, which has historically traded in low volumes.

"We're a small-cap company, and the Amex tends to be better suited to handling financial relations with small-cap companies," said Brian K. Southern, a GSE senior vice president.

"We don't have a staff of investor relations people and analysts. In fact, I handle investor relations here," he said.

"We can't afford to spend a lot of time marketing the company on Wall Street."

In 1997, GSE reported net sales of $79.7 million, and posted a net loss of $8.7 million, its first in four years. Year-end figures for 1998 are not available.

The Amex offers GSE an advantage because it is an auction market, said Dan Noonan, an Amex spokesman. GSE began trading on the Nasdaq when it went public in July 1995.

In an auction market, one dealer facilitates the buying and selling of a company's stock, as opposed to a dealer market, such as the Nasdaq, where dozens of dealers could sell a company's stock.

As of December, 770 companies were listed with Amex, and as of November, 5,126 companies were listed with Nasdaq.

"Large companies like Intel and Microsoft have liquid stocks, and they can trade anywhere," Noonan said. "But when you have companies like those that make up the interior of our market in terms of not being the largest caps, those kinds of companies do better on a specialist auction market."

It is not uncommon for a company to leave one stock exchange for another, Noonan said. GSE's transition was made easier because Nasdaq and Amex merged in November.

"Our goal under the new Nasdaq-Amex Market Group is to have one umbrella organization that has shared resources of marketing, visibility, technology and regulatory efficiencies," Noonan said.

"Those attributes are shared between the two trading systems. However, we both have two fundamentally different specialties," he said.

After GSE trades on the Amex for a while, Southern said, GSE expects its stock price to go up as analysts focus more on the company.

GSE, which makes and designs software and simulators that train workers in the energy and manufacturing industries, also changed its stock symbol from GSES to GVP, primarily because its old ticker symbol was not available, Southern said.

The company chose GVP to denote a new product called VirtualPlant that is scheduled to be unveiled in November, he said.

Yesterday, GSE's stock closed at $2.75, up 25 cents.

Pub Date: 1/28/99

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