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RE: THI questionable practices?

Greg wrote:

> I've been poking around, but I've been unable to find references to
> THI questionable accounting practices. Do you remember or can you find
> that reference again?

Just found it.  From the July 1998 Better Investing, the "Repair Shop"
column, written this time by Maury Elvekrog.  He's actually talking about
Thermo Electron (TMO), the parent company of our Thermo Instrument (THI).
Here's what he has to say:

Thermo Electron is a special and unusual case.  On the surface, it seems to
be a company doing well, with a variety of divisions manufacturing high-tech
products.  However, on more in-depth analysis, it becomes clear that a
considerable part of its growth has been through financial maneuvers.  It
has brought many of its divisions public as separate subsidiaries and is
making profits selling the stock of these subsidiaries.

For instance, in 1997 the company made $80 million selling the stock of
subsidiaries and $406 million in pre-tax operating earnings.  In 1996, the
ratio was even more extreme, with $127 million taken in from selling stock
and $246 million from running the businesses. The company depends on the
proceeds from these stock sales to fund its huge research and development
budget.  Being able to continue this process will depend entirely on the
stock market's evaluation of the subsidiaries and is not something to count
on.  In addition, the "smoke and mirrors" approach is certainly something I
find distasteful and makes me wonder if other games are being played with
the financials.  Personally, I would not want to hold Thermo Electron and
would sell.

[End of excerpt.]

I'm not sure how much these comments apply to THI.  Has THI spun off any
subsidiaries itself?  It wouldn't surprise me if TMO were hurting in this
bearish market: depressed stock prices will cut into their revenues from
selling stock in its subsidiaries.  But if THI doesn't do that kind of thing
itself, it shouldn't be so affected.

Has anyone heard any more solid theories about why THI has fallen so low?