The AbyssThese days, Dobson talks easily about "profitable growth" and its upbeat view of the future. And investors no longer need to tune out the clang of persistent warning bells when they tune in to the company's comments. Their biggest fear, after all, has already passed without event. The bank didn't snatch the keys to the company. "At the end of the day, the bank had to decide whether it wanted to own Dobson or become its partner," explained Bob Rader, senior vice president of Capital West Securities in Oklahoma City. "This way, the bank has a shot at getting its money back."
|Ringing Endorsement |
On the surface, Dobson's situation sounds almost familiar. Huge debt loads, coupled with a telecom industry meltdown, have left many wireless players withering near extinction. But Dobson managed to jump in hotter water than some. The company's largest shareholder -- a partnership owned by the Dobson family -- put the entire company at risk by pledging its majority stake in Dobson as collateral for a huge personal loan. Short-sellers pounced upon discovering the loan in late 2001. And their attack, while brief, came at the worst time. "They basically came in and left in three days," recalls Warren Henry, the company's vice president of investor relations. "But they jumped in right before Sept. 11. And after that, the entire sector got trashed."