After seven years as part of a corporate conglomerate, the aerospace giant Thiokol Inc. will become an independent company once again this summer.
For most of a decade, Thiokol has been a part of Morton Thiokol Inc. in a merger that combined salt, air bags and specialty chemical production with Thiokol's manufacture of rocket motors.As of July 1, Morton Thiokol will become two separate companies - Morton International Inc. and Thiokol Inc.
Best known as the builder of the space shuttle's booster rockets, Thiokol will have revenues of $1.1 billion and 12,000 employees while Morton International will have revenues of $1.4 billion and 8,400 employees.
The corporate restructuring will not affect employment. The firm, with more than 60 percent of its operations and 7,400 employees in Utah, will remain one of the state's largest private employers.
Ogden, where the company's management is based, could become Thiokol's new corporate headquarters.
Edwin Garrison, who was named president and chief executive officer of the new company, said Ogden "certainly would have a head start" in consideration for the headquarters and the 100 jobs it would bring.
The company's independence will give it more control over its own destiny, but Thiokol's reincarnation as a public company will begin with investors wary of its long-term prospects.
Most of Thiokol's revenues come from NASA and the Defense Department. Increased military spending is unlikely in the near future, and the company suffered a wave of bad publicity after the destruction of the shuttle Challenger, which was blamed on a faulty Thiokol booster.
"The focus of investment has been on the negative problems of Thiokol," said Mary O'Neill, a business analyst with Duff & Phelps Inc. "They've been in the media, and always in a negative fashion."
Although Thiokol garnered the headlines, the specialty chemicals and salt businesses garnered most of the profits. The aerospace division accounted for 28.2 percent of Morton Thiokol's profits in its 1988 fiscal year. Specialty chemicals, in contrast, accounted for 52 percent of the company's profits.
The dim prospects for military contractors was a major factor in Morton Thiokol deciding to spin off Thiokol.
"We have not been valued as a specialty chemicals company because we have a substantial aerospace company," said Thomas Russell, vice president of corporate development and strategic planning for Morton Thiokol.
Yet Thiokol has a broad array of government contracts that should provide a steady stream of revenues until at least the mid-1990s.