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[From The Archives] The Singular Henry Singleton – 1979 Forbes Profile

"One of the three most profitable multibillion-dollar companies in the U.S., and a brilliant performer in a dull stock market, Teledyne, Inc. is a unique company. In no way more than in style and contrary thinking of the man who runs it." -- Forbes July 9, 1979.

Dr. Henry E. Singleton was one of the most efficient business operators, capital allocators and great minds of the last century. Over a few decades Singleton took a struggling military contractor and turned it into one of America's largest conglomerates. During 1979, near the height of Singleton, and Teledyne's success, Forbes Magazine ran a profile on Singleton's business empire, detailing how he'd managed to achieve such a staggering performance over the years. This is a short summary of that profile.

The singular Henry Singleton

"His record speaks for itself. Until 1960 Teledyne did not even exist. Five years ago, when it was barely 14 years old, it ranked 202nd among major U.S. corporations listed in Forbes' Profits 500. Year by year it has climbed the in the Forbes lists and last year stood [at] number 68, an upstart that had climbed over the heads of great American corporations like International Paper, Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE:AVP) Products, Texas Instruments, Ingersoll-Rand. When the 1979 listings come out next year, Teledyne is almost guaranteed to have moved up several more rungs on the profits ladder." -- Forbes July 9, 1979.

Teledyne's growth was nothing short of impressive. The company reported revenues of $1.2 billion for 1970. By 1974, revenues hit $1.7 billion. Two years later, revenues had jumped a further 12% to $1.9 billion and by 1979, revenues surged to over $2.6 billion. From 1969 through to 1978, Teledyne’s revenue jumped 89%, net profit more than triple and earnings per share, thanks to constant tender offers and buybacks, soared 1,226%.

Known as the ‘master of capital allocation’, Henry Singleton made as much use as possible of Mr. Market’s (Singleton’s view of the market was based on a similar view presented by the Godfather of value investing Benjamin Graham) unpredictable and manic depressive nature while he was running Teledyne. During the 1960s, Singleton...


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