Fla. Fishing Pier The Business An 825-foot fishing pier extending into the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors and locals from the tourist-rich, steadily growing region pay gate fees for the chance to land cobia, pompano, and blackfin tuna -- some of which end up under the broiler in the walk-up restaurant that accounts for 60% of the pier's revenues.

Financial Summary (in $ thousands)

1988 1989 1990
Gross sales $155 $172 $190

Recast pretax profit 85 90 100

Price $590,000

Outlook Fishing is a relaxed business -- and a relaxed way of life is what's for sale here. Because the pier is surrounded by 20 miles of pristine national seashore and protected by a lease that runs until the year 2013, it would take nothing short of an act of Congress to erect a competing pier nearby. Though sales have been flat, profits are outlandish, and fishing in Florida is a growth sport -- up about 10% since 1985 and still rising as far out as analysts can project.

Price Rationale What we have here, claims the owner, is a fail-safe cash cow; 53% net margins without even trying (no advertising, no price hikes, no expansion of services). In a business that's so reliant on real estate values and lease terms, the earnings multiple of nearly six is hard to assess. Some insiders say four would be more typical.

Fish. Sun. And plenty of opportunity to increase sales (see cash-cow line above).

Mother Nature. Hurricanes, namely -- though since it was opened, in 1956, the pier has weathered several and is still structurally sound. The purchase price includes special equipment to replace worn pilings, and the current owner would contract to do the job if and when necessary. Still, who wouldn't have qualms about a piece of property on which insurance is too expensive to consider?

-- Alessandra Bianchi

Inc. has no stake in the sale of the business featured and cannot confirm the accuracy of financial or other information offered by the seller. Inquiries should be directed to Business Investment Group of North Florida, in Pensacola. n

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