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The Companies of 9/11

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Minyanville profiles the corporations most closely associated with this monumental day in American history.

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As we've been reminded by every media and social outlet in America, this weekend marks a major milestone anniversary of September 11. It was a day of unspeakable pain, confusion and loss that changed this country from top to bottom -- even if only for a time.

Alongside the personal, human toll was the commercial one. The New York Stock Exchange was closed an unprecedented six days only to reopen with its sharpest-ever one-day drop of 684.81 points. New York City estimated losing nearly 150,000 jobs from the attacks.

Certain companies suffered staggering hardship while others took the tragedy to the bank. Minyanville has profiled some of the corporations most closely associated with this monumental day in American history.

MARSH & MCLENNAN

Founded in the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, global insurance broker Marsh & McLennan's (MMC) corporate headquarters was incinerated on 9/11 as it absorbed the first plane's entire collision into One World Trade Center. With eight floors of offices in the North Tower between floors 93 to 100, Marsh & McLennan was the impact zone of American Airlines Flight 11 which spanned all but its top floor.

The firm lost all 294 employees present in its offices during the attack and one who was a passenger on one of the four hijacked planes. Another 1,613 Marsh & McLennan employees who were elsewhere in the towers that day did survive.

With a 58,000-person workforce around the world, the economic hit to Marsh & McLennan was largely contained to its World Trade Center offices. The company rebounded quickly as terrorism fears created greater demand, and therefore spikes in price, for risk and insurance services. Now headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, it remains the world's largest insurance broker with reported consolidated revenue of $10.6 billion in 2010.

CANTOR FITZGERALD
The gash that Flight 11 ripped through One World Trade Center damaged all passages to safety, making the building above the 100th floor a virtual tomb. On floors 101 through 105, two floors below Windows on the World (on 106 and 107) and just five from the roof was Cantor Fitzgerald, a preeminent brokerage firm, trading commodities futures to the tune of $200 billion a day.

These were the trapped souls famously pictured heaped in stacks in the windowless frames (having hurled computers through the windows) in desperate struggles for fresh air. The Cantor Fitzgerald and Windows on the World offices "would become the landmark for this doomed moment." Of the nearly 900 people who perished on those seven floors, 658 were Cantor Fitzgerald employees.

This was the single greatest personnel loss of any employer or institution. It accounted for more than 65 percent of the investment bank's total workforce, nearly half of the deaths in the North Tower and over a fifth of the total number of victim casualties from all of the attacks on September 11.

Cantor's chairman and CEO Howard Lutnick, whose life was saved by the decision to take his son to his first day of kindergarten, did lose his brother that day. Lutnick managed to restore his company to its former glory while keeping a promise, after considerable public backlash, to provide financial support and health benefits to the victims' families.

AMERICAN AIRLINES & UNITED AIRLINES
The two airlines responsible for getting their planes hijacked, American (AMR) and United (UAL) flights 11 and 175, respectively, crashed into the Twin Towers. The plane that hit the Pentagon was American Flight 77, and Flight 93, intended for the U.S. Capitol building but bravely taken down by passengers in Shanksville, PA, belonged to United.

Both American and United were also part of a controversy regarding insider trading allegations. An ABC News broadcast reported possible knowledge of the terrorist attacks with evidence of "virtually unheard of" trading activity, specifically individuals buying puts, in the days leading up to 9/11.

Five days before the attacks, over 2,000 contracts (90 times more than over a three-week period) were purchased against United Airlines, betting its stock would drop. "$180,000 turns into $2.4 million when that plane hits the World Trade Center," said Dylan Ratigan, then of Bloomberg Business News.

Then on September 10, bizarre surges of puts were also sold for American Airlines stock and a $337,000 trade yielded a five-fold increase, $1.8 million, the day the NYSE reopened. Similar trading activity occurred with shares of Marsh & McLennan and Morgan Stanley (MS), the largest World Trade Center tenant, occupying over 20 floors of the South Tower, three floors below the impact zone of United Airlines Flight 175.

"This would be one of the most extraordinary coincidences in the history of mankind," said Ratigan, "if it was a coincidence."

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, a coincidence is exactly what it was. An investigation that included the SEC and FBI concluded that "each trade proved to have an innocuous explanation."

Within an hour of Flight 11 striking 1 World Trade Center and for the three days following 9/11, all commercial flights were suspended over North American airspace. Then, as travelers, fearing the skies, opted for other, perceived safer means of travel, the airline industry took a giant nosedive.

Despite layoffs, American reported sizable losses in 2001, was forced to cut $4 billion the following year and narrowly avoided bankruptcy in 2003. 2007 was the last year the airline was in the black. This year, airline analysts predict American will lose over $600 million.

United, on the other hand, did file for bankruptcy in 2002 and reemerged in 2006, posting profits by 2007. This summer, United reported revenues of $577 million in second quarter profits, or $1.49 a share.

TIME WARNER

In 1980, Time Warner (TWX) launched CNN, the world's first 24-hour news network. Ted Turner declared during its inaugural broadcast, "We won't be signing off until the world ends. We'll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event..."

CNN not only covered the closest America has come to an apocalypse, it broke the story. At 8:49 a.m., anchor Carol Lin interrupted a Ditech commercial to report, "This just in. You are looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center."

Years before the advent of Twitter and Facebook and while the online news industry was still in its crib, TV news was our source of immediate information and CNN was the king of cable. Today, the "CNN effect" has been replaced with the Internet news effect, at least for the under-30 set, and News Corp's (NWS) Fox News reigns supreme over the TV landscape.

HALLIBURTON & KBR

One of the largest recipients of the War on Terror, Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), formerly a division of Halliburton (HAL) and the military's de facto contractor, reaped $17.2 billion in revenue between 2003-2006 alone from its activities in Iraq.

The no-bid contracts were awarded before a single troop was deployed in what National Public Radio called a sweetheart deal:

"America's war on terrorism has created a windfall for KBR. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the company has constructed base camps at more than 60 locations throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Under its deal with the Pentagon - known as a "Logcap" contract - KBR is the go-to company to provide troops in Iraq with everything from portable toilets to Internet cafes."

For many Americans, the contracts were too close for comfort to then-Vice President Dick Cheney who had retired as CEO of Halliburton with a $36 million severance package just four months before getting elected into office.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.

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