Forbes Inc.

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At this point it appears Forbes Inc. President-CEO Steve Forbes will not run for president in '04, and while the folly of opposing a sitting Republican president for the party's nomination is obvious, it's just as obvious that this looks like a time when all eyes should be on the business. The every-other-weekly flagship at this family-run business wasn't alone last year in leveraging the hell out of an odd-year anniversary (85th, in this case), which helped Forbes vault from its last-place standing among business peers to lead the pack at yearend. That aside, '02 was a year this company would likely prefer to forget. Forbes Inc. cut staff and salaries, stopped matching contributions to the 401 (k), and sold off parts of its art and antiques collection-the most recent iteration of which prompted this lugubrious comment from the family's overseer of such things, Christopher "Kip" Forbes, in The New York Observer: "This was a familial decision . ... I'm not allowed to make these decisions one way or another." The company shuttered its Forbes ASAP supplement, and its partner in American Legacy, Rodney Reynolds, began to look for other partners. Talk even swirled about potential partner-searching for the flagship itself. At least one industry executive familiar with the company says Forbes Inc.'s cash crunch crisis seems to be easing. But no matter how one slices it, this continues to be a very tough environment to have a company built around a business book.

Rating: 1.5 stars

Best performer:

Forbes

ad pages

down 6.2% to 3,504.6

circulation

up 0.6% to 925,993

Worst performer:

American Heritage

ad pages

down 20.1% to 192.7

circulation

down 0.5% to 344,481

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