Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) was a large US conglomerate which existed from 1961 to 2000. At its peak, it was involved in aerospace, airlines, electronics, steel manufacturing, sporting goods, meat packing, car rentals, and pharmaceuticals, among other businesses.
It began in 1947 as Ling Electric Company, later named Ling-Temco-Vought, followed by LTV Corporation and eventually LTV Steel until its end in 2001.
In 1947, entrepreneur James Ling founded an electrical contracting business, Ling Electric Company, in Dallas, Texas. He lived in the rear of the shop. After incorporating and taking the company public in 1955, Ling found innovative ways to market the stock, including selling door-to-door and from a booth at the State Fair of Texas.
In 1956 Ling bought L.M. Electronics, and in 1959 added Altec Electronics, a maker of stereo systems and speakers. In 1960 Ling merged the company with Temco Aircraft, best known for its missile work. In 1961, using additional funding from insurance businessman Troy Post and Texas oil baron David Harold Byrd they acquired Chance Voughtaerospace in a hostile takeover. The new company became Ling-Temco-Vought.
With low interest rates allowing the company to borrow huge sums, Ling built one of the major 1960s conglomerates. As long as the target company’s earnings exceeded the interest on the loan (or corporate bond), or the company’s price/earnings ratio was less than that of Ling-Temco-Vought’s stock, the conglomerate became more profitable overall. Given the fairly unsophisticated stock research of the era, the company appeared to be growing without bound, and its share price rose.
In 1964 Ling turned Ling-Temco-Vought into a holding company and established three public companies as subsidiaries, LTV Aerospace, LTV Ling Altec, and LTV Electrosystems. LTV Aerospace received assets for Vought and a large part of Temco Aircraft. LTV Ling Altec contained Altec Electronics and other properties and the rest went to LTV Electrosystems. The intention was to make the sum of the parts appear to be worth more than the whole. Ling used this technique to raise capital and buy more companies. Portions of LTV Electrosystems would later spin off to E-Systems, then part of Raytheon IIS, and since 2002 part of L-3 Communications-Integrated Systems (L-3/IS).