Computers: The Leasing Game

One of the recent surprises of the computer business has been the swift rise of middlemen who buy the machines from manufacturers and lease them to users. The middlemen operate with vast sums of other people's money, depend on federal antitrust pressure against dominant IBM for survival and on favorable income tax breaks for much of their profit. Yet a dozen companies, none more than 15 years old, have thrived so splendidly that computer-leasing stocks were among Wall Street's hottest glamor issues this spring.

Naturally, the competition is warming up. Last week Manhattan Management Consultant John Diebold, a leading evangelist of...

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