FOREIGN FIRMS TAKE THEIR TIME IN PAYING UP

* Exporting to certain countries can be risky business if companies expect prompt payment, according to Mid-Continent Agencies, a Glenview, Ill., commercial collection firm.

The unstable economic and political conditions in somecountries lowers the odds of successful collection from companies based there, says Ron Goffron, international collection manager for Mid-Continent Agencies.

Receivables from United States companies take an average of 42 days to collect, according to the Finance Credit & International Business, a branch of the National Association of Credit Management. But collecting from companies in Iran, for example, takes an average of 310 days; from Syria, 175 days; and from Kenya, 143 days. COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE A LOT TO LEARN ON FINANCES FROM WASHINGTON

* A survey of the consumer knowledge of college students found that most are unprepared to make wise purchasing decisions about financial services, according to the Consumer Federation of America in Washington.

The 2,010 college juniors and seniors on 75 campuses scored correct answers for only 51 percent of the survey questions when they could have scored 25 percent by guessing.

Students answered questions on credit (53 percent correctly), checking/savings (53 percent correctly), life insurance (43 percent correctly), and auto insurance (58 percent correctly). BICYCLE SALES HIT $3.7 BILLION FROM NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF.

* Bicycling is America's third largest participant sport, according to Interbike, a publisher and promoter of bicycling. In 1991, 11.7 million bicycles were sold in the US - of which 4.4 million were imports.

A total of 96 million Americans ride bicycles. Of these, 20 million ride mountain bikes and 4 million commute to work by bicycle. Worldwide, about 100 million bicycles are produced each year, with China producing more than one-third of the total.

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