- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2008


U A $6 billion Lockheed Martin Corp. cruise missile program marred by cost overruns and test failures survived a review of whether it should be terminated. The Pentagon said will send a letter to Congress certifying that the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile is vital to national security and should proceed.

U Poor management by the Pentagon and Falls Church-based General Dynamics Corp. has led to billions of dollars in overruns and years of delays for a key Marine Corps tank program, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said. The panel found that development flaws have pushed up the cost of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program by 168 percent per tank and delayed the program eight years.

U Bethesda uranium processor USEC Inc. said net income fell to $4.4 million (4 cents per share) for its first quarter ended March 31, compared with net income of $39.3 million (45 cents) a year. The year-earlier results benefited from approximately $16.9 million from an accounting change. USEC reiterated its guidance for net income this year in a range of $25 million to $45 million.

U Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio delayed annual shareholder meetings scheduled for next month as they await a regulatory review of their combination. The meetings will be rescheduled after the companies receive “further information relating to the timing” of their merger, XM and Sirius said in separate statements. XM’s annual meeting had been set for May 23, and Sirius’s for May 20.

U Freddie Mac boosted Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Syron’s pay 24 percent last year as the shares fell by half, according to a proxy statement. Mr. Syron’s $18.3 million in total compensation included a special $1.25 million bonus and other perks for extending his employment agreement through next year, according to the McLean-based company.

U According to a survey from AOL Travel and Zogby International, 57 percent of Americans feel they have less money to spend this year on summer vacations than they did last year and are looking at ways to save on their travel costs. To save money, 33 percent are planning to stay with friends or family while 37 percent plan to drive rather than fly.


U Senate banking panel Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, plans to introduce legislation to improve credit-card billing, marketing and disclosure practices. The measure Mr. Dodd will unveil today aims to stop “abusive credit-card practices that drag consumers into staggering amounts of debt,” his office said.

U United Airlines‘ pilot union said a merger with US Airways Group would be “extremely negative.” Management should shun a tie-up and “turn its attention inward” to strengthen the world’s second-largest airline, said Steve Wallach, chairman of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association.

U As Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines try to woo regulators and shareholders to support their merger, they are courting employees, too, with new travel privileges. The companies said that starting Tuesday more than 100,000 employees and retirees will get reciprocal access to both airlines’ route systems for free, standby travel.

U MasterCard’s profit more than doubled in the first quarter as more customers outside the United States used their credit and debit cards for purchases. Cardholder spending within the United States rose, too, but at a more moderate pace. Net income was $446.9 million ($3.38 per share), up from $214.9 million ($1.57) a year ago.

U IBM Corp. increased its dividend payout 25 percent, reflecting the technology company’s confidence that it can thrive even with an uncertain economy. At IBM’s annual shareholder meeting, the board of directors upped the quarterly dividend to 50 cents per share.

U Merck & Co. said the Food and Drug Administration did not approve its cholesterol pill Cordaptive, which the company was counting on to help replace flagging sales of its older cholesterol drugs, Vytorin and Zocor. Merck shares fell $4.30, or 10.4 percent, to 37.14.

U Shareholders of Time Warner, the world’s largest media company, are urging Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bewkes to get rid of the cable television unit and buy back shares after the stock fell 34 percent from last year’s high. Splitting off the company’s 84 percent stake in Time Warner Cable would provide cash to repurchase $3.8 billion in stock, said Chris Marangi, a fund manager at Mario Gabelli’s Gamco Investors Inc.

U A federal judge recommended the U.S. drop tax evasion and obstruction charges against Gary Kaplan, the imprisoned founder of bankrupt British online gambling company Betonsports PLC. Mr. Kaplan, 49, would still face charges of conspiracy and violating U.S. Internet gambling laws. London-based Betonsports took in wagers in 2004 totaling $1.25 billion, 98 percent of which were sports bets placed by U.S. gamblers.

U Milberg LLP, the New York securities law firm charged with paying plaintiffs illegal kickbacks, is negotiating with prosecutors to settle the case, Reuters news agency reported, citing unidentified people close to the talks. The law firm is discussing ways to resolve the case with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, Reuters said.

U Yahoo Inc., owner of the second most popular Internet search engine, paid Chief Executive Officer Jerry Yang total compensation of $1 last year. Susan Decker, who is president, had total compensation of $14.8 million under Securities and Exchange Commission rules, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said in a regulatory filing.


U A $7 billion gas pipeline that would link Iran and India topped the agenda as the Islamic republic’s president made his first visit to New Delhi, despite strong U.S. objections to the project. The trip came as India and the United States are struggling to finalize a landmark nuclear energy deal. But New Delhi has made it clear that it will look to any source to feed its energy-hungry economy.

U The Bank of England said that the number of home mortgages approved last month was the lowest in 15 years of record keeping, yet another sign of the slowdown in the once-booming housing market and the economy at large. The bank said the 64,000 mortgages for new homes was 44 percent below the level a year earlier.

U The International Monetary Fund will likely cut staff by more than its target of 13 percent after one of every five employees at the lender volunteered for buyouts. The fund said 591 staff accepted incentives to quit, more than the goal of 380 cuts in the lender’s 2,900 positions. For some staff who agreed to a buyout, the IMF said that it may have to exercise a “right of refusal.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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