- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2008


U A bankruptcy judge has authorized MAXjet Airways of Sterling, Va., to auction its all-business-class airline under conditions that have worried the federal official monitoring the case. The judge approved MAXjet’s sale procedures and said MAXjet could waive existing terms or impose new terms for bidders, provided the airline gets approval from the federal bankruptcy trustee.

U Richmond medical products maker Owens & Minor said fourth-quarter net income more than tripled to $22.5 million (55 cents per diluted share) from $7.3 million (18 cents) a year ago. For all of last year, net income rose 49 percent to $72.7 million ($1.79) from $48.8 million ($1.20) in 2006. The company also raised its quarterly dividend nearly 18 percent.

U Computer Sciences Corp., Falls Church manager of networks for NASA and the Navy, posted a 58 percent rise in third-quarter profit after winning more contracts to manage software and data for businesses. Net income increased to $179 million ($1.05) from $113.5 million (65 cents).

U Shares of Gannett Co. of McLean, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, fell the most in six years after Bear Stearns Cos. cut its rating on the stock based on a 12 percent decline in advertising revenue in December. The stock declined $2.05, or 5.5 percent, to $35.42. It has fallen 40 percent in the past year and is near a 10-year low.

U Altria Group Inc., the world’s largest tobacco company, may try to buy UST Inc., boosting profit by 3 percent to 5 percent, Goldman Sachs said. Tests of various smokeless tobacco products by Altria’s Richmond-based Philip Morris USA aren’t likely to make “a significant profit contribution any time soon,” Goldman said.

U Bethesda’s Lockheed Martin Corp., the Bethesda defense contractor, may sell Hellfire II missiles to France for use on its Tiger attack helicopter fleet after the U.S. and French governments reached an agreement. Terms of the order’s potential value and exact missile quantities weren’t disclosed.

U Comcast Corp. and EBay Inc. may be potential bidders for Time Warner Inc.’s AOL, as Microsoft Corp.’s offer for Yahoo Inc. threatens to knock out the two most likely suitors for the Internet unit, according to investment firm Pali Research. Comcast may be interested in AOL’s advertising network and Web site, but is unlikely to pay more than $10 billion, the firm said.


U Improved results from the Fox broadcast network and Fox News Channel lifted second-quarter earnings at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., the media conglomerate said. News Corp., which bought Dow Jones & Co. in December, earned $832 million (27 cents) in three months ended Dec. 31, up 1 percent. Meanwhile, Mr. Murdoch said he has no plans to make a rival bid for Yahoo.

U Sun-Times Media Group, parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, said it is considering a sale of the company and its assets. The company said it also is looking at other alternatives to increase shareholder value, including joint ventures or strategic partnerships.

U Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest grocery chain, is adopting new safety standards for its private label and other foods at a time when analysts say consumers are more concerned than ever about food safety. Wal-Mart said it will require audits using global safety standards at thousands of factories worldwide that produce its house brands.

U A dispute between Chrysler and parts supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc. forced Chrysler to shut down or cancel a shift at five factories, and the automaker said it could idle all 14 of its assembly factories. Plastech supplies Chrysler with about 500 plastic interior, exterior and powertrain components for nearly all of its vehicles.

U Wendy’s International said that fourth-quarter earnings more than quadrupled from a year ago, when it took major charges for discontinued operations. The nation’s No. 3 burger chain said it made $14.1 million (16 cents) for the quarter ended Dec. 30, compared with $3 million (3 cents) a year ago period.

U Lionel LLC and minority owner Neil Young are asking a bankruptcy judge to let them buy out the rock star’s partner in the company that designs the wireless control system for Lionel’s model trains. Mr. Young plays a major design role at the company, Creative Trains, which is in a joint venture with Lionel to develop model train technology.

U A former Credit Suisse investment banker from Pakistan was convicted in a multimillion-dollar insider trading plot in which he was accused of feeding inside information on deals to a high-ranking official at a financial institution in Pakistan. Hafiz Muhammad Zubair Naseem was convicted in U.S. District Court in Manhattan of one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and 28 counts of insider trading.


U China’s biggest bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., has set aside reserves equal to 30 percent of its $1.2 billion in subprime holdings to cover possible losses, a state news agency reported. If true, it would be the first indication that Chinese banks might face problems due to holdings of U.S. subprime mortgage securities.

U More than 135 people and four French banks — including embattled Societe Generale — went on trial in Paris on charges they abetted a money laundering operation between France and Israel. Other defendants include the French unit of Barclays PLC, the National Bank of Pakistan and Societe Marseillaise de Credit.

U The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is examining stock sales by an American board member of Societe Generale. The SEC inquiry, an expansion of one by French regulators, is investigating stock sales investor Robert Day and two foundations linked to him made days before the bank announced a $7 billion loss caused by a rogue trader.

U Microsoft Corp. said it will start selling a cheaper model of the Xbox 360 video game machine in Japan to woo gamers there. The entry-level offering goes on sale March 6 for about $260 — about a fifth less than the least expensive Xbox 360 now costs in Japan. The stripped-down version went on sale in the U.S. late last year for $279.99.

U Investment group Olivant withdrew from the running to offer a rescue package for troubled British bank Northern Rock, shortly before the deadline expired for bids to be presented. The withdrawal left a consortium led by Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson and a group from Northern Rock’s own management as the only parties expected to make offers.

U French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the government was ready to use state funds to invest in an ArcelorMittal steel plant where nearly 600 jobs are threatened. “We are ready to do what is necessary, regardless of who the owner is because our goal is to keep factories open in France,” Mr. Sarkozy told a gathering here of 400 steel workers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

U The IMF warned rapidly growing India against using capital controls to curb swelling financial investment inflows. The Securities and Exchange Board of India tightened offshore investment norms last year to help stem a tide of foreign money that has driven the rupee to near decade highs against the dollar.

U A court in China upheld a death sentence against a businessman accused of bilking investors in a would-be ant-breeding scheme, state media reported. The court turned down an appeal from Wang Zhendong, whose company promised returns of up to 60 percent for investors who purchased ant-breeding kits for use in producing herbal remedies.

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