- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2008

Regional

• Albert Lord, chief executive officer of Reston student lender Sallie Mae, had his annual base salary cut to $1.25 million from $3 million, according to a regulatory filing.

• McLean consultant BearingPoint said its preliminary net loss for last year widened as sales to businesses stagnated. The loss expanded to as much as $375 million from $213.4 million in 2006. Sales were little changed at $3.45 billion. The shares fell 18 cents, or 7.4 percent, to $2.27. The stock has dropped 20 percent this year.

AvalonBay Communities of Alexandria, the second-largest apartment real estate investment trust, said fourth-quarter profit rose on property sales. Net income climbed to $131.8 million ($1.65 a share) from $46.3 million (58 cents) a year earlier. Funds from operations rose nearly 9 percent on a per-share basis.

Corporate Executive Board Co. said net income for its fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 fell 3 percent to $22.5 million (63 cents per share) from $23.2 million (58 cents) a year ago. The D.C. company said it repurchased approximately 4.3 million shares of common stock during the quarter.

Learning Tree International,a Reston provider of training courses, said net income for its first quarter ended Dec. 28 increased 37 percent to $5.9 million (35 cents) from $4.3 million (26 cents) a year ago.

• Struggling consumer-electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc. said it has increased its credit line by $800 million and extended the expiration date nearly four years, according to a regulatory filing. The Richmond company said it has increased its available borrowings to $1.3 billion from $500 million and extended the expiration date to Jan. 31, 2013.

• Shares of Harman International, the District-based audio equipment maker whose $8 billion buyout collapsed last year, fell 15 percent after the company said profit may be hurt by higher costs and pressure to cut prices. The shares dropped $7.03 to $38.70. They have plunged 47 percent this year.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Hunt Valley, Md., owner or operator of 58 television stations, said fourth-quarter profit gained 12 percent on rising advertising sales from carmakers and telephone companies. Profit from continuing operations increased to $11.2 million (13 cents) from $10.1 million (12 cents) a year earlier.

National

MBIA said it plans to raise $750 million by selling about 50.3 million common shares, bolstering capital in an attempt to retain its AAA credit rating. Investment firm Warburg Pincus will backstop the offering by purchasing as much as $750 million of convertible participating preferred stock. MBIA said it would contribute most of the proceeds to its MBIA Insurance unit.

• Billionaire Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said a credit crunch isn’t under way and forecast that the dollar’s value is likely to decline. Funds are available and can be borrowed “fairly cheap,” Mr. Buffett said during an appearance in Toronto. The U.S. dollar is likely to fall in the next five to 10 years if policies don’t change, he said.

Toll Brothers said its revenues are expected to slide 22 percent during the first quarter, and the luxury-home builder is not “seeing much light at the end of the tunnel.” Home contracts sank 38 percent, to 904 homes, and signed contracts fell 46 percent, to $573 million, compared with $1.07 billion a year ago.

• Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp lost $369.9 million ($1.31) in the fourth quarter on a big write-down at its Lending Tree mortgage referral business, tax expenses and costs in anticipation of the proposed spinoff of four businesses. A year ago, the company reported profit of $15.3 million (5 cents).

Cisco Systems Inc. forecast third-quarter sales that fell short of estimates, spurring a 7.7 percent drop in the stock in after-hours trading, after clients in Europe and the U.S. tightened budgets to cope with slowing U.S. economic growth. Chief Executive Officer John Chambers predicted sales growth of 10 percent for Cisco, the biggest maker of computer-networking equipment.

• Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. swung to a fourth-quarter profit from a loss a year ago, but the company continued to be buffeted by a severe housing slump in California and Florida and said it doesn’t expect advertising sales to improve this year. Preliminary net income was $30.1 million (40 cents) compared with a loss of $279.3 million ($3.40) a year ago, including losses from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which McClatchy sold.

Diebold Inc. said it plans to cut about 800 jobs, or 5 percent of its work force, because deteriorating credit markets within the U.S. banking industry may mean fewer automated teller machines are needed.

• The Energy Department said it could fill the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve at a rate of 125,000 barrels of oil a day without significantly affecting market prices, but members of Congress are threatening to halt all deliveries to the emergency supply. “Why on earth would we reduce the supply of oil available in the marketplace?” said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat.

Oil prices declined after the Energy Department reported another rise in crude oil inventories amid mounting concern about U.S. economic growth. Light, sweet crude for delivery in March closed down $1.27 at $87.14 per barrel in New York.

General Motors said it sees “the beginnings of pent-up demand” that may stem two years of declining U.S. car and truck sales. GM expects industrywide volume to rebound in the second half of 2008.

• Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed doubts that the Army’s top weapons program, the $160 billion Future Combat System managed by Boeing Co., can be developed as planned. Mr. Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee the program must compete with the expense of adding 65,000 personnel to the Army by 2012 and repairing and replacing equipment lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

International

• A teller at the Romanian Development Bank, owned by French bank Societe Generale, was arrested for reputedly pilfering $3.2 million using the password of the branch director. Meanwhile, European Union Financial Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy called Societe Generale’s $7.2 billion trading loss “amazing” and “inexcusable.”

• The World Trade Organization rejected a U.S. complaint that Indian import duties unfairly discriminate against products such as Napa Valley wine and Jack Daniel’s whisky, officials said. But the decision is not a massive loss for the United States because the Indian government already lifted some of the massive taxes it imposes on foreign wine and spirits last year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide