- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2008


U The Bush administration may move to clarify and expand the rule for how regulators would take control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should the companies’ core capital fall below a federal minimum, their regulator said. The White House Office of Management and Budget is set to decide by April whether to approve guidelines for the creation and operation of a conservator in the event the government-chartered companies face default, said James Lockhart, director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

U ComScore Inc., the Reston data provider that tracks the most-visited Web sites, released a new forecast for first-quarter profit to correct what it called “misperceptions” about an earlier projection. Earnings per share may be 14 cents to 17 cents in the quarter, up from Thursday’s forecast of 10 cents to 11 cents a share, ComScore said.

U Coventry Health Care Inc. forecast first-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates after adding members to prescription-drug plans that generate income later in the year. Net income for its fourth quarter increased to $184.3 million ($1.18) from $156.1 million (97 cents) a year earlier, Bethesda-based Coventry said. Its shares fell as much as 5.7 percent.

U George Washington University, already one of the most expensive colleges in the U.S., increased tuition 3 percent for first-year students. Trustees set tuition for students entering the university in September at $40,392. Mandatory fees, including housing, will push the annual total cost higher than $50,000 for a second year. The school, with 9,700 undergraduates, was the first nationwide to exceed $50,000.


U Wells Fargo & Co., the second-biggest U.S. mortgage lender, sued Cleveland over claims the city threatens to interfere with the company’s business. Cleveland in January sued 21 banks and mortgage companies, including Wells Fargo, claiming they created a public nuisance by funding and securitizing subprime mortgage loans for borrowers with weak credit.

U Bond insurers owned by companies including Ambac Financial Group Inc. and FGIC Corp. are unlikely to be bailed out by the government or banks, Morgan Stanley said. Conflicting interests of policyholders and varying levels of exposure to the bond insurers by banks make a bailout unlikely and undesirable, Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a research report.

U Alliance Data Systems Corp. dropped a lawsuit against Blackstone Group LP after being reassured the New York leveraged buyout firm will try to complete its $6.6 billion takeover of the credit-card processor.

U JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Dennis Hersch, chairman of the bank’s mergers and acquisitions group, is departing to work for the family of billionaire Leslie Wexner, a bank spokeswoman said. Mr. Wexner is chief executive officer of Limited Brands Inc., owner of the Victoria’s Secret chain of lingerie stores.

U Delta Air Lines Inc. flight attendants plan to file next week for a union election, six years after the last such vote failed at the third-largest U.S. carrier. The National Mediation Board will be asked Thursday to approve a vote by Delta’s 12,000 flight attendants on whether to join the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the union said.

U AMC Entertainment Inc., the cinema operator planning to sell shares to the public, reported its loss nearly doubled to $11.2 million in the third quarter as revenue declined. Ticket and concession sales both declined, the Kansas City, Mo., company said.

U Shares of Coinstar Inc. rose the most in more than 18 months after an agreement to expand its counting machines and the DVD rental kiosks of its Redbox unit in Wal-Mart stores. Coinstar shares climbed $2.91, or 10 percent, to $31.97 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

U Sizzler USA Holdings Inc., operator of the steak restaurant chain, was put up for sale by the Australian buyout firm that purchased it in 2005. Pacific Equity Partners acquired Worldwide Restaurant Concepts Inc., Sizzler’s owner, for $210 million in September 2005.

U Steel producer Nucor Corp. agreed to acquire SHV North America Corp., which owns scrap broker and processor David J. Joseph Co., for $1.44 billion.

U Roche Holding AG said it has acquired 70.5 percent of shares in Ventana Medical Systems Inc., enough to complete its sweetened $3 billion-plus deal for the U.S. maker of drug testing equipment without the approval of its remaining shareholders.

U Chattem Inc., the maker of Bullfrog sunscreen and Icy Hot pain reliever, announced a nationwide voluntary recall of its Icy Hot Heat Therapy products after receiving consumer complaints about burns and skin irritation.

U Polaroid Corp., the company that pioneered instant photography, is exiting the film business and closing plants in the U.S., Mexico and the Netherlands as it focuses on digital photography and flat-panel televisions. Polaroid plans to license the technology to third-party companies for diehard customers.

U Dell Inc. has stopped selling many computers with processors from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on its Web site, although it will continue selling through retailers.

U General Motors Corp.’s 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon sport-utility vehicles are being investigated by U.S. regulators after two complaints of engine-compartment fires while the light trucks were parked in garages. The inquiry may affect 400,000 vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site.


U The euro posted its biggest weekly decline against the dollar since June 2006 on speculation a slowing economy will force the European Central Bank to join the Federal Reserve in reducing interest rates. Europe’s currency dropped 2 percent against the dollar this week to $1.4512, from $1.4802 Feb. 1

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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