Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Business digest



From staff and wire reports

Federated tells of higher net income

Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores Inc.'s fourth-quarter net income rose to as much as $2.47 a share, better than expected, as shoppers bought more clothing, the company said in a pre-earnings announcement Tuesday. The retailer also named Ronald Klein to head its 104-store Macy's East unit.

Sales rose 0.7 percent to $5.05 billion, the company said in a statement. Excluding a tax benefit, profit rose to as much as $2.27, it said. That compares with the average forecast of $2.19 by 16 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. The company is scheduled to release earnings later this month.

Klein, 55, will take over the Macy's East division Feb. 15, replacing Hal Kahn, who is retiring.

Gabriel Brothers picks two locations

ANDERSON TWP. - A national off-price retailer will fill two vacant retail spaces in Greater Cincinnati, one in this eastern Hamilton County community and one in Sharonville.

Gabriel Brothers Inc. said it plans to open two new stores in the fall that will employ up to 100 workers each. The Anderson Township store will be 52,000 square feet at 8576 Beechmont Ave. near the Clermont County line in the site of the former Homegoods store. The 55,000-square-foot Sharonville location will be at 12035 Lebanon Road in the former K-Mart.

The Morgantown, W.Va.-based company offers name-brand family apparel and home fashions at discounted prices.

SEC looking at U.S. Bancorp unit

MINNEAPOLIS - The Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting an informal inquiry into U.S. Bancorp's mutual fund unit after the Minneapolis-based financial services company reported potentially improper trading in one portfolio.

U.S. Bancorp Asset Management disclosed the inquiry in a filing with the SEC Friday. The potentially improper trading does not involve illegal late trading, nor does it concern market timing at First American Funds, U.S. Bancorp general counsel Lee Mitau said.

Boeing cutting 300 jobs in Texas

SAN ANTONIO - The Boeing Co. said Tuesday it is cutting 300 jobs at its aircraft maintenance facility here because of cutbacks in the work it does for the Air Force.

Boeing officials said the layoffs at the former Kelly Air Force Base, now a city-run industrial park known as KellyUSA, include managers, administrative workers, mechanics and shop laborers.

New business laws argued in Italy

ROME - Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government is proposing legislation aimed at preventing financial disasters like the suspected Parmalat fraud, but his coalition partners started squabbling over the plan even before details were revealed.

Three parties in Berlusconi's coalition complained about the bill aimed at strengthening Italy's business oversight, which has been criticized as too weak in the wake of the Parmalat case. The bill must be approved by both houses of parliament.

Report finds layoffs up 26% over Dec.

NEW YORK - U.S. corporations announced 117,556 layoffs in January, up 26 percent from December, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported Tuesday.

While layoff announcements breached the 100,000 mark in January for the first time since October, the month's total was 11 percent less than the number in January 2003.

Gadzooks Inc. files for court protection

Gadzooks Inc., an apparel retailer, filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday and said it plans to close 125 of its 410 stores and cut about 1,300 jobs after a tactic of selling clothes only to young women failed to increase sales.

The company has reached an agreement in principle with Wells Fargo Retail Finance LLC to provide debtor financing to tide the company over during its reorganization, the company said in a statement.




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