Thursday, March 11, 2004

Business Digest



Hearing delayed in diamond case

COLUMBUS - A hearing Thursday at which diamond giant DeBeers SA was expected to admit to its role in a 10-year-old price-fixing case has been postponed while probation officers prepare a pre-sentencing report.

DeBeers had been expected to plead guilty at the hearing, according to the court docket. The probation report will help U.S. District Judge George Smith decide on a sentence, his senior law clerk, Keith Mayton, said Wednesday.

Mayton said the delay does not reflect any snag in the case.

Birth-control-pill maker predicts decline

Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., the No. 2 U.S. maker of birth-control pills, said fiscal 2004 profit may fall short of some analyst forecasts as it spends more to market the Seasonale oral contraceptive. Barr shares fell 6.5 percent.

The Pomona, N.Y., company, which bought Pleasant Ridge-based drug maker Duramed Pharmaceuticals in 2001 and maintains a plant there, said it's not changing a previous forecast of $3.14 to $3.28 a share, excluding any one-time costs, for the year ending in June, though the $3.27 average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial may be high.

Dillard's 4th quarter net income down 29%

Dillard's Inc., a 66-year-old department-store chain, said fourth-quarter net income dropped 29 percent as sales fell and the retailer had expenses to close stores.

Net income declined to $51.2 million, or 61 cents a share, from $72.3 million, or 85 cents, a year earlier. Sales in the period ended Jan. 31 fell 3.7 percent to $2.3 billion, the Little Rock, Ark.-based company said. Sales at stores open at least a year declined 4 percent.

Costs to close stores lowered profit by 13 cents in the quarter, Dillard's said. The company shuttered nine stores last year as part of Chief Executive William Dillard's strategy to close underperforming locations.

Bank of New York moving jobs to India

The Bank of New York Co. will move 250 technology jobs to India, part of a multiyear effort to move jobs to cheaper areas, according to its annual report.

The jobs are in the bank's Pershing securities clearing business, which it bought from Credit Suisse First Boston last year, according to the report filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bank of New York will continue to move jobs to upstate New York and Florida. Internationally, the company is moving positions from London to Liverpool.

Top man at Wendy's took pay cut in 2003

Hamburger chain Wendy's International Inc. paid its top executive nearly 5 percent less in 2003, according to a regulatory filing.

Although his base salary rose by about $70,000 in 2003, Wendy's chairman and chief executive Jack M. Schuessler, received a lower bonus and fewer stock options than in 2002.

Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's disclosed in a proxy statement Tuesday that Schuessler's base salary rose to $934,192 last year from $863,693 in 2002.

Schuessler's total cash compensation was $3,062,486, the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed. In 2002 the compensation package totaled $3,221,581.

Krispy Kreme's quarter earnings 36% higher

Krispy Kreme Inc. reported a sharp surge in fourth-quarter profits Wednesday, helped by strong sales at company-owned stores.

For the three months ending Feb. 1, the doughnut maker earned $16.4 million, or 26 cents a share - in line with the consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Total fourth-quarter sales increased 36 percent to $185.5 million from $136.7 million at the same time a year ago.

Disney's daughter says Eisner should resign

Walt Disney's daughter said embattled CEO Michael Eisner should resign from the company her father founded, though she warned that the campaign to oust him was "ill-timed" and could prove harmful.

"It's time to step down and let someone else come in for the future," Diane Disney Miller told the Los Angeles Times.

Miller, Walt Disney's only surviving child, sold her personal Disney stock in the late 1980s.

From wire reports




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