Friday, April 30, 2004

Business digest

NCR improves but still has loss

NCR Corp. on Thursday reported a smaller loss in the first quarter, in part because of a strong performance by its data-warehousing business.

The Dayton-based computer services company said it lost $5 million, or 5 cents a share, for the three months that ended March 31, compared with a loss of $27 million, or 28 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue increased to $1.29 billion from $1.23 billion in the first quarter of 2003.

NCR employs 29,000 workers worldwide.

Gateway deletes another 1,500 jobs

SAN DIEGO - Struggling computer seller Gateway is cutting another 1,500 jobs, or about 40 percent of its remaining work force, only a month after a similar cut. Thursday's announcement came as Gateway posted its 13th loss in 14 quarters.

The jobs will be eliminated by year's end, chief executive Wayne Inouye said. The layoffs will leave the company with about 2,000 employees, down from nearly 25,000 employees in 2000.

Cooker restaurants go out of business

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Cooker restaurant chain shut down Thursday after it ran out of money.

About 1,500 employees at 20 restaurants in Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee lost their jobs. In the Cincinnati area, Cooker had eateries in Symmes Township, Springdale and Cherry Grove; it earlier closed one in Hyde Park.

Lea Fastow's deal: one misdemeanor

HOUSTON - The wife of former Enron Corp. finance chief Andrew Fastow has a new proposed plea deal, and she won't spend more than a year in prison.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday wiped out a previous indictment charging Lea Fastow with six felonies - four counts of filing false tax forms and two counts of conspiracy - and replaced it with a single misdemeanor charge of filing a false tax form.

She still faces the sentencing range of 10 to 16 months she faced for a felony tax charge. However, because the new charge is a misdemeanor, she cannot serve more than the maximum 12 months.

Lea Fastow is scheduled to plead guilty to the lesser count and be sentenced on May 6.

USA Today names new editor

USA Today, the country's largest-selling newspaper, named Kenneth Paulson to be its new editor Thursday. Karen Jurgensen resigned last week after a fraud scandal involving a former star reporter.

The newspaper also made several other senior-level editorial appointments as it moves to rebuild its stature after the debacle involving Jack Kelley, who was found to have committed many acts of fabrication and plagiarism over a decade.

Microsoft says court decision in its favor

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European antitrust office and Microsoft Corp. clashed Thursday over whether last month's landmark ruling against the U.S. software giant would survive on appeal. In a new decision earlier Thursday, the European Union's highest court set strict guidelines for monopoly cases.

The European Court of Justice spelled out three "exceptional circumstances" that must be met before a dominant company can be found guilty of breaking antitrust law for refusing to license copyrighted material to rivals.

Both the European Union and Microsoft said the decision supported their position.

American Electric reports earnings drop

COLUMBUS - American Electric Power said on Thursday that earnings dropped 36 percent in the first quarter compared with a year ago when the company had a large accounting gain.

AEP said it made $278 million, or 70 cents per share, for the quarter that ended March 31 compared with $440 million, or $1.24 per share, a year ago. Sales declined to $3.3 billion from $3.8 billion a year ago.

The accounting adjustment a year ago improved earnings for last year's quarter by $242 million, or 68 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected earnings of 61 cents per share.

Enquirer wire services

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Business digest