Friday, June 4, 2004

Business digest

Jury orders Ford to pay in rollover suit

SAN DIEGO - A jury has ordered Ford Motor Co. to pay nearly $369 million to a woman paralyzed in a rollover accident involving a Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle.

The San Diego County jury ordered the No. 2 automaker on Thursday to pay $246 million in punitive damages, after awarding more than $122.6 million in compensatory damages Tuesday. The award is one of the biggest ever against the automaker and marked the first loss after 11 victories in rollover lawsuits involving the Ford Explorer.

Ford, based in Dearborn, Mich., has said it will appeal. In a statement, Ford insisted the Explorer was safe.

Verizon to publish Cincinnati directory

Greater Cincinnati will soon have three major yellow pages directories.

Verizon Information Services, a unit of Verizon Communications, plans to publish its SuperPages directory for Greater Cincinnati later this year. Verizon Information publishes more than 1,500 directories in 45 states and overseas.

The new directory joins Cincinnati Bell Yellow Pages, published by CBD Media LLC, and Yellow Book USA, the largest independent yellow pages publisher.

Convergys signs deal with cable provider

Cincinnati's Convergys Corp. said it signed a software licensing agreement with the Indianapolis division of Bright House Networks, a cable provider with 2.1 million customers.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, but Convergys said Bright House acquired a license for its ICOMS Web-based product, which allows customers the option of self-service via the Internet.

Strong Canadian dollar hurts drug maker

Patheon Inc., the Toronto-based pharmaceutical maker which has its largest U.S. plant in Reading, said second-quarter earnings were hurt by the stronger Canadian dollar.

For the three months ended April 30, the company said net earnings slipped 35 percent to $3.1 million U.S., or 6 cents a share, from $4.79 million, or 9 cents a share, a year ago. Revenues fueled by strong prescription drug manufacturing at the Reading plant increased 17 percent to $122.8 million.

Patheon said more than 60 percent of revenues from its Canadian operations are in U.S. dollars, while most of their costs are in Canadian dollars.

Goodyear defends CEO's compensation

AKRON, Ohio - Financially struggling Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. paid its chief executive $1.5 million in salary and bonus last year, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Akron tire company said CEO Robert J. Keegan deserved the pay because he has helped Goodyear make progress in turning around its finances, improving relations with independent tire dealers and signing a new labor agreement with the United Steelworkers of America. Under Keegan, Goodyear restructured more than $3 billion in loans to avoid a liquidity crunch, slashed 6,000 jobs and closed or scaled back factories around the world.

U.S. productivity up for first quarter of '04

WASHINGTON - The productivity of America's workers in the opening quarter of 2004 grew at a brisk 3.8 percent annual rate, faster than previously thought. Labor costs moved up.

The increase in productivity - the amount an employee produces for every hour on the job - was up from an initial estimate of a 3.5 percent growth rate for the January-to-March quarter and exceeded the 2.5 percent pace registered in the final quarter of 2003, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Hyatt starts rollout of wireless service

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts has begun the rollout of wireless Internet service. Within 12 months, the company said it would offer wireless access based on the Wi-Fi standard in lobbies, public areas and some guest rooms of more than 200 properties.

T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom, will provide service coverage. With the Hyatt deal, T-Mobile's HotSpot service will be available in more than 4,600 locations including Starbucks, Borders Books & Music and airport passenger clubs.

From wire reports

Gas to stay high, despite OPEC help
Flimflam man pleads guilty
Lower HMO rate increases likely
N.Ky. snags three city conventions
Omnicare won't take rival's 'no'
Over-the-Rhine stars in tour of city homes
Tristate business summary
Airlines: We're still in trouble
Federated surpasses expectations in May
Pays to be man in most jobs, Census finds
Business digest
Small farms losing ground
Higher pump prices make grease tastier