Friday, June 18, 2004

Business digest

Broker allegedly mishandled account

LOUISVILLE - An attorney has filed a complaint against a stockbroker for allegedly mishandling a Maysville woman's account.

Lexington attorney James Shuffett contends that John Cotton overtraded Willa Poynter's account from 1998 to 2003, reducing its value from more than $181,000 to less than $2,300 when it was closed. The complaint was sent this week to the National Association of Securities Dealers.

It was the second complaint by Shuffett against Cotton, who formerly was with Morgan Keegan & Co. in Louisville.

Natural gas supplier sold to Atmos Energy

DALLAS - Atmos Energy Corp. has agreed to pay $1.93 billion in cash for TXU Corp.'s natural gas subsidiary, gaining control of local and long-distance pipelines and 1.4 million customers.

For TXU Corp., the deal announced Thursday represents another step toward reshaping the company into one that focuses on producing and selling electricity.

Atmos executives said acquiring TXU Gas Co. would let them create the country's largest gas-only utility, with 3.1 million customers in 12 states.

Record sales put Goodyear on rebound

CLEVELAND - Akron-based tire maker Goodyear has battled more than a year of negative publicity about slumping revenue, financial restatements, accounting errors and job cuts.

On Thursday, Goodyear Rubber & Tire Co. said first-quarter sales of $4.3 billion are an all-time sales record at the 106-year-old company.

And shares - which last year hit a $3.67 low - were up 46 cents, 5 percent, to $9.44 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company, dealers and analysts say improved dealer relationships and strong demand for new products in an improved tire market are among the reasons.

Arbitrator orders payment of $68 million

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. - Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. Thursday said an arbitration panel has ruled that it must pay $68 million in damages to Belgian drug company Solvay SA over a contract dispute.

The panel ruled that Barr's Duramed Pharmaceuticals unit improperly ended a joint marketing agreement for Cenestin, an estrogen treatment. Barr disagrees with the findings, said Chairman and Chief Executive Bruce L. Downey.

Military contract boosts Lima plant

LIMA, Ohio - A military order for new assault vehicles will add 232 jobs at a plant that makes tanks and other vehicles.

Full production is to begin in 2007 or early 2008 at the General Dynamics Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, formerly known as the Lima Army Tank Plant.

The Marine Corps will use the amphibious assault transports that can carry as many as 17 soldiers. The vehicle offers cross-country mobility and high water speed, General Dynamics said.

General Dynamics already had a contract to build the vehicle's hull. All together, it's an $88 million project.

Deal will make eBay selling even easier

Two companies are poised to announce a deal that will make it far easier for people to unload their belongings on eBay.

The deal between UPS and AuctionDrop Inc. will enable people to drop off goods for sale on eBay at any of 3,400 UPS Stores around the country. AuctionDrop will sell the items for them, in return for a commission - sparing consumers the logistics of setting up their own auctions on eBay.

The agreement vastly expands what until now has been a relatively small-scale enterprise.

Leading indicators flashing green sign

NEW YORK - A closely watched gauge of future economic activity rose a stronger-than-expected 0.5 percent in May, suggesting that the U.S. economy will continue sturdy expansion through the summer.

The Conference Board said Thursday its Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators increased to 116.5 last month following rises of 0.1 percent in April and 0.8 percent in March.

Analysts had been expecting an increase of 0.4 percent in May.

Ken Goldstein, economist for the Conference Board, noted that the index has risen in 13 of the last 14 months.

From wire reports

102-year-old store boards up
Delta pilots ready to talk
Laundry and so much more
Web users, be wary of 'phish'
A salesman for Cincinnati
Insurance firms plan 'merger'
Bunning opposes Fed boss's 5th term
Revised sales tax drops some items
Survey: Credit reports flawed
Ethanol plant fueling corn farmers' hopes
Pension plans billions short; airlines, steel in worst shape
United loses bid for loan support
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