Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Business digest


FirstEnergy to pay $89M settlement

Staff/Wire reports

AKRON - FirstEnergy Corp. has agreed to pay $89.9 million to settle shareholder lawsuits stemming from last summer's blackout, an extended outage at its Davis-Besse nuclear power plant and its earnings restatement.

FirstEnergy said Tuesday that its insurers would pay $71.9 million of the settlement, and the company's $17.9 million share would result in a charge against second-quarter earnings of 3 cents per share.

"With this behind us, we can continue focusing our efforts on providing our customers with reliable and affordable electric service, and building value for our shareholders," said Anthony J. Alexander, president and CEO.

Cardinal Health stock drops 14%

COLUMBUS - The stock of Cardinal Health Inc. plunged Tuesday, a day after the provider of medical supplies and services said its chief financial officer quit and the release of its annual results would be delayed.

Cardinal stock fell nearly 15 percent, or $7.48, to $42.95 Tuesday morning before rebounding slightly to finish at $44 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

CFO Richard Miller resigned Monday, saying it was in the best interest of the company.

The resignation came after the company disclosed in June that its audit committee, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York are investigating how the company classifies revenue from its pharmaceutical distribution business.

Martha Stewart firm replaces chairman

NEW YORK - Venture capitalist Jeffrey Ubben stepped down as chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., the company said Tuesday, ending his 14-month tenure as chairman in the wake of Stewart's stock trading scandal.

Thomas Siekman, a lawyer and former Compaq Computer executive, was named as his successor.

PediaMed to market treatment for acne

PediaMed Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Florence-based pharmaceutical company, said Tuesday it has reached agreement to market Allergan Inc.'s Tazorac acne treatment to pediatricians in the United States. Terms were not disclosed.

Allergan markets the drug through dermatologists, and will tap PediaMed's access to pediatricians for prescribing the drug to children 12 and older.

Quebecor in clear on labor practices

Quebecor World Inc., the Canadian printing giant with two plants in Greater Cincinnati, said Tuesday the National Labor Relations Board has dismissed or plans to dismiss 33 unfair labor practice charges brought by the Graphic Communications International Union. None of the complaints involved Quebecor plants in Lebanon or Fairfax, a spokesman said.

At the same time, the union said regional NLRB offices upheld complaints that the Montreal-based company illegally disciplined workers trying to organize co-workers at plants in Versailles, Ky., and Corinth, Miss. The spokesman said the company would comply with the NLRB ruling.

The Washington D.C.-based GCIU is conducting a corporate campaign to force Quebecor to recognize it as bargaining agent for non-union employees.

Luxottica's profits up 16.7 percent in Q2

MILAN, Italy - Luxottica SpA, the world's largest eyewear maker, said second-quarter profit rose 16.7 percent, helped by Prada and Versace eyewear.

Net income climbed to 79 million euros ($95 million), or 18 cents a share, from 67.7 million euros, or 15 cents, a year earlier, Luxottica said in a statement distributed by the Italian Exchange. Sales grew 13.7 percent to 803.5 million euros in the three months ended June 30.

Last week, Luxottica - parent of Mason-based LensCrafters - said shareholders of Cole National, owner of Pearle Vision stores, accepted its $27.50 a share bid for the company.




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Business digest