Friday, August 27, 2004

Business digest

BlackRock buying State Street Research

BlackRock Inc., the largest publicly traded U.S. manager of bond funds, agreed to buy State Street Research & Management from MetLife Inc. for $375 million to broaden its stock and real estate investments. MetLife will receive $325 million in cash and $50 million of stock, the companies said. BlackRock is trying to lessen dependence on bonds by attracting more equity and hedge-fund investors. About half of State Street Research's $52 billion of managed assets is in stocks and real estate.

Olympics timely for watchmaker

Swatch AG, the Swiss company that's responsible for timekeeping at the Athens Olympics, wants to extend its role beyond 2010 as the event fuels sales. The world's largest watchmaker says it has sold almost 1 million of the timepieces it made to mark this year's Games. The watches cost about $47. Swatch's contract as official Olympic timekeeper runs through the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Brown-Forman profit surges in quarter

Brown-Forman Corp., maker of Jack Daniel's whiskey and Southern Comfort liqueur, said Thursday that profit for its latest quarter surged 67 percent, helped by strong results from its drinks. The Louisville-based company, which also makes china, dinnerware, and luggage, raised its earnings outlook for fiscal 2005. Net income for the first quarter ended July 31 rose to $51.9 million, or 42 cents a share, from $31.1 million, or 26 cents a share, a year earlier.

Mortgage rates slightly higher

Mortgage rates around the country crept up this week, although 30-year mortgages still were below the 6-percent level for a fourth straight week, Freddie Mac reported Thursday. The mortgage giant said its latest nationwide survey showed rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 5.82 percent for the week ending Aug. 26. That's up from last week's average of 5.81 percent.

For 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates rose to 5.21 percent this week, up from 5.19 percent last week. Rates on one-year adjustable rate mortgages increased to 4.05 percent, compared with 4.01 percent last week.

Sikorsky acquiring helicopter company

United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. unit said Thursday it has agreed to acquire Schweizer Aircraft Corp., a small maker of light manned and unmanned aircraft. Terms were not disclosed. Sikorsky, a Stratford, Conn.-based manufacturer of helicopters, said the purchase of Schweizer strengthens its capabilities in the unmanned aerial vehicle field. Schweizer, a privately owned company based in Elmira, N.Y., specializes in light helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.

More fallout from Enron debacle

Citigroup Inc., the world's biggest financial services company, has been sued by institutional investors who contend the bank defrauded them in selling $2.4 billion of notes linked to the creditworthiness of Enron Corp.

The suit was filed in state Supreme Court in New York by Bank of New York Co., acting on behalf of investor groups that include Angelo, Gordon & Co. The investors contend Citigroup's Citibank unit aided Enron in artificially maintaining the former energy trader's creditworthiness from 1999 until it declared bankruptcy in December 2001. The suit follows others filed against Citigroup and other investment banks over their dealings with Enron and WorldCom Inc., which filed the two biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history.

Intel upgrades mobile technology

Intel Corp. unveiled an update to its wireless networking technology Thursday, adding simpler software, improved security and support for a more robust, less interference-prone radio standard.

Notebooks based on the latest version of Intel's Centrino mobile technology will be able to connect to Wi-Fi networks that use the 802.11a standard as well as the more popular 802.11b and 802.11g standards, the chip-making giant said.

From wire reports

Oil prices drop for fifth day
Little particles make cars, profits shine
Honda CEO traces longtime links with Ohio
Cincinnati Financial shifts asset
Sale boosts Winton stock
Meridian wins FDA approval for colitis test
Insure your party? Not likely
Glaxo agrees to post negative drug data
Krispy Kreme trying to roll with markets
Tobacco sales fell fifth year in 2003
Coca-Cola employees given immunity in rigged-test case
Tristate summary
Business digest