Saturday, July 20, 2002

Business Digest

J&J shares sink after report of investigation

        NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Shares of Johnson & Johnson plunged Friday after a published report said a criminal investigation had been launched into one of the company's factories in Puerto Rico.

        The factory manufactures the anemia drug Eprex, which has been linked to serious illnesses in Europe and Canada, The New York Times reported in Friday's editions. It said the investigation by the Food and Drug Administration and the Justice Department was linked to a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a fired factory worker.

        On the New York Stock Exchange, J&J shares lost 15.9 percent, or $7.88 a share, to close Friday at $41.85.

DaimlerChrysler target of price-fixing probe

        WASHINGTON- DaimlerChrysler AG said the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations the company's Mercedes-Benz subsidiaries participated in a price-fixing scheme among New York-area dealers.

        The world's fifth-largest carmaker said in a filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the case is connected to a 1999 proposed class-action lawsuit against two Mercedes-Benz units, Mercedes-Benz USA LLC and Mercedes-Benz Manhattan Inc.

        The 3-year-old lawsuit was filed in federal court in Newark, N.J., on behalf of consumers who bought new Mercedes-Benz cars. It accuses 27 dealers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut and Mercedes-Benz USA of conspiring since 1992 “to artificially maintain prices,” said Jeffrey W. Herrmann, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers.

Tyco International to add directors to board

        EXETER, N.H. -- Tyco International Ltd., whose stock plunged as investors criticized the firm's accounting and management oversight, plans to increase the size of its board to 15 directors from 11.

        Tyco, the largest maker of undersea fiber-optic cable and security alarms, said in a statement that the board would appoint the new directors. The conglomerate plans to ask for shareholder approval of that plan at a meeting Sept. 5.

Microsoft outlook good despite missing target

        SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. shares fell Friday, the day after the company announced lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profits .

        Microsoft has had to write down $9 billion in its last two fiscal years because of losses on telecom and other investments, but the company's outlook remains promising, analysts said.

        The company's stock declined $1.55 to close Friday at $49.56 per share on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Morton's shareholders urged to accept bid

        NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y.- Morton's Restaurant Group Inc. said Friday that a shareholder advisory firm urged investors to accept Castle Harlan Inc.'s offer to be acquired for $71.2 million.

        Institutional Shareholder Services based the recommendation on the price and the board's process in evaluating offers, Morton's said.

        This week, the operator of Chicago steakhouses said it agreed to a takeover offer by Castle Harlan after the private New York buyout firm matched a bid of $17 a share from investor Carl C. Icahn.

        Shareholders will vote Tuesday.

Sun Microsystems falls on lower forecast

        SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Sun Microsystems Inc. shares tumbled 27 percent, their biggest plunge since 1986, after the maker of computers that run networks and Web sites said fiscal 2003 profit and sales will lag analyst forecasts.

        The shares slid $1.55 to $4.25. That pared $5.03 billion from the market value, now $13.8 billion.

EU puts off decision on retaliation

        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union, welcoming “significant” concessions by Washington in the confrontation over the steel trade, Friday delayed until Sept. 30 any decision to impose retaliatory tariffs on American imports.

        EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said “the EU interest is best served by maintaining maximum pressure” on the United States to make further concessions.

        Officials said the new deadline would give Washington more time to review more than 1,200 applications for exemptions to the tariffs it put on steel imports in March.


Buyers' strike socks stocks
Comair union approves contract
Packaging shows cause for optimism
Eli Lilly not looking for marriage
Franklin shows loss
- Business Digest
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