Saturday, February 15, 2003

Business digest

From wire reports

Uptick seen if war is over quickly

WASHINGTON - The U.S. economy should steadily gain strength in 2003, according to economic forecasters.

But that outlook from the National Association for Business Economics comes with an important caveat - that any U.S. war with Iraq ends quickly.

A panel of 37 top economists, who prepared NABE's latest quarterly outlook, said Friday that President Bush's call for a new round of tax cuts would provide a moderate boost to the economy this year and next.

United's discount plan a tough sell

CHICAGO - United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton faces a tough audience as he races to drum up employee support for a proposed in-house discount carrier he says is critical to ensuring the bankrupt company's survival.

Union officials and industry experts are strongly skeptical of the plan for an airline within an airline - a strategy that has failed in the past and is now being pitched by an industry outsider who's been at the helm less than six months.

With labor groups restive, fuel costs at two-year highs and war in Iraq looming, the analysts say the world's second-largest airline has scant margin for error.

Welch's divorce documents sealed

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Documents in the divorce case of former General Electric Co. chairman Jack Welch have been permanently sealed.

The Feb. 10 decision, made available Friday, makes permanent a temporary order. Documents include a list of perks Welch received as part of his retirement package from GE.

British tobacco ad ban goes into effect

LONDON - "Looks like we've been outlawed, Sir," says a billboard marking the last gasp of tobacco advertising in Britain.

Overriding industry protests, Britain banned all tobacco advertising, effective Friday.

"Tobacco advertising - we can live without it. Don't give up giving up," read government posters plastered over cigarette ads in London.

Legislation passed by Parliament last year outlaws newspaper, billboard and Internet advertising of tobacco products in Britain.

Tobacco sponsorship of British sporting events will be outlawed this year and global sports staged in Britain, including Formula One racing, by 2006.

Market watchers welcome Dell rise

ROUND ROCK, Texas - Stock in Dell Computer Corp., one of the leading barometers of the global computer industry, rose more than 10 percent Friday after the company reported record sales and sharply higher profits in its latest quarter as sales of servers and storage devices surged.

The world's No. 2 personal-computer maker also said it expects continued strong sales in early 2003.

Shares of Dell rose $2.52, or 10.8 percent, to close Friday at $25.77 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Chip maker Nvidia beats forecast

NEW YORK - The stock of graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp. surged Friday, after the company handily beat Wall Street's fourth-quarter earnings expectations.

Shares of the chip maker finished Friday at $12.04, up $2.17, or 22 percent.

Nvidia, based in Santa Clara, Calif., reported net income of $50.9 million or 30 cents a share, compared with $76.03 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier.

Sales came in at $468.95 million, down from $503.69 million a year ago.

Stewart reduces company ownership

WASHINGTON - Martha Stewart has pared her stake in her multimedia company to 61.4 percent from 69.1 percent a year ago, according to a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Stewart, chairwoman and chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, directly or indirectly owns 30.75 million shares or options in the company, according to the filing. A filing on Feb. 14 last year gave the number as 33.68 million.

The filing didn't reveal the reason for the change in stake and didn't detail the transactions.

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