Thursday, May 22, 2003

Business digest

From wire reports

American announces more seats, fare cuts

FORT WORTH, Texas - American Airlines, fighting back from the brink of bankruptcy, announced a turnaround plan that includes adding more seats to many planes and limiting fares on a few routes.

New chief executive Gerard Arpey said the moves - along with $4 billion annual cost cuts - would help return American to profitability, although he declined to say when. American lost $1 billion in the first quarter.

Intel shareholders reject stock plan

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Accepting the arguments of management, Intel Corp. shareholders on Wednesday voted down a proposal that called on the chip maker's board of directors to expense employee stock options.

Intel executives lobbied shareholders to reject the plan, which would have resulted in accounting for billions of dollars in expenses for options that are currently worthless.

Amazon: 5th 'Harry Potter' top seller ever

NEW YORK - The fifth novel in the popular Harry Potter series, due out in one month, will be's largest new product release, the online retailer said Wednesday.

The Seattle-based company said that more than 500,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were ordered in just four months on has received more than 875,000 orders for the book on all of its Web sites worldwide.

China to give millions to SARS-hit firms

BEIJING - China will give 100 million yuan ($12.1 million) in aid to airlines and other travel businesses in hopes of limiting the economic damage from SARS and is telling banks to help other companies, state media said Wednesday.

The announcement came as China's third-biggest airline reportedly said it was losing millions of dollars a day because of the SARS-related drop-off in travel.

Chinese airlines, hotels and other travel businesses have been hammered by worries about severe acute respiratory syndrome as foreign travelers avoid affected areas and Beijing tries to discourage its residents from traveling.

Weirton Steel reports $74.8M in 1Q losses

WEIRTON, W.Va. - Weirton Steel Corp. posted a net loss of $74.8 million during the first quarter of this year, the company said Wednesday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The report was filed two days after the nation's sixth-largest integrated steel producer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The first-quarter loss amounted to $1.78 a share, compared with a net loss of $44.6 million, or $1.06 per share, for the same three-month period in 2002.

Oakley, Luxottica settle suits on lenses

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. - Oakley Inc. said it settled lawsuits accusing bigger rival Luxottica Group SpA of copying patented lens designs.

Financial terms weren't disclosed. Oakley had sued Luxottica and subsidiaries Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters, Ray Ban Sun Optics, Arnette and Revo. (Luxottica Retail is based in Mason, Ohio.) The dispute began after Luxottica bought Sunglass Hut, the biggest seller of Oakley sunglasses, in April 2001.

Investors considering bid for HealthSouth

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An attorney for HealthSouth Corp.'s fired chief executive, Richard Scrushy, said private investors plan to bid for the company, which is trying to avoid bankruptcy after it was accused of accounting fraud.

The lawyer, Donald V. Watkins, said he is assembling investors to help him buy HealthSouth, the largest U.S. operator of rehabilitation hospitals.

The buyout effort comes as HealthSouth, based in Birmingham, is trying to restructure $3.3 billion in debt.

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