Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Business Digest

From wire reports

UAW takes hard line on health-care costs

The United Auto Workers union, which starts contract talks next month with General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler, said it will oppose any efforts to shift health-care costs to its members.

UAW workers at the automakers don't pay any of their health-care premiums under their current contracts and the union doesn't plan to accept taking on part of those costs, President Ron Gettelfinger told reporters at the union's Detroit headquarters. The UAW represents about 292,000 workers at the three companies.

Smucker increases its profit spread

ORRVILLE, Ohio - Jelly and jam maker Smucker Inc. reported Tuesday that profits more than tripled for the quarter and year, helped by the addition of Jif peanut butter and Crisco cooking products lines.

Smucker earned $23.2 million, or 46 cents per share, on sales of $329 million in the fourth quarter that ended April 30, up from fourth-quarter 2002 earnings of $6.7 million, or 28 cents per share, on sales of $176 million.

The earnings by Smucker, which operates Procter & Gamble's old Crisco plant at Ivorydale, were in line with the Thomson First Call analysts' estimate of 47 cents per share.

Microsoft sues 15 spam senders

Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, filed 15 lawsuits against senders of unwanted e-mail who sent more than 2 billion messages to users of the company's MSN Internet service and Hotmail program.

Microsoft is seeking damages and is asking the courts to force the spammers to stop sending messages.

Coke investigates test allegations

Coca-Cola Co., responding to charges by a former executive, ordered a review of arrangements with equipment suppliers and disclosed that employees rigged a test of "Frozen Coke" at Burger King Corp. three years ago. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating.

Coca-Cola said a probe into allegations by Matthew Whitley, former director of finance for the company's fountain division, found "further examination was warranted regarding the financial arrangements between the Fountain Division and certain equipment suppliers." The Atlanta-based company will write down the value of fountain equipment and related computer systems by $9 million.

AK Steel settles with GM
Securities fraud bill adds punch
More make a living with their hands
PEALE: What's the Buzz?
Production up; fear of deflation ebbs
Former boss of Rite Aid guilty in fraud case
GE contract raises wages, bumps up insurance costs
Fifth Third to increase dividend
Tristate summary
Business Digest