Friday, August 22, 2003

Business digest

PNC strengthens Eastern market

PITTSBURGH - PNC Financial Services Group will acquire United National Bancorp in a $638 million cash-and-stock deal that has been approved by the boards of both companies.

United National is the holding company for UnitedTrust Bank, which has branches in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. PNC has agreed to pay $320 million in cash and 6.5 million PNC common shares.

Dick's shares down, but earnings higher

PITTSBURGH - Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. Thursday said second-quarter earnings rose 32 percent on 14 percent sales growth and an improved operating margin.

The Pittsburgh retailer reported earnings of $15.5 million, or 62 cents a share, compared with earnings of $11.7 million, or 61 cents a share, last year.

New York Stock Exchange-listed Dick's shares closed Thursday at $37.26, down $3.24, or 8 percent.

LeBron's in Sprite ads and Kobe is out

ATLANTA - LeBron James has signed a six-year deal with the Coca-Cola Co. to be a key endorser of Sprite.

The company stopped running Sprite ads featuring Kobe Bryant in early July, around the same time he was accused of raping a woman in Colorado. Company spokesman Scott Williamson said Thursday the deal with James - this year's No. 1 draft pick - was "unrelated to Kobe Bryant's situation."

Financial terms of James' deal, which also calls for him to endorse Powerade, weren't disclosed.

James, 18, already has more than $100 million in endorsement deals.

FCC proposal comes too late, critics say

WASHINGTON - Critics of new broadcast ownership rules said the Federal Communications Commission should have studied how stations can best serve their local communities before allowing companies to buy more radio and television stations.

"It's a curious approach to pass a rule that's going to allow much more concentration in broadcasting and then decide the effect this will have on localism," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell announced Wednesday a series of initiatives aimed at ensuring broadcasters serve the communities in which they operate.

Mortgage interest rates keep creeping up

WASHINGTON - Rates on 30-year mortgages rose again this week, the seventh increase in eight weeks, but they still remain slightly below the average rates one year ago.

The average rate on 30-year mortgages climbed to 6.28 percent, slightly below this year's high of 6.34 percent, set two weeks ago.

Rates on 30-year mortgages hit a historic low of 5.21 percent in mid-June.

Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 5.60 percent this week, up from 5.58 percent last week. Rates for one-year adjustable mortgages rose to 3.84 percent, up from 3.75 percent.

Leadership changing at JDS Uniphase

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Troubled optical networking equipment maker JDS Uniphase Corp. announced Thursday that its chief executive is retiring after more than 20 years at the company.

Jozef Straus will be succeeded by board member Kevin Kennedy, effective Sept. 1.

The company also announced the resignation of president and chief operating officer Syrus Madavi, who was hired last year to help lead a restructuring.

JDSU was hit hard by the telecommunications meltdown that started in 2001. Over the past two years, it has shed thousands of jobs and closed dozens of plants.

In 2001, the company posted what was then the largest annual loss in U.S. corporate history - more than $56 billion.

147-year-old Domino plant closes in N.Y.

NEW YORK - Brooklyn's vintage Domino Sugar plant, a fixture on the East River for 147 years, will close its refinery operation and lay off about 200 bitter workers.

The plant's familiar red neon sign will still light up for a while. The American Sugar Refining Co., which owns the factory, said the refinery business will end by February, but an estimated 60 workers will keep their jobs in packaging.

'Self-healing' grid being developed
Economic signals turn green
Now, it's rising rates pushing home sales
Goodyear, union say OK on deal
Kodak tries to keep up
Home-themed center lands Sofa Express
Tristate Summary
Business digest
Morning memo
What's the buzz?