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Archive for Thursday, October 19, 2000

Business Briefcase

October 19, 2000

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Computer
Microsoft investments boost net income

First-quarter net income at Microsoft Corp. rose 7 percent, though the bulk of the software giant's profit increase came from the company's investments, not its products.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, Microsoft earned $2.21 billion, or 40 cents per share, up from $2.19 billion, or 40 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

The net results include an accounting charge of 6 cents per share. Excluding the charge, Microsoft's operating profits rose 18 percent to $2.58 billion, or 46 cents per share.

Most of the company's profit increase came from a $557 million gain on the company's investment portfolio and not from actual operations.




Gaming
Ameristar to buy Station casinos in Missouri

Station Casino in Kansas City is one of two Missouri casinos being sold to a Las Vegas gaming company for $475 million in cash.

Station Casinos Inc. announced Wednesday that it had agreed to sell its casinos in Kansas City and St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb, to Ameristar Casinos Inc.

Station's previous arrangement to sell to members of its Midwest management team was terminated after the new agreement was reached, the company said.

Also Wednesday, Station said it had agreed to buy an Ameristar casino in Henderson, Nev., for $70 million.

Both deals are subject to regulatory approvals, the companies said. Ameristar expects its purchases to close by year's end, while Station's purchase should be completed by early next year.




Media
Time Warner beats third-quarter predictions

Media giant Time Warner Inc. reported third-quarter earnings Wednesday that easily beat analysts' estimates, helping the company's stock recover from a sharp plunge the previous day.

Time Warner earned $88 million in the three months ending in September, down from $369 million in the same period last year when profits were lifted by gains from selling and swapping cable systems.

Net earnings per share were 6 cents compared to 28 cents a year earlier. Taking out one-time charges, the company earned 7 cents a share in the latest period, well above the 4 cents forecast by analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial.

Revenues rose 2.2 percent to $6.87 billion from $6.72 billion.




Government
Groups oppose gene-altered crops

Groups opposed to genetically engineered crops accused the government of violating the Endangered Species Act in considering whether to renew licenses for gene-altered crops that are toxic to insects.

The groups, which notified the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday of their intent to sue the agency, said the crops may harm a number of endangered insects such as the Karner Blue butterfly, sometimes found near corn fields.

Registrations for several varieties of genetically engineered corn and cotton are due to expire next year.

In a preliminary assessment released last month, the agency concluded there was little risk to butterflies or any other insects which the toxin is not supposed to harm. A three-day meeting by the agency's scientific advisory panel began Wednesday in Arlington, Va.




Western Kansas
Dry conditions worry cattle industry

Drought conditions in western Kansas loom as one of the cattle industry's biggest concerns, an agricultural economist told stockmen at the Beef Stocker 2000 Sale Barn Conference in Dodge City.

"Pasture conditions are severely depleted across the state and if we are going to save the grass for next year, we have got to reduce the grazing pressure and shorten the grazing period," said Rodney Jones, extension agriculture economist at Kansas State University.

Demand for beef products had been steadily falling during the past several years, but in 1999 there was a dramatic increase.

"A healthy U.S. economy is the biggest factor in the demand increase because of higher consumer income and confidence," Jones said.




Aircraft
Boeing earnings up

Third-quarter earnings at The Boeing Co. rose 28 percent as the aerospace manufacturer beat Wall Street estimates despite a drop in revenues.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, Boeing earned $609 million, or 70 cents per share, on sales of $11.88 billion, compared with $477 million, or 52 cents per share, on sales of $13.28 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Excluding nonrecurring items, Boeing earned 72 cents per share for the quarter, up from 56 cents a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 67 cents per share.

Shares of Boeing closed Wednesday up 25 cents to $60.75 on the New York Stock Exchange in a turbulent day on the stock market.

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