Archive for Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Briefcase

January 21, 2004

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GM auto profits fall

Financing operations and asset sales propped up earnings at General Motors Corp. in the fourth quarter as profits from the automotive business fell, but the company beat Wall Street earnings estimates and provided an optimistic outlook for 2004.

The world's largest automaker said Tuesday its net income for the October-December period equaled the $1 billion it earned in the same period a year earlier. The most recent quarter's results, also boosted by special items, amounted to $2.13 a share, compared with $1.71 a share in the fourth quarter of 2002.

But global automotive profits were off 31 percent from strong results in the fourth quarter of 2002 when GM used heavy consumer incentives to post extremely robust sales and meet U.S. market-share goals.

Telecommunications

AT&T Wireless likely to create bidding war

Cingular Wireless has fired first in a potential bidding war to buy AT&T Wireless, offering more than $27 billion cash for a deal that would create the nation's largest cell phone company.

AT&T Wireless' board of directors received a formal offer from Cingular during the weekend, several sources with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

But three other wireless companies also have contacted AT&T Wireless to express strong interest in buying the company, one of the sources said. It was unclear how formal an overture has been made by any of those suitors -- Vodafone PLC, of Britain; NTT DoCoMo, of Japan; and Nextel Communications, of Reston, Va.

Officials from AT&T Wireless and Cingular declined to comment.

Cingular, jointly owned by SBC Communications and BellSouth, still doesn't own spectrum in several key U.S. markets. A deal with AT&T Wireless could help fill in many of those gaps.

Kansas

Hays call center to close

Sykes Enterprises, a customer management firm based in Tampa, Fla., will close its western Kansas call center, the company announced to employees Tuesday morning.

The Hays center employed 370 people in July 2003. Andrea Burnett, a spokeswoman for the company, could not confirm how many jobs in the area would be lost. Burnett said Sykes planned to work with local agencies to help newly unemployed workers with job search skills.

It is the third Sykes facility to be slated for closure in recent months. The company will close call centers in Klamath Falls, Ore., on Thursday and Ada, Okla., on March 8.

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