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Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2004

Briefcase

June 24, 2004

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FedEx Corp. delivers profitable fourth quarter

The FedEx Corp. reported a 47 percent increase in fourth quarter earnings Wednesday, citing continued growth in ground deliveries and international express shipments.

The Memphis, Tenn.-based package delivery company earned $412 million, or $1.36 per share, in the three months ended May 31, up from $280 million, or 92 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Above, a worker sorts packages at a FedEx shipping facility in Memphis, Tenn.

Layoffs

American Italian Pasta to cut about 100 jobs

After two quarters of declining earnings, Kansas City, Mo.-based American Italian Pasta Co. said Wednesday it would reduce employment 14 percent and take other steps to help it weather the low-carb climate.

The 16-year-old company, which is North America's largest producer of dry pasta, said operations at its 48-employee plant in Kenosha, Wis., would be suspended indefinitely in mid-July.

Production will be halted throughout July at the company's plant in Excelsior Springs, Mo., and for seven to 10 days in July at the plant in Columbia, S.C., to reduce inventories.

In all, American Italian plans to cut about 100 positions from its 710-member corporate and production work force.

Labor

Wichita Cessna workers threaten to begin strike

Talks on a new contract won't start until August, but workers at Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita have given union leaders authorization to call a strike if they can't reach an agreement with the company.

Tuesday's vote was only a first step; an actual strike would require approval from two-thirds of the members in another vote. Formal negotiations between Cessna and Local 774 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers are scheduled to begin Aug. 12.

The local represents about 4,300 Cessna workers, of whom about 2,650 are union members. Union officials expect difficult talks due to the state of the economy, efforts to outsource work and rising health care costs.

International

Former media executive under investigation

French investigators moved toward prosecuting former Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Marie Messier, placing him under formal investigation Wednesday for suspected financial wrongdoing, his lawyer said.

Magistrates notified Messier that he is being investigated -- a step short of formal charges -- at a hearing that lasted until early Wednesday, lawyer Olivier Metzner said.

Police questioned him as part of a probe into allegations of insider trading, share price manipulation, publication of misleading information and misusing company funds when he was head of the media group.

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