Business memo 04/14/03

Monday, April 14, 2003

Miracle-Ear Centers now in Platinum Club

Miracle-Ear Centers has been named a member of the Platinum Club by the Miracle-Ear home office. This marks the second consecutive year the franchise owned by Ken and Lisa Swinford and Joyce Hill-Cooley has received the award.

Membership in this organization denotes excellence in sales, service, market penetration and customer satisfaction. This designation indicates the highest level of performance for a specified group in the Miracle-Ear franchise network. A celebration to honor all Platinum Club members was held at the Ocean Reef Resort in Key Largo, Fla., in February.

There are Miracle-Ear Centers in Cape Girardeau, Perryville and the Farmington Super Wal-Mart. There are satellite offices in Jackson Medical Arts Center at St. Genevieve Memorial Hospital.

General Electric reports first-quarter profits

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- General Electric Co. reported Friday its first-quarter profit rose 20 percent as a majority of its businesses posted double-digit growth in earnings.

GE earned $3 billion, or 30 cents per share, in the January-March period, compared with net income of $2.5 billion, or 25 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

The 2003 figures reflect a noncash charge of $215 million for required accounting changes, while the year-ago quarter was weighed down by a similar charge of more than $1 billion.

Excluding the unusual items, GE earned $3.2 billion, or 32 cents per share, in the first three months of this year, down 9 percent from $3.5 billion, or 35 cents per share, in 2002.

Philip Morris fails to reach compromise

CHICAGO -- Lawyers for cigarette maker Philip Morris USA and plaintiffs in a $10.1 billion lawsuit failed to reach a compromise Friday over a $12 billion appeal bond the company has been ordered to pay, but are scheduled to meet again today.

The presiding judge called the talks productive. The lawyers left the courthouse after the session without speaking to reporters.

Spokesmen for the company and the plaintiffs' lawyers declined to comment further.

Tenet Healthcare sues shareholder

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Tenet Healthcare Corp. sued a dissident shareholder, claiming that he's trying to topple the board of directors for the second time in two years and spreading lies about the company in an effort to rile investors.

The nation's second-largest hospital chain said it believed Dr. M. Lee Pearce and his Tenet Shareholder Committee has consulted at least two unidentified financial institutions about orchestrating a leveraged buyout and hired a proxy solicitation firm.

The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, names both Pearce and the group. It asks Pearce to clarify his intentions by filing documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gary Cripe, general counsel for the shareholder committee, said the lawsuit appeared to be without merit.

-- From staff, wire reports

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