AT&T earns $520 million in third-quarter report

Saturday, October 22, 2005

NEW YORK -- AT&T Corp. painted a positive picture Friday with what may be its final earnings report before becoming part of SBC Communications Inc., topping Wall Street forecasts with third-quarter income of $520 million and boosting its revenue forecast for the second time this year. The iconic telephone company, which in January agreed to be acquired by SBC for $16 billion, also expressed optimism the deal would close before year's end, winning regulatory approval without concessions such as asset sales or price freezes.

Northwest resumes hiring permanent replacements

MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwest Airlines Corp. resumed hiring permanent replacements for striking mechanics on Friday, after their union refused to put the company's latest offer to a vote. Few thought union workers would approve the deal, which would have only brought back about 500 of more than 4,000 union members who went on strike.

American Express sues Savvis CEO over big bill

NEW YORK -- American Express is suing the CEO of a communications company for payment of $241,000 worth of disputed credit card charges at a Manhattan topless club. American Express says in papers filed in state court that Savvis Inc. chief executive officer Robert A. McCormick was in the club Scores in October 2003 with at least three other men. After McCormick got the $241,000 corporate credit card bill, Savvis called American Express and complained that some of the charges were fraudulent, the lawsuit says.

-- From staff reports

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) -- Halfway through a four-year digital makeover, as its quarterly losses mount, Eastman Kodak Co. has some analysts wondering if the picture-taking pioneer is headed for a breakup.

But even as Kodak reported a $1.03 billion loss for the third quarter, its new leadership -- largely recruited from digital heavyweights like Hewlett-Packard Co. -- say the results show they're making real progress symbolized by one historic milestone: Sales of digital products now exceed revenue from film-based photography for the first time.

Patent-rich Kodak, they also point out, is No. 1 in sales of digital cameras and digital X-ray systems in the United States and photo kiosks, thermal home printers and online photo services worldwide.

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Caterpillar Inc. shares skidded more than 9 percent Friday after record third-quarter earnings still fell short of Wall Street's expectations and the construction equipment maker issued a lower profit forecast for the year.

Caterpillar stock tumbled $5.10 to $48.93 in afternoon trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares have traded in a 52-week range of $38.38 to $59.88.

The stock slide came on the heels of third-quarter earnings that rose 34 percent as strong global demand and price increases continued a three-year sales upswing for Peoria-based Caterpillar, known for its trademark yellow bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment.

Earnings increased to $667 million, or 94 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30, up from $498 million, or 70 cents per share, last year. Analysts expected earnings of $1.06 per share, according to a Thomson Financial poll.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP ) -- Swedish telecom LM Ericsson said Friday its third-quarter earnings grew 22 percent as sales of wireless network equipment surged in North and South America.

As mobile operators worldwide continued to upgrade and expand their networks, Ericsson's sales were also strong in the Asia-Pacific region, but flat in Western Europe.

Net profit rose to 5.31 billion kronor ($673 million) in the quarter, from 4.35 billion kronor a year earlier, but was slightly below analysts' forecasts. Sales were up 14 percent to 36.2 billion kronor ($4.59 billion).

Ericsson shares slipped 0.4 percent to close at 26.10 kronor ($3.31) in Stockholm trading.

LONDON (AP) -- Satellite TV operator British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC said Friday it has agreed to buy high-speed Internet provider Easynet Group PLC for 211 million pounds ($375.1 million).

The deal will give BSkyB a crucial "triple play" service -- the ability to offer customers a combined package of high-speed Internet access, pay-TV and phone calls over the Internet.

BSkyB, which is 36.6 percent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said it will offer 175 pence ($3.11) a share for Easynet. The offer is being recommended to shareholders by Easynet management.

Easynet shares have surged this week on speculation that BSkyB would make a bid, and spiked by the close of business Friday a further 35 percent to 172 pence ($3.05). BSkyB shares dipped 0.67 percent to 515.5 pence ($9.10).

BOSTON (AP) -- Three private-equity investment firms have jointly bid to buy the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and two other restaurant chains that are being sold by France's Pernod Ricard SA, two sources involved in the process said Friday.

The equal partners in the bid are Boston-based Bain Capital, Washington, D.C.-based Carlyle Group and Boston's Thomas H. Lee Partners, said the sources, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because their firms do not publicly comment on investment deals before they are finalized.

The consortium submitted a bid for all three properties of Canton-based Dunkin' Brands Inc. on Wednesday, the deadline for bids set by Pernod Ricard, the sources said.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Oil field services provider Schlumberger Ltd. on Friday said rapid growth in worldwide exploration and production and higher-priced contracts fueled a 70 percent increase in third-quarter profits. The company said its results were hurt by recent hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Schlumberger reported a quarterly profit of $540.8 million, or 89 cents per share, up from $318.2 million or 53 cents per share a year earlier.

Earnings from continuing operations rose to 86 cents per share, excluding one-time charges and gains, compared with 52 cents a year ago.

Schlumberger said its latest quarter was reduced by $36 million, or 6 cents per share, because of recent hurricanes that disrupted activity in the Gulf of Mexico, with more than 25 days of lost operating time. Excluding that impact, earnings would have been 95 cents per share, the company said.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Maytag Corp., the nation's No. 3 appliance maker that is being acquired by bigger rival Whirlpool Corp., on Friday reported a steeper-than-expected loss in the third quarter amid excess capacity and high prices for oil and materials.

Maytag reported a loss of $18.2 million, or 23 cents per share, compared to profit of $7.5 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier. Sales rose 6.5 percent to $1.26 billion. The results include restructuring charges of 2 cents per share, compared with 16 cents per share a year ago.

On that basis, Wall Street expected a 4-cent-per-share loss, the average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Chief Executive Ralph Hake told industry analysts in a conference call that the company expects to close a deal to borrow $650 million in the next quarter, which will permit it to move ahead with plans to close factories and consolidate production.

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