SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. plans to pay out most of its cash hoard directly to shareholders through a combination of dividends and stock buybacks totaling up to $75 billion over four years, the software maker said Tuesday, ending speculation about what it planned to do with its billions in cash reserves. Microsoft, which has a near monopoly on the software that runs the world's desktop computers, generated $10.4 billion in cash during its 2003 fiscal year alone. But its stock price has been little changed for almost three years, increasing pressure on the company to do something with its cash reserves that now total at least $56 billion.
Charles Schwab takes over discount brokerage
SAN FRANCISCO -- Discount broker Charles Schwab Corp. dumped CEO David Pottruck on Tuesday and replaced him with founder Charles Schwab, hoping the man who created the company can rejuvenate a business that has been sputtering for several years. The San Francisco-based company made its surprise announcement as it released its second-quarter results. Schwab reported a 10 percent drop in its profit for the three months ended June, reversing a recent streak of improved earnings.
House construction shows slowdown in June
WASHINGTON -- Home builders took a breather in June, sending housing construction down to its lowest level in just over a year. It was another sign the economy slowed down last month. The number of housing projects launched by builders clocked in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.8 million units, an 8.5 percent drop from May's level, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Although the 1.8 million pace was the lowest since May 2003 and was weaker than economists expected, it still represented a respectable level of activity, according to analysts.
-- From wire reports