Business memo 12/10/01

Monday, December 10, 2001

Fru-Con Construction earns safety mark

Fru-Con Construction Corp.'s team at the Procter & Gamble Paper Products Co. at Cape Girardeau has reached 10 million safe labor hours, accumulated over the past 11 years, marking the first time a Fru-Con job site has achieved 10 million safe effort hours.

Fru-Con has maintained continuous on-site staff at P&G facilities 17 years, and has not had a lost-time injury at the plant since April 15, 1990.

On average, Fru-Con employs more than 200 engineering and construction employees at the P&G facility. The Craftsman International Union and area subcontractors supply labor for Fru-Con projects at the plant.

Safety is the No. 1 priority on all Fru-Con sites. "We're pleased to be the first job site to achieve this major milestone," said Karen Schenkelberg, Fru-Con site manager. "Safety planning and management are paramount in everything we do, every day."

Elbe Watkins, Fru-Con's corporate safety director is impressed. "This safety performance is phenomenal," said Watkins.

Fru-Con has had a work relationship with P&G for more than 50 years. Fru-Con provides construction, engineering services to P&G projects throughout the United States.

Dates set for 16th agricultural expo

Dates have been established for the 16th annual Heartland Agriculture and Natural Resource Expo, which will be held at the Black River Coliseum in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

More than 100 booths will display products relating to all aspects of agriculture and natural resources in Southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas.

Ag Expo 2002 will be open Jan. 18-19.

Educational seminars, musical entertainment, and other events are on the two-day schedule, including a milking contest, which was a big hit last year.

Pendelton names store of the month

The Cape Girardeau Pendleton Store, 2117 William St., has been named Store of the Month for the fifth time this year by Pendleton's Corp., with headquarters in Portland, Ore.

The latest honor was for October. To earn the recognition, a store must have the highest increase over its budgeted plan in the entire Pendleton Co.

Peggy Tinsley is local store manager.

Funeral chapel offers pamphlets on griefLorberg Memorial Funeral Chapel Inc., 829 N. West End Blvd., provides nine pamphlets to assist grieving people during the holidays.

Also available are titles for children and common myths about grief. The holiday season is often among the most difficult times for people who have experienced the death of a loved one. The pamphlets are available at Lorberg Memorial Funeral Chapel.

Spartech fourth-quarter earnings announced

Spartech Corp. has announced sales and earnings for its fourth quarter and fiscal year, which ended Nov. 3.

Sales for fiscal 2001 were $937.1 million, down about 16 percent from last year's $987.5 million.

Operating earnings fell 17 percent for the year, due to the lower volume. Net earnings per diluted share for fiscal 2001, were $1.11, compared to $1.72 last year.

Sales for the fourth quarter were $215.8 million, down about 16 percent from last year's fourth quarter sales of $2.57 million. Net earnings for the quarter were 24 cents a diluted share, down from 40 cents for the same period a year ago.

Spartech, a producer of engineered thermoplastic materials, polymeric compounds and molded products headquartered in St. Louis, has two operations in Cape Girardeau.

OPEC expected to curtail oil production

OPEC was expected to trigger a 6 percent cut in its official crude oil output after Russia, relenting to intense pressure, agreed to reduce its production by 150,000 barrels a day to help prop up sagging oil prices.

Russia's decision Wednesday ended a showdown with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that threatened to unleash a potentially devastating price war for crude. One energy analyst forecast that the overall decrease in oil output would nudge gasoline prices higher but said he expected the rise would be modest.

Oil futures surged almost $1 higher on the news, then fell back as skepticism grew about Russia's resolve to honor its commitment.

Weak November sales for largest retailers

The outlook for the holiday season grew dimmer Thursday as the nation's largest retailers, bruised by a combination of unseasonable weather and a sluggish job market, reported the weakest November results since 1990.

Discounters and other value-oriented stores, particularly Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kohl's Corp., and TJX Cos., had the strongest sales as consumers scoured for bargains. Mall-based merchants, particularly apparel and department stores, suffered once more, languishing among piles of discounted sweaters and outerwear.

Most notably, Gap Inc., whose business has dropped precipitously, saw sales at stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales, plummet 25 percent, worse than the 17 percent decline analysts expected.

-- From staff, wire reports

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