National briefs

Friday, March 15, 2002

Fortune names SBC 'most admired' telecom

Fortune magazine has named SBC Communications Inc., parent company of SBC Southwestern Bell-Missouri, America's "most admired" telecommunications company. This is the sixth time SBC has topped the industry rankings. In the past decade, no other telecommunications company has made it to the top of the industry ranking more times than SBC.

SBC finished first in every performance category, receiving its highest individual score (7.79) in the category of financial soundness and an overall composite score of 7.30, more than one percentage point better than the nearest competitor. SBC joins other corporate leaders such as General Electric, Johnson & Johnson and Southwest Airlines as national leaders in their respective industries.

Chrysler reports fourth-quarter loss

Due to a withering economic climate in the United States and a bruising incentive war among automakers, the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler AG last week reported a loss for the fourth quarter of 2001.

But thanks to successful cost-cutting measures and a number of new products in the pipeline, company executives said they are sticking to their goal of breaking even by year's end.

The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based arm of the German-American automaker reported a loss of 359 million euros ($320 million) in the October-December period. That was an improvement over its performance a year earlier when it lost 1.4 billion euros in the quarter.

Revenue at the division was 17 billion euros ($15.2 billion) in fourth quarter 2001, compared to 16.1 billion euros a year earlier.

Economy shows rebound in fourth-quarter pace

The U.S. economy grew in the fourth quarter at its fastest pace in a year, powered by the biggest jump in consumer spending on cars and other big-ticket goods since 1986, the government reported late last week.

The latest snapshot of the economy's health as measured by the gross domestic product suggests that the recession, which began in March, has probably ended and may turn out to be the country's mildest downturn ever, analysts said.

That's consistent with the economic assessment Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan provided to Congress one day earlier, though Greenspan cautioned that the recovery will probably be modest.

Billionaires club drops by 83 members

The world's distinct club of billionaires dropped 83 members this year to 497 as recession and fallout from the terrorist attacks reduced their wealth. The group's combined worth fell to $1.54 trillion from $1.73 trillion last year, according to Forbes magazine's 16th annual ranking of billionaires released late last week.

Among the missing: AOL Time Warner Chairman Steve Case, whose company stock has declined by about half since last year, and Gary Winnick, chairman of Global Crossing, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January.

They led a second year of decline in the number of billionaires since the tech downturn began pressuring the world economy in 2000. The largest drop of 91 came last year.

Missouri exports decrease in 2001

JEFFERSON CITY -- Missouri exports in 2001 declined 13.2 percent from 2000, according to the Massachusetts Institute for Social and Economic Research (MISER).

Through year-end, Missouri exported $6.88 billion in total products, compared to $7.93 billion (revised) in 2000.

It was the slowest year for Missouri exports since 1998, when exports totaled $6.83 billion. Declines in seven of the state's top 10 export categories - including double-digit drops in four industries - more than overwhelmed the increases posted in the remaining three industries.

Among those categories finishing the year in decline were computer and electronic products (-51.89 percent); electrical equipment, appliances and components (-30.88 percent); food and kindred products (-20.04 percent); agricultural products (-18.6 percent); primary metal manufacturing (-9.41 percent); machinery, except electrical (-3.91), and chemicals (-0.74 percent).

Only transportation equipment showed a significant increase (16.17 percent). The remaining industries registered increases of less than 2 percent - fabricated metal products (1.81 percent) and plastics and rubber products (1.81 percent).

As in the past, Canada and Mexico remained Missouri's top export recipients, although both experienced decreases. Canada imported $1.63 billion worth of Missouri goods, a decline of 5.13 percent, while Mexico's $1.17 billion is a 10.78 percent drop. Of the state's top 10 export recipients from 2000, only one country, Australia, dropped from the list and was replaced by Germany.

The remaining countries in the top 10, the value of the Missouri products imported, and the comparison to 2000 were: Belgium ($302 million, down 3.77 percent), Japan ($299 million, up 3.09 percent), United Kingdom ($252 million, down 31.25 percent), Singapore ($247 million, down 67.09 percent), Brazil ($216 million, down 4.05 percent), Argentina ($209 million, up 8.77 percent), Germany ($191 million, up 21.82 percent), and China ($177 million, down 8.68 percent). These 10 countries account for 68.1 percent of Missouri's total exports.

The export data was compiled and analyzed by the foreign trade unit of MISER, based on information received from the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division.

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