Business memo 06/03/02

Monday, June 3, 2002

This architect's rendering show's Southeast Missouri Hospital's plans to add two floors to its building at 1701 Lacey St. The cost of the project, which is scheduled to begin construction in July, is $16 million.Spartech announces 7 percent loss in sales

Spartech Corp. has announced that sales for the second quarter of 2002 were $233.2 million, down 7 percent from the amount reported in 2001. The company's fiscal 2002 second quarter operating earnings were down 17 percent from last year, as well. Net earnings for 2002 were $9.1 million compared to $10.1 million reported last year.

President and CEO Bradley B. Buechler said the second quarter was better than the first three months of 2002 and said he was optimistic the company would rebound later in the year.

St. Louis-based Spartech, which has a facility in Cape Girardeau, is a leading producer of plastic materials and has 44 facilities throughout North America and Europe.

Buick posts consecutive gains over three months

Buick's 48 percent sales improvement in April, over the same month last year, marks the third consecutive month of sales improvement for the division.

LeSabre, the U.S. industry's best-selling full-size sedan for the past 10 years, posted a 42 percent sales improvement for the month. Century, Buick's entry-level mid-size sedan, posted a 44 percent improvement while the flagship Park Avenue improved by 25 percent.

The new 2002 Rendezvous sold 4,768 for the month and 20,947 for the year, which puts it on a sales rate of about 60,000 a year.

Calendar to date, Buick sales are up 8.2 percent on 117,883 units compared to 108,954 in 2001.

AAL branch honored for community service

Aid Association for Lutheran/Lutheran Brotherhood is recognizing its Cape Girardeau branch for its effectiveness in bringing their charitable resources straight to its own community. The branch recently received a gold-star rating, the highest given by the fraternal organization, for its community service efforts.

To achieve a Gold Star rating, the branch must conduct regular business meetings, an election and a planning meeting, and sponsor at least one benevolent, one educational and one member welcome or membership growth event. Three additional activities of any combination must be conducted to receive this rating.

Miller Brewing bought by South African beer firm

Building on its strength in Asia and Africa, South African Breweries PLC splashed into the U.S. beer market last week by announcing an agreement to buy Miller Brewing Co. for $3.6 billion in stock.

The buyout would lift SAB, the world's fourth-largest brewer by volume, into second place, and make it a much tougher competitor for No. 1 Anheuser-Busch Cos. The new company, to be called SABMiller PLC, would also likely boost exports of Miller brands outside the United States.

Jobless claims down for second straight week

For a second straight week, fewer people filed new claims for unemployment insurance, but the level of claims was still high in an indication that the job market remains sluggish.

Claims dropped by a seasonally adjusted 12,000 to 410,000 -- the lowest level since the middle of March -- for the week ending May 25, the Labor Department reported last week. Claims had fallen by 3,000 in the prior week.

-- From staff, wire reports

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