Business briefs

Published: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2005 at 10:41 p.m.

Wall Street slumps amid mixed earnings

  • NEW YORK - Stocks sank Wednesday as strong economic numbers were eclipsed by mixed corporate results, including disappointing earnings from JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    The prospect of higher interest rates is a looming concern. And while economic numbers have been solid, the fact that inflation rose during 2004 at the fastest pace in four years exacerbated those concerns. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 88.82, or 0.84 percent, to 10,539.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 11.35, or 0.95 percent, to 1,184.63. The Nasdaq composite index lost 32.45, or 1.54 percent, to 2,073.59.

    Pfizer profits soar, but miss expectations

  • NEW YORK - Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug company, said Wednesday that its net income for the fourth quarter more than quadrupled, driven by strong sales of cholesterol drug Lipitor and comparison with results depressed by bigger charges a year ago. Its earnings excluding certain items missed analysts' forecasts, however, and its shares slipped. Pfizer also said that revenue and income will likely be tempered due to patent expirations and other factors. Its shares closed down 42 cents to $24.88 on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, versus a 52-week low of $21.99 in December.

    GM earnings decline on health care costs

  • DETROIT - Rising health care costs and lingering struggles in its European operations helped drive down General Motors Corp.'s profit by 37 percent in the fourth quarter and the world's biggest automaker said it expects a rough start this year.
    GM officials said Wednesday the company expects break-even or better results in the current quarter, reflecting lower vehicle production and sales of less profitable cars and trucks. They expect U.S. vehicle sales to be down slightly in 2005 from robust volume last year. GM shares fell 6 cents to close at $36.71 on the New York Stock Exchange after rising as high as $37.47 earlier in the session. Its shares are still above their 52-week low of $36.48.

    Maytag pulling goods off Best Buy sales floor

  • DES MOINES, Iowa - Maytag Corp. said Wednesday it no longer would sell Maytag-branded appliances in Best Buy Co. retail stores, where sales have declined significantly in recent years.
    "At this time, it does not make sense to continue selling our major appliances at Best Buy," said Ralph F. Hake, Maytag chairman and CEO, in a statement. In 2004, white goods sales at the retailer represented about 1 percent of Maytag's consolidated revenue. The discontinuation will become effective later in the first quarter of 2005, the company said. Maytag will continue to sell its Hoover floor care products at Best Buy.
    - Compiled from The Associated Press BUSINESS BRIEFING

    Potential Ebbers jurors get five-question form

  • NEW YORK - Potential jurors for the trial of former WorldCom Inc. chief Bernard Ebbers were asked Wednesday whether they had financial ties to the company and what they had read in the media about the case. Hundreds of people filed into a federal courthouse in Manhattan to fill out a five-question jury questionnaire, the first step in the jury-selection process for the upcoming securities fraud trial.

    Molson earnings report delayed on Coors vote

  • MONTREAL - Molson Inc., Canada's biggest brewer, said Wednesday it is delaying the release of its latest quarterly financial results until after shareholders vote on its proposed merger with Adolph Coors Co. of the United States.
    Coors, the third biggest U.S. brewer, and Molson have proposed to combine in a deal that would create a $6 billion brewer that would be the world's fifth largest.

    Comics legend Stan Lee wins partial judgment

  • NEW YORK - Stan Lee, the legendary cartoon hero creator who gifted Spider-Man with the powerful "spidey-sense," is feeling a tingling of his own - in his wallet.
    A Manhattan federal judge ruled that Lee is entitled to a potential multimillion payday from Marvel Enterprises of profits generated by the company's television and movie productions - particularly the box-office smash "Spider-Man," which earned more than $800 million worldwide, and its hugely successful sequel.
    - Compiled from The Associated Press
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