Business briefs

Published: Friday, January 21, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 11:56 p.m.

Market slips on poor tech earnings reports

  • Nervous investors overlooked strong earnings from Citigroup Inc. and a possible merger of two department store giants, and pushed stocks substantially lower Thursday on disappointing earnings from the technology sector.
    Investors were troubled as perennial market favorite eBay Inc. missed its earnings target for the fourth quarter and said its outlook for the current quarter was lower than expected. Three brokerage firms lowered their ratings on the online auctioneer.
    The Dow Jones industrial average fell 68.50, or 0.65 percent, to 10,471.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 9.22, or 0.78 percent, at 1,175.41, and the Nasdaq composite index dropped 27.71, or 1.34 percent, to 2,045.88.

    Court agrees to toss investors' lawsuits

  • NEW YORK - A federal appeals court agreed Thursday that a lower court was right to throw out class-action lawsuits blaming investors' losses in two Internet companies on failures by one-time star Internet analyst Henry M. Blodget.
    The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the findings of the late U.S. District Judge Milton Pollack, who tossed out the lawsuit brought by investors against Blodget and his former employer Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.
    The ruling was significant because it was the first decision by the Second Circuit addressing issues related to some 140 lawsuits which blame Merrill Lynch for misleading investors about 27 Internet companies.
    A three-judge appeals court panel wrote that the lawsuits blaming Merrill Lynch and Blodget for misleading investors failed to show that the alleged misrepresentations and omissions in research reports caused the losses.

    AT&T end year with strong fourth quarter

  • NEW YORK - AT&T Corp. closed out another rough year with a strong fourth quarter driven by aggressive cost-cutting and restructuring efforts, but the telephone company issued a dour forecast for the year ahead.
    Earnings for the final three months of 2004 nearly doubled to $625 million, or 78 cents per share. In the same period in 2003, AT&T earned $340 million, 43 cents per share. More than half of the latest profit came from a tax benefit related to last fall's huge writedown in the value of AT&T's long-distance phone network. That network became a far less valuable asset after a series of regulatory defeats which prompted AT&T to halt all marketing and customer retention efforts for traditional local and long-distance phone service.

    Ford sees $104 million fourth-quarter spike

  • DEARBORN, Mich. - Income from Ford Motor Co.'s financing and credit business helped the nation's No. 2 automaker swing to a $104 million profit in the fourth quarter despite a loss on the automotive side.
    The company, which released fourth-quarter and year-end results Thursday, withheld its financial forecast for 2005 until next week.
    Ford's profit for the October-December period compared with a loss of $793 million a year ago, when it incurred heavy charges for restructuring in Europe and a new agreement with Visteon Corp., its one-time auto parts subsidiary, which hurt the bottom line. The fourth-quarter profit amounted to 6 cents a share compared with a loss of 43 cents a share in the October-December period a year ago.
    - Compiled from The Associated Press
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