Among other items: Shares of Amazon.com rose yesterday after an analyst predicted strong holiday results; Adelphia Communications has offered $300 million to settle investigations by the SEC and Justice Department; and Janus Capital Group plans to offer two new mutual funds in February.
Less than a week ago, Spanish carrier Air Europa provided a coup to Airbus when it became the first airline to commit to buying the A350, the wide-body jet derivative being offered as a rival to Boeing’s 7E7.
Yesterday, the carrier announced a firm order for three Boeing 737-800 airplanes and swore allegiance to Boeing for its narrow-body fleet.
“The Next-Generation 737 is our airplane of choice for short- and medium-range service,” said Juan Jose Hidalgo, president of parent company Globalia Corporacion Empresarial.
Air Europa operates 25 737-800s and will get two more from a previous order early next year.
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The new order, worth $195 million at list prices, brings Boeing’s total of firm orders for the year to 249.
Amazon.com stocks, forecasts up on holiday results
Shares of Amazon.com rose yesterday after an analyst predicted strong holiday results.
Stock of the Seattle-based Internet retailer finished at $44.63, up $2.38, or 5.6 percent. The stock rose 8.5 percent Monday after the company said it had its strongest holiday season.
Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck raised his sales and earnings estimates for Amazon. Peck said he expects fourth-quarter revenue to be $2.54 billion, at the high end of the company’s outlook that may still be too conservative, he said. Likewise, Peck said he expects earnings per share of 44 cents compared with his previous forecast of 41 cents.
Sonus Pharmaceuticals trims shares for biotech purchase
Bothell-based Sonus Pharmaceuticals said yesterday it has agreed to reduce the number of shares it will pay to buy Synt:em, a small French biotech company.
Sonus said it will issue a maximum of 5.4 million shares to acquire Synt:em, down from the 7.6 million to 8.9 million it planned to issue when the acquisition was announced last month. Synt:em shareholders would own a maximum of 20 percent of Sonus, instead of 26 percent to 29 percent of the company, if milestones are reached.
The Sonus board and Synt:em shareholders have voted for the revised terms of the acquisition. Sonus shareholders need to approve it before it can be completed, which is expected in the first quarter of 2005.
Sonus Chief Executive Michael Martino said it was appropriate to amend the agreement because Sonus’ lead product has “increased value.” Sonus said the value is clearer because the Food and Drug Administration has approved the company’s regulatory plan for a pivotal trial of its Tocosol drug.
Key Nike executive leaving board, not company
Nike said Thomas Clarke, a senior executive at the athletic-shoe company, would step down from the company’s board but remain president of new ventures for Nike.
The Beaverton, Ore., company said that with new President and Chief Executive William Perez joining the board, it would continue to have 10 directors, including two executive directors.
Top Edward D. Jones & Co. executive to leave, pay part of settlement
Edward D. Jones & Co.’s top executive is stepping down at the end of next year, agreeing to pay about $3 million of a $75 million settlement with the Justice Department over claims tied to the company’s mutual-fund sales practices.
Douglas Hill’s planned exodus as managing general partner — a title he has held for a year — was revealed in a filing by the suburban St. Louis-based brokerage with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The announcement came nearly a week after Edward Jones agreed to pay $75 million to settle allegations of improper disclosure of revenue-sharing payments. In Monday’s filing, the company called Hill’s roughly $3 million payout “a disproportionate share.”
$300 million offered in Adelphia settlement talks
Adelphia Communications has offered $300 million to settle investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department, the company said.
The company is in settlement talks with both agencies to quash civil penalties over alleged securities violations by members of the founding Rigas family, according to a 2003 annual report released by the company.
Adelphia said $125 million of the settlement offer would be funded by litigation waged on the company’s behalf.
Teen fashion retailer Wet Seal to shut some stores
Teen fashion retailer Wet Seal said yesterday it plans to close around 150 stores and lay off about 2,000 employees as part of a strategy to cut costs.
The round of store closings is expected to be completed by the end of February, the company said. The retailer now operates 559 stores in 47 states.
“While a difficult to decision to make, it is necessary for Wet Seal to reduce its cost structure and focus on those stores that can deliver the best performance as we implement our new merchandise strategy,” Joe Deckop, interim chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The company, based in Orange County, Calif., did not say which locations were targeted for closure.
The cost of the restructuring, including employees’ severance pay, will be reflected in the company’s fourth-quarter financials, ending Jan. 29, the company said.
Owners of failed Superior Bank may receive millions
The Pritzker family, which co-owned a suburban Chicago bank that failed three years ago, appears set to receive tens of millions of dollars in a settlement involving the bank’s collapse.
Investigators for the U.S. Treasury, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Congress blamed risky business strategies by Superior Bank’s management for the collapse, but they also cited failures on the part of Superior’s outside auditing firm, Ernst & Young. The FDIC accused the auditing firm of negligence and concealing the bank’s true financial conditions.
The Pritzkers agreed to a $460 million voluntary settlement in 2001 that barred government action against the owners. The owners admitted no liability. In exchange, the family would receive 25 percent of anything the FDIC recovered from Ernst & Young, and 50 percent of any punitive damages.
Janus Capital to offer two new mutual funds in ’05
Janus Capital Group plans to offer two new mutual funds in February, some three years after investors began pulling billions of dollars out of the company hit by scandal and lackluster performance.
The company said in letters filed this month with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it plans to open the Janus Explorer and Research funds, pending regulatory approval.
It would be the first new investment product offered by Janus since it opened the Global Opportunities fund in mid-2001, the company said.
The company has been working to rebuild investor trust. Janus gained prominence for its funds’ superior performance during the market boom in the late 1990s, but many of its funds have performed poorly in the past several years.
Janus also has settled with state and federal regulators after being accused of allowing favored investors to rapidly trade funds at the expense of long-term investors.
The company acknowledged 10 market-timing arrangements, all of which have been canceled, and some top executives resigned.
Assets under Janus’ management have dropped from more than $300 billion at its peak to $131.3 billion as of Oct. 31, the latest figure available from the company.
Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Dow Jones Newswires, The Associated Press and Reuters