Pacific Northwest The Lilly Icos joint venture that markets the erectile-dysfunction pill Cialis said yesterday that its worldwide first-quarter...

Share story

The Lilly Icos joint venture that markets the erectile-dysfunction pill Cialis said yesterday that its worldwide first-quarter sales rose 39 percent to $150.1 million.


But the figure was below some analysts’ estimates of $164 million to $168 million, and shares of Icos dropped $2.42, or 9.8 percent, to close at $22.20.


The joint venture, half-owned by Bothell-based Icos, narrowed its loss to $41.7 million for the three months ended March 31, compared with a loss of $138.8 million for the same period in 2004.


The company said U.S. wholesalers reduced their inventory of the drug by an estimated $27 million during the first quarter.


“We continue to expect Lilly Icos to achieve profitability around mid-2005,” said Icos Chairman Paul Clark.


Microsoft



California cities’ Windows suit axed

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Los Angeles, San Francisco and other California municipalities accusing Microsoft of overcharging them for Windows software.


U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz in Baltimore granted Microsoft’s request to toss the case, which was filed last year after a series of settlements Microsoft reached, totaling $1.8 billion, to resolve consumer antitrust suits in 14 states. The judge said the cities could file an amended complaint.


Motz said the cities lacked standing to sue Microsoft under unfair-competition laws because under those laws, only individuals can sue. As for the cities’ antitrust claims, Motz said they could sue only for claims going back four years. The cities had sued for conduct going back more than 15 years.


Eugene Crew, an attorney representing the California cities, said he plans to refile the case seeking damages for a four-year period and will ask a federal judge to reconsider Motz’s ruling if the case goes to trial.


Microsoft



Forgent sued over JPEG patent

Microsoft sued Forgent Networks, seeking to invalidate a patent for the JPEG standard of digital-image processing.


In a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco, Microsoft said the Joint Photographic Experts Group, or JPEG, standard was developed by the international standards community and accused Forgent and its Compression Labs unit of claiming that a patent it holds covers technology embodied in the JPEG standard.


Austin, Texas-based Forgent has filed patent-infringement suits against more than 30 companies, the complaint says. International Business Machines, Hewlett-Packard and 20 other companies sued Forgent last year seeking to have the company’s patent invalidated.


A Forgent spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment.


SonoSite



New version of small ultrasound

Bothell-based SonoSite said it is introducing a new generation of 8-pound, handheld ultrasound systems that produce images as detailed as those from conventional ultrasound machines weighing more than 200 pounds.


Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News


Nation/World


Energy Department



Price of gasoline falls by 4 cents

The retail price of gasoline fell by 4 cents last week to average $2.24 a gallon nationwide, the Energy Department reported yesterday.


The weekly government survey said the average price nationwide of regular-grade gasoline was 42 cents a gallon higher than at the same time a year ago.


Pump prices were highest on the West Coast, averaging $2.53 a gallon, up 0.2 cent for the week, and cheapest on the Gulf Coast, where motorists paid on average $2.159 a gallon. In the Midwest, gas averages $2.15 per gallon.


U.S. trade



China may surpass Canada as exporter

China may surpass Canada this year as the largest exporter to the United States, former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said yesterday.


Her prediction comes as worries continue to mount over the soaring U.S. trade deficit with China, which reached a record $162 billion last year.


Last year, the United States imported $256 billion worth of goods from Canada compared with $197 billion from China.


China’s trade with the United States has exploded in recent years, fueled by American investment in Chinese factories.


Bank of America



No. 3 bank reports much higher profits

Bank of America’s first-quarter earnings rose sharply from a year ago as the nation’s No. 3 bank benefited from its acquisition of FleetBoston as well as strong commercial loan growth and deposit growth.


Bank of America said yesterday that its net income rose to $4.70 billion, or $1.14 per share, for the January-March period from $2.68 billion, or 91 cents per share, a year earlier.


The earnings per share easily surpassed the 97 cents profit expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.


Bank of America shares rose 45 cents to close at $44.73 yesterday.


WorldCom



New trial sought by convicted CEO

Former WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers, convicted last month of orchestrating the $11 billion accounting fraud that sank the company, has asked for a new trial, citing unfair rulings by the judge.


In papers made public yesterday, lawyers for Ebbers said the judge should have granted immunity to three former WorldCom executives who were reluctant to testify — but who the defense claims could have helped prove Ebbers’ innocence.


Lawyers for Ebbers also said the trial judge unfairly told jurors they could find him guilty based on “conscious avoidance,” which they said allowed jurors to convict Ebbers because he “should have known” about the fraud.


Krispy Kreme



Annual report to be delayed, firm says

Financially strapped Krispy Kreme told federal regulators yesterday that its 2005 annual report has been delayed because of an ongoing review of its accounting practices.


The Winston-Salem-based firm said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the analysis included accounting practices from 2004 and “earlier years as well as in fiscal 2005.”


Compiled from The Associated Press and Knight Ridder Newspapers