Other items: Early results expected from lung-cancer trial; Xbox cord recalled due to fire hazard; and others.

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Starbucks


Coffee liqueur adds jolt to product lineup

Starbucks yesterday launched its first alcoholic drink, a coffee liqueur.


Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, made in collaboration with Jim Beam Brands, will be sold in restaurants, bars and liquor stores, not in Starbucks’ coffeehouses. Alcohol content is 20 percent by volume, or 40 proof.

A 750 milliliter bottle will sell for about $23.


Starbucks and Jim Beam, a unit of Fortune Brands, said the launch follows successful test marketing in Denver and Austin, Texas.

Half of Starbucks’ customers drink coffee liqueur and the chain’s customers are nine times more likely than most Americans to drink a coffee liqueur, Starbucks said its research shows.


Cell Therapeutics


Early results expected from lung-cancer trial

Cell Therapeutics said yesterday it expects results from its lung-cancer trial to be ready for release in early to mid-March.


The company had said the results, a long-awaited survival analysis for patients on its drug Xyotax, could be expected by late March to early April. Now it says its clinical research organization is getting the data ready earlier than expected.

Cell Therapeutics said it plans to submit the results in time for consideration at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in May. The company’s stock rose $1.09, or 12.1 percent, to $10.13 yesterday.


Hollywood Entertainment


Blockbuster bid for takeover rejected

Hollywood Entertainment, the second-largest video-rental chain, rejected Blockbuster’s unsolicited $883 million takeover bid because of antitrust concerns and said it favors a merger with Movie Gallery.


The antitrust risk of the bid from Blockbuster, the largest video chain, makes Dothan, Ala.-based Movie Gallery’s $13.25-a-share all-cash offer better than Blockbuster’s $14.50-a-share cash-and-stock bid, Wilsonville, Ore.-based Hollywood Entertainment said.

Hollywood Entertainment’s recommendation to shareholders may spur Dallas-based Blockbuster to boost its offer for the No. 2 chain, said Stacey Widlitz, an analyst with Fulcrum Global Partners in New York.


Compiled from Dow Jones Newswires, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Seattle Times business staff


Microsoft



Xbox cord recalled due to fire hazard

Microsoft said yesterday that it was recalling 14.1 million power cords for its Xbox game console because they can be a fire hazard.


The Redmond software company said fewer than one in 10,000 of its Xbox consoles has the problem, and added that 30 customers have reported fire damage. Seven Xbox users burned their hands, while 23 reported smoke damage or damage to their carpets or entertainment centers.

Peter Moore, a corporate vice president with the company’s home and entertainment division, declined to say how much the recall will cost the company.


Everywhere except Europe, the recall affects Xboxes manufactured before Oct. 23, 2003. In Europe, it affects those manufactured before Jan. 13, 2004. Overall, the recall affects about 70 percent of the approximately 20 million consoles sold.

Customers can order a free replacement cord by going to the game console’s Web site, www.xbox.com. Until a new power cord is delivered, the company is recommending that Xbox users turn off their game players while not in use.


Microsoft


Mayor dismisses talk of news-service sale

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday shot down recent market rumblings over a possible sale of the Bloomberg LP news service he founded to Microsoft.


“You’ll have to talk to Bloomberg, but trust me, if they were going to sell the company to Microsoft I would know about it,” the mayor said at a news conference. “There are no plans and there have never been any conversations with Microsoft.”

Mayor Bloomberg raised questions over whether the news service was for sale after telling an audience at a November public forum that he has no plans to return to Bloomberg LP after leaving public office, and that “eventually I will sell the company because if I don’t, my estate will have to.”


The billionaire entrepreneur, who owns 72 percent of New York-based Bloomberg LP, left the privately held company in 2002 to become mayor. He is expected to seek a second term this fall.

Spokespeople for Bloomberg news service and Microsoft were not immediately available for comment.


Boeing


Air Force orders trio of 737-700s

Boeing said yesterday that it won a U.S. Air Force order worth as much as $177 million for three 737-700 models.


The 126- to 149-seat medium-range planes, to be delivered in 2007, will be used to transport government officials and military officers, company spokesman Peter Conte said. Chicago-based Boeing’s defense unit, which handles all military business, will install the interiors and paint the aircraft, he said.

The list price for a 737-700 is between $50.5 million and $59 million, according to Boeing’s Web site. That doesn’t include any discounts that Boeing often gives to buyers.


Separately, Boeing said it won an order for three 737s from an unidentified customer or customers. Conte declined to name the buyer or the specific 737 models being purchased. Depending on the version, 737s list for $44 million to $74 million.

Also yesterday, Air France-KLM Group, Europe’s biggest airline, said it plans to exercise an option to buy four 777-300 airplanes, worth as much as $982 million at list prices, as it replaces older models.


The Paris-based airline has 10 options for the plane, which can seat about 365 passengers and will replace the 747-300 model. Delivery will begin in April 2006.

Boost Mobile



Young Washington wireless users wooed

Boost Mobile, a subsidiary of Nextel Communications, said yesterday it launched its service targeting wireless users under the age of 35 in Washington.

The Irvine, Calif.-based company offers Nextel services, such as its well-known push-to-talk service, but packages it especially for a younger audience by offering prepaid service and flashy handsets. It also uses in its marketing professional surfers and snowboarders and hip-hop artists like Kanye West and Ludacris.


Boost is now in 22 U.S. markets. The phones can be purchased at Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Sam Goody, Media Play and Nextel retail stores.

Nation / World


Coca-Cola


Beverage giant raises dividend

Coca-Cola yesterday said it raised its quarterly dividend 12 percent, citing confidence in its long-term cash flow a day after the company reported unexpectedly strong fourth-quarter earnings.


The beverage giant also plans to reduce the size of its board to 14, opting not to replace departing director Robert Nardelli. He is the chief executive of Home Depot.

Coca-Cola said it will pay a quarterly dividend of 28 cents a share on April 1 to shareholders of record on March 15. The company last paid a dividend of 25 cents a share on Dec. 15.


On Wednesday, the company reported a 30 percent increase in fourth-quarter net income to $1.2 billion, or 50 cents a share. That’s up from the prior year’s $927 million, or 38 cents a share.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires and Seattle Times business staff