Among other items: Emeritus yesterday issued its long-delayed third-quarter earnings report and restated more than three years' worth of financial statements; Cell Therapeutics said yesterday it is on track to release pivotal clinical trial results in late March or April for Xyotax; and Charter Communications said yesterday it was scrapping its position of chief administrative...

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T-Mobile USA said yesterday it added slightly more than 1 million subscribers in the fourth quarter for a total subscriber base of 17.3 million.

Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA, a subsidiary of German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom, is the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the United States, after Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS.

In the fourth quarter, Verizon Wireless said yesterday, it added 1.7 million subscribers for a total of 43.8 million, and Cingular, which acquired Redmond’s AT&T Wireless late last year, added 1.8 million for a total 49.1 million.

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T-Mobile USA said churn, or customer turnover, was 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, down from the year-ago period when it was 3.2 percent. The company will report financial results March 3.

Restatements push Emeritus losses to $11 million

Emeritus, a Seattle-based operator of assisted-living facilities, yesterday issued its long-delayed third-quarter earnings report and restated more than three years’ worth of financial statements.

The restatements, caused by changes in the way Emeritus accounts for many of its leased facilities, added $11.3 million to the struggling company’s accumulated losses.

Net loss for 2003, for example, rose from $3.8 million to $8.1 million. Emeritus’ first-half loss increased from $2.6 million to $8.6 million.

For the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Emeritus reported a loss of $5.6 million before payment of preferred stock dividends, compared with a restated loss of $4.1 million in the same period a year earlier. Fully diluted loss per share was 61 cents, compared with a profit of 58 cents per share a year earlier; the difference was due to a $14.5 million one-time gain in 2003’s third quarter.

Third-quarter revenue rose 63 percent, to $80.6 million, but higher operating expenses and interest payments swamped the top-line improvement.

Emeritus did not say when it would issue its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results.


Cell Therapeutics: Extended study on track for Xyotax

Cell Therapeutics said yesterday it is on track to release pivotal clinical trial results in late March or April for Xyotax, an experimental drug for lung cancer.

The results have been delayed for several months because the main goal of the study is to extend patient survival, and not enough patients had died to show a statistically valid comparison between the Xyotax patients and the control group. The company said there have now been enough deaths to do the comparative analysis.

Cell Therapeutics said it hopes to finish the analysis in time to present it at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s largest annual meeting of cancer physicians. The meeting is being held in May.

The company also said results for two other Xyotax trials should be ready for release in the second and third quarter of the year. The company’s stock rose 46 cents, or 5.1 percent, to $9.41 after the news.

Orphan Drug status could speed testing for Sonus Pharmaceuticals

Sonus Pharmaceuticals said yesterday it has received an Orphan Drug designation for its leading drug candidate, for use in patients with bladder cancer.

The designation from the Food and Drug Administration gives the Bothell company an incentive to develop its drug, Tocosol paclitaxel, for a small potential market of fewer than 200,000 patients. The company would receive a seven-year market monopoly if it is first to win approval for the product, and it could receive tax credits or a waiver of its drug-application review fee.

Sonus said it is in discussions with the FDA about designing a pivotal clinical trial for Tocosol, a reformulated chemotherapy drug designed to minimize toxic side effects. The company is also developing the drug for use in breast, ovarian and lung cancer.

Nation and World

Ebbers apologized, accountant says

The former controller of WorldCom testified yesterday that then-CEO Bernard Ebbers apologized to him in 2000 after company accountants were forced to cover up more than $800 million in expenses.

David Myers said he encountered Ebbers in a hallway in October 2000 at the company’s Mississippi headquarters, days after he and other accountants had devised a plan to paper over soaring costs.

Ebbers is charged with fraud and conspiracy, accused of orchestrating the massive accounting fraud at WorldCom, eventually estimated by investigators at $11 billion.

Kmart’s blue light made weekend appearance

The blue-light special made a brief reappearance in Kmart stores this month, but the company says it has no long-term plans to use the storied promotion.

The retailer advertised a “blue-light event” for clearance items in most of its stores on Jan. 15 and 16, said Stephen Pagnani, a spokesman for Kmart.

But he emphasized that the company is not permanently bringing back the blue light in its advertising and in-store promotions.

Kmart started using a flashing blue light to direct customers to unadvertised sale items beginning in 1965. But in the late 1980s, it lost its luster as it became another way of getting rid of unwanted merchandise and damaged goods.

Kmart reintroduced the blue-light special in 2001 after a 10-year absence. However, it gave up on it the following year.

Charter Communications trims its executive ranks

Charter Communications said yesterday it was scrapping its position of chief administrative officer, squeezing out an executive vice president who once served as interim chief financial officer.

Without elaborating, the nation’s third-largest cable company said in a regulatory filing that the move, effective today, ends its relationship with Steven Schumm.

A spokesman for Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, declined to elaborate on the move, announced in a one-sentence filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Schumm could not be reached for comment.

The disclosure came nine days after a shake-up at Charter’s highest management level, with Carl Vogel, resigning as Charter CEO and president in the wake of big losses in 2004 and the company’s struggles with more than $18 billion in debt.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff and The Associated Press