Other items: Rebound for Kroger predicted after loss in quarter; Northwest fare increases have remained; TSA official hired to review screening ...
Jurors reviewed testimony from former WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers for the first time yesterday but failed to reach a verdict in their third day of deliberations at his fraud trial.
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The jury of seven women and five men asked in an afternoon note to see transcripts of testimony from Ebbers, 63, who is accused of engineering the $11 billion fraud at WorldCom.
On the stand last week, Ebbers claimed he was never made aware that accountants were falsifying books at the company. The defense claims former chief financial officer Scott Sullivan masterminded the fraud.
Rebound predicted after loss in quarter
Kroger, the nation’s biggest supermarket chain, reported a $675.9 million loss for its fourth quarter yesterday but predicted it would return to profitability as it slowly recovers from a 2004 Southern California strike.
Kroger projected earnings of at least $1.16 per share for 2005 compared with $1.02 in 2004, excluding the effect of accounting write-downs of assets.
Andrew Wolf, an analyst with BB&T Capital Markets, said the forecast was disappointing.
Kroger, which owns QFC and Fred Meyer stores, said the loss of 93 cents a share for the quarter that ended Jan. 29 included an $884 million for writing down the value of the Southern California operations.
Excluding the write-down, Kroger would have earned 28 cents per share for the latest quarter, 7 cents below estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.
Kroger stock fell 87 cents to $16.85 yesterday.
Fare increases have remained
The fare increases that Northwest Airlines implemented last month largely remain, marking a change in the general direction of airfares despite some spring sales.
On Feb. 25, the airline raised all fares on routes shorter than 1,000 miles by $5 each way and by $10 each way for longer routes. Other major airlines largely matched the blanket increase.
Yesterday, Northwest spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said the higher fares remain, except for some routes where Northwest competes with low-cost carriers.
Last year, a number of airlines attempted to increase fares to pay for rising fuel costs. But in nearly every case, rival carriers refused to match the fare jump, and the attempts failed.
TSA official hired to review screening
Data broker ChoicePoint, whose massive consumer-information file was recently breached, said yesterday it has hired a top official at the government agency that oversees airport screening to review how the company screens its customers.
The Alpharetta, Ga.-based company said Carol DiBattiste, deputy administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, has been appointed as the company’s chief credentialing, compliance and privacy officer.
The TSA has been criticized for possible violations of privacy laws by asking airlines since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to turn over passenger data without their knowledge.
Compiled from The Associated Press