Among other items: Microsoft offered yesterday to begin alerting the world's governments early to cyberthreats and security flaws in its software; and News Corp. reported an 80 percent jump in net profits for the last three months of 2004 yesterday.

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Starbucks said yesterday that sales at company-operated coffee shops open at least 13 months rose a less-than-expected 7 percent in January, sending the company’s stock down nearly 5 percent in after-hours trading.

Three Wall Street analysts had forecast increases of between 8 and 10 percent, according to research notes. Starbucks has a long-term goal of posting monthly same-store-sales increases of 3 to 7 percent. The results marked the lowest monthly same-store sales increase since Starbucks raised beverage prices by 6 percent last October. Last January, same-store sales rose 12 percent.

The sales figures were released after the close of the stock market’s regular trading session. In the after-hours session, Starbucks stock sank $2.70 to $54.

World governments offered Microsoft security help

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Microsoft offered yesterday to begin alerting the world’s governments early to cyberthreats and security flaws in its software.

Microsoft also wants to work with governments to help prevent and mitigate damage from hacker attacks, said Giorgio Vanzini, director of Microsoft’s government-engagement team.

Microsoft already provides the U.S. government with early warnings. The early-warning initiative was announced at an economic forum in Prague, Czech Republic, organized by Microsoft. Chairman Bill Gates also announced at the forum that Microsoft has begun a project to create European research centers for developing new technologies and fostering economic growth.

Nation / World

Report finds Grasso NYSE compensation “excessive”

Richard Grasso had too much control in setting his controversial $187.5 million compensation as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and took advantage of personal connections with board members to push it through, the exchange claimed in a previously confidential report released yesterday.

The result, according to the report, was “excessive” and “unreasonable” compensation for Grasso, who headed the world’s largest stock market for eight years before resigning under fire a month after signing a new contract in 2003. The report claims up to $156.7 million of the pay package for Grasso was excessive.

A Grasso spokesman responded by noting that all of his compensation was approved by the board and said Grasso did an outstanding job running the exchange, which is a nonprofit organization owned by seat holders.

Video sales, cable lead 80 percent News Corp. profit jump

News Corp. reported an 80 percent jump in net profits for the last three months of 2004 yesterday, driven by big gains in home-video sales at its Twentieth Century Fox film studio and higher income at its Fox News Channel and other cable networks.

The company, which also completed its relocation to the United States from Australia last November, earned $386 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $215 million in the comparable period a year ago.

Compiled from Reuters and The Associated Press