In other items: Huntington's disease focus of partnership; Port of Seattle commission elects leader; Nextel Partners anticipates growth in fourth quarter; correction prompts revision in ADIC's results; Intel posts record quarterly sales; Toyota plans to build a hybrid car in U.S.; and convicted banker put on house arrest.
Microsoft released critical security fixes yesterday for two flaws that affect versions of the company’s operating system going back to Windows 98, both of which could allow an attacker to take control of another person’s computer.
One of the flaws also leaves vulnerable users who have downloaded Service Pack 2, a major security upgrade for Windows XP that was released last summer. The flaw that affects SP2 takes advantage of a problem with Internet Explorer that could allow an attacker to gain control of a computer if a user was persuaded to visit a malicious Web site.
The other flaw could be exploited if a user employs a specially formulated cursor or icon that secretly allowed an attacker to gain control of another person’s computer.
Huntington’s disease focus of partnership
Targeted Genetics said yesterday it has signed an agreement with Sirna Therapeutics to co-develop treatments for Huntington’s disease, a deadly degenerative brain disease.
Under the agreement, development costs and revenues from the program will be shared by the two companies.
The collaboration will focus on using a tiny modified virus from Targeted Genetics to carry a substance that silences the gene that leads to Huntington’s disease. There are currently no treatments for Huntington’s, which afflicts an estimated 30,000 people in the United States.
Port of Seattle
Commission elects Edwards as leader
Bob Edwards was elected president of the Port of Seattle commission yesterday, vowing to build on last year’s record-setting gains on the waterfront and at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
It is the second time Edwards has won the one-year post since he was first elected to the commission in 1999. He replaces Paige Miller, who has not said whether she will run for another term as commissioner this year.
Edwards will preside over one of the most politically contentious commissions in years. The five-member board has split over tax and budget policies in recent months, and a battle is shaping up over plans to redevelop the uplands of Terminal 91.
Growth anticipated in fourth quarter
Kirkland-based Nextel Partners released early performance figures for the fourth quarter at an analyst conference yesterday in Phoenix.
According to preliminary numbers, Nextel Partners said it added a record 94,900 subscribers in the fourth quarter. At the end of the third quarter, it had about 1.5 million subscribers.
It also expects fourth-quarter churn, or customer turnover, to be about 1.3 percent, a decrease from the previous quarter’s 1.4 percent. It said average revenue per subscriber, a key industry figure, would fall slightly in the fourth quarter to $67 a month from the third quarter’s $68 a month.
Correction prompts revision in results
Redmond-based Advanced Digital Information Corp. (ADIC) said yesterday it would revise its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2004 financial results because of a change in how it recognizes investment losses.
Net income for the fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2004, will increase $508,000, or 1 cent a share. Fourth-quarter net income will increase $783,000, or 2 cents a share.
The revision is the result of a correction in the method of recognizing about $1 million, net of taxes, in cumulative losses associated with a private technology limited partnership.
ADIC had recorded the entire loss during the fourth quarter but decided instead to recognize the losses from fiscal 2001 through 2004. The company will file the adjustments in its 2004 annual report to be released by Friday.
Chip maker posts record quarterly sales
Intel’s fourth-quarter profits fell 2 percent, but it reported record sales as the company benefited from strong holiday demand for computer chips and it reduced an inventory buildup from earlier in 2004.
Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, said yesterday it saw strength in computer microprocessors, motherboards and chipsets as well as flash memory, used primarily in cellphones. It reduced inventory by $559 million during the period.
The company also said it expects sales this quarter to be in the range of $8.8 billion and $9.4 billion, the midpoint of which is slightly rosier than the average Wall Street estimate of $8.9 billion. Still, it fits within seasonal patterns, said chief financial officer Andy Bryant.
The forecast sent Intel shares 66 cents higher, or nearly 3 percent, in extended-session trading. Earlier, they closed at $22.54, down 34 cents.
“With the big inventory decline, they’re off to a running start in Q1 and Q2, which are quite seasonally sluggish quarters for them,” said Rick Whittington, an analyst at Caris & Co.
For the three months ended Dec. 25, Intel earned $2.12 billion, or 33 cents per share, on sales of $9.6 billion. In the same period in 2003, Intel earned $2.17 billion, or 33 cents per share, on sales of $8.7 billion.
Analysts were expecting the company to earn 31 cents per share on sales of $9.4 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Financial Call.
For the year, Intel earned $7.5 billion, or $1.16 per share, on sales of $34.21 billion. That compares with earnings of $5.64 billion, or 85 cents per share, on sales of $30.14 billion in the same period last year.
Toyota plans to build a hybrid car in U.S.
Toyota, Japan’s No. 1 automaker, will build gas-conserving hybrid vehicles in the United States, though plans have not been finalized, President Fujio Cho said yesterday.
For now, Toyota builds all of its hybrids in Japan. Cho, in an interview yesterday with automotive and financial journalists at the North American International Auto Show, said the company will determine by midyear which model would be the most logical to build in the United States.
Demand for the Toyota Prius has far exceeded initial expectations, creating a wait of up to six months for the gas-electric car in some areas. Toyota is set to begin selling a hybrid version of the luxury Lexus RX sport utility vehicle in mid-April and a hybrid version of the Toyota Highlander SUV in June.
Separately, Japan’s No. 3 automaker, Honda, said it will release a redesigned version of its Civic model late this year with more safety features than any other compact car, President Takeo Fukui said.
The new Civic will include standard anti-lock brakes, side-curtain air bags that can detect the seating position of the driver or passengers, a bumper designed to prevent injuries to pedestrians, and a new steel frame that disperses the force of a crash, Fukui said yesterday at the auto show.
Convicted banker put on house arrest
The most senior of four former Merrill Lynch bankers convicted of helping Enron push through a bogus deal to book false earnings has been placed on house arrest pending sentencing, and his bond has been raised to $2 million from $100,000.
The move involving Daniel Bayly, 57, followed a government request that U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein re-evaluate for flight risk the bail of three of the five men convicted in November of conspiracy and wire fraud for their roles in Enron’s sale of three power barges to the brokerage in 1999. Jurors determined the sale was really a loan designed to make Enron’s earnings look better because Enron promised to resell or buy back Merrill’s $7 million investment within six months.
According to court filings, prosecutors offered to have Bayly freeze his Merrill Lynch master account, which was more than $81 million, but he declined. Werlein granted the government’s request to increase his bond to $2 million and ordered that he be restricted to his Connecticut home until he is sentenced.
Compiled from The Associated Press, Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News