Other items: 3 years of results to be restated; Executive is second to leave company ; IPO planned; goal set at $575 million ...

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Digital marketing and technology company aQuantive reported a 73.5 percent increase in profit in the fourth quarter. The better-than-expected results pushed its stock up 11.7 percent yesterday.

The Seattle company’s latest quarterly profit was $7.1 million, or 10 cents a share, up from $4.1 million, or 6 cents a share, a year ago. The fourth-quarter results include Razorfish and other aQuantive acquisitions.

Analysts had been expecting the company to earn 5 cents a share. The results pushed aQuantive’s stock up $1.08 to $10.30.

The company posted $60.7 million in sales for the fourth quarter, down 5 percent from $63.9 million in the year-earlier period. The company began excluding certain media costs last year, however, and when that practice is applied to the 2003 results, the fourth-quarter sales were $18.5 million.


3 years of results to be restated

Starbucks said yesterday that it will restate three years of results to reduce retained earnings through fiscal 2004 by $12.6 million due to errors in how it accounted for leases.

The Seattle-based coffee chain also filed its first-quarter results with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday after a short delay.

Starbucks said last week it needed a five-day extension for the quarterly filing to address concerns raised by the SEC’s top accountant in a letter last week to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The SEC asked for more specifics in companies’ financial statements about how they account for property leases following a wave of restatements from restaurant chains.

American Seafoods

Executive is second to leave company

A second top official of American Seafoods is leaving the Seattle-based fish processor.

Michael Hyde, general counsel of American Seafoods Group (ASG) and chief executive of one of its main subsidiaries, American Seafoods Co. (ASC), since 2000, is resigning effective March 31, the company said yesterday. Hyde will continue to consult with the company on “strategic business issues.”

His departure follows that of Jeffrey Davis, who resigned as ASG’s chief operating officer effective Jan. 1.

Boise Cascade

IPO planned; goal set at $575 million

Boise Cascade Holdings, created by the sale of Boise Cascade’s paper and timberland assets last year and owned by Chicago-based buyout firm Madison Dearborn Partners, plans to sell shares in an initial public offering.

The Boise-based company plans to raise as much as $575 million in the offering, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week. The stock will trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Boise Cascade Holdings acquired the timber properties in October from Boise Cascade, when that company changed its name to OfficeMax as part of its transition from a lumber company to the No. 3 office-products retailer.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Reuters and Bloomberg News


Flat earnings posted after Fiorina’s ouster

A week after firing its top executive, Hewlett-Packard (HP) reported quarterly earnings that were essentially flat, and its interim chief executive acknowledged, “There is work to be done.”

For the three months ended Jan. 31, HP reported a profit of $943 million, or 32 cents per share, only 0.7 percent higher than the $936 million, or 30 cents per share, it earned in the first fiscal quarter of 2004.

Excluding special items, including at least $115 million to settle patent litigation with Intergraph, HP would have earned 37 cents per share, compared with 35 cents per share in the same period a year earlier.

Quarterly revenue was a record $21.5 billion, up 10 percent from $19.5 billion in the same quarter a year ago. But when adjusted for currency fluctuations around the world, revenue increased only 5 percent from a year ago, said interim CEO Robert Wayman.

HP’s quarterly performance beat analysts’ expectations, who forecast HP would earn 34 cents per share on sales of nearly $21 billion.

HP shares closed yesterday at $21.06, down 6 cents yesterday. In extended trading, the shares gained 72 cents, or 3.4 percent, after the report was released.

Yesterday’s earnings came one week after HP’s board ousted Chairman and Chief Executive Carly Fiorina for failing to slash costs and boost sales quickly enough.


Details disclosed of defeated MCI bid

WASHINGTON — Qwest yesterday released the terms of its spurned bid for MCI, saying it was seeking to “eliminate any public confusion” about the terms of the offer, which was trumped by Verizon.

Qwest said in the filing that the total effective value of its bid to MCI shareholders, including $1.60 a share in dividends, was about $8 billion — more than a $1 billion above Verizon’s offer.

Qwest offered $23 a share to MCI stockholders, consisting of $7.50 a share in cash and $15.50 of Qwest common stock, based on a fixed exchange ratio of 3.735 Qwest shares per MCI share.

Verizon said Monday it would acquire MCI for $6.75 billion in shares, cash and dividend payments. The deal valued MCI at $20.75 a share at the time.

There have been grumblings from some MCI shareholders that the company turned down a higher offer from Denver-based Qwest.

That view was underscored by Qwest Chief Executive Dick Notebaert, who said to analysts this week regarding MCI’s acceptance of Verizon’s bid, “That is a lot of shareowner value to leave on the table.”


Ex-CEO described as livid about fraud

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A red-faced Richard Scrushy exploded in anger after being confronted about fabricated earnings at HealthSouth in 1999, according to testimony yesterday by a former employee who said he quit over the fraud and claimed a former company officer punched him.

Leif Murphy, once a group vice president at HealthSouth, told about the encounters after former finance chief Bill Owens finished 11 days of testimony that cast Scrushy as leader of the long-running scheme at the rehabilitation giant.

Prosecutors say Scrushy directed a conspiracy to overstate HealthSouth’s earnings by some $2.7 billion for seven years beginning in 1996.

The defense has portrayed Owens as the head of a group that committed the fraud and hid it from Scrushy.

Owens and Martin are among 15 former HealthSouth executives who pleaded guilty in the accounting fraud and could testify against Scrushy. Owens is awaiting sentencing; his attorney has said he expects him to serve time in prison.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires