Pacific Northwest Cingular Wireless is laying off 18 employees in Redmond and Bothell, bringing to 676 the number of layoffs since the company...

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Cingular Wireless is laying off 18 employees in Redmond and Bothell, bringing to 676 the number of layoffs since the company acquired Redmond-based AT&T Wireless last year, according to a state work-force reduction notice released yesterday.

Atlanta-based Cingular expected to cut about 10 percent of its work force after the merger, but it’s beating its forecast in Washington. So far it has laid off 12 percent of the 5,700 former AT&T Wireless employees in the state.

“We certainly have a larger work force here, and this had been corporate headquarters, and a number of positions that are duplicate positions would normally occur in administrative positions,” spokeswoman Anne Marshall said.

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Stragglers ask SEC for more time to file

This is the time of year when 10-K reports drop like autumn leaves, but several Northwest public companies are asking regulators for more time.

The companies — including Captaris, Coeur d’Alene Mines, Cray, Digimarc, Fisher Communications, NeoRx and WatchGuard Technologies — have told the Securities and Exchange Commission they need more time to pull together their financial statements, finish their audits and comply with other reporting and disclosure requirements.

The 10-Ks, detailed annual reports on operations and finances, are in most cases due 75 days after the end of a company’s fiscal year. For companies whose fiscal years ended on or around Dec. 31, that makes the 10-Ks due this week.

Most said they should be able to file this month.


Larger building for original store’s site

Costco’s first warehouse club will be replaced Thursday by a new, larger building on the same site.

The original outlet, opened in 1983 on Fourth Avenue South, will be demolished to make room for a gas station and more parking.

The new, 158,000-square-foot warehouse is 30 percent larger than the original store.

Onyx Software

New CFO is chosen: Robert Chamberlin

Three days after its chief financial officer resigned, Onyx Software has picked a replacement.

The Bellevue company will announce today that it hired Robert Chamberlain, 51, a former F5 Networks and Photodisc CFO. Currently part-time CFO at PayScale, he starts at Onyx on March 28.

Onyx, a maker of customer-relationship-management products, announced Tuesday that CFO Brian Henry, 48, was resigning for personal reasons and to pursue other interests.

Puget Sound Energy

Wind-farm project construction begins

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) started construction on its $200 million Hopkins Ridge Wind Project in Southeast Washington last week.

The wind farm, on 11,000 acres of wheat fields northeast of Dayton in Columbia County, should be generating power by mid-2006. Hopkins Ridge will have 80 turbines producing enough power for 50,000 homes a year.


3rd-quarter earnings take 36 percent leap

Nike, the world’s biggest athletic-shoe maker, said third-quarter earnings surged 36 percent, beating analysts’ estimates.

Net income rose to $273.4 million, or $1.01 a share, from $200.3 million, or 74 cents, a year earlier, the Beaverton, Ore.-based company said yesterday. Sales in the quarter ended Feb. 28 jumped 14 percent to $3.31 billion, helped by a decline in the U.S. dollar. Revenue rose 18 percent in both Europe and Asia, outstripping the 10 percent increase in the U.S.

Morgan Stanley / Goldman

Commodities, bonds attracting investors

Investors may be avoiding the volatile stock market, but commodities, currency, mortgages and bonds are enjoying a renaissance — and the result has been surprisingly strong profits for Wall Street’s brokerage firms.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs yesterday joined other securities companies this week in announcing vigorous quarterly earnings fueled by trading in fixed-income holdings. The first-quarter results have shown an unexpected nimbleness by the companies’ investment strategists and their clients.

For the first quarter, which stretched from November through February, profits at Morgan Stanley rose 20 percent, while Goldman Sachs’ earnings were up 17 percent from the year-ago quarter. Both firms, like Lehman Brothers Holdings and Bear Stearns earlier in the week, said fixed-income trading boosted their bottom line and allowed them to handily beat Wall Street’s forecasts.

Adobe Systems

Quarterly income up, 2005 targets raised

Adobe Systems said income in the latest quarter rose as wider adoption of its PDF standard for digital documents continued to drive demand, prompting the software-maker to boost its fiscal 2005 financial targets.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company yesterday said it earned $151.9 million, or 60 cents a share, on revenue of $472.9 million in the fiscal first quarter ended March 4.

Excluding the effect of planned repatriation of some foreign earnings, and investment gains and losses, Adobe posted operating profit of $133.8 million, or 53 cents per share.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 50 cents a share.

In the previous year, the company earned $123.8 million, or 50 cents a share, on revenue of $423.3 million in the same period.

Adobe Systems targets second-quarter earnings of 51 cents to 55 cents a share, roughly in line with analysts’ projections.

The company predicts revenue of $475 million to $495 million, also bracketing Wall Street’s view of $478.2 million.

The company’s board also approved a two-for-one stock split to take effect in May.

Adobe’s shares closed up 70 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $63.89.


Quarterly earnings up 51 percent in year

The FedEx Corp., parent of the world’s largest cargo airline, posted third-quarter earnings per share of $1.03 yesterday, a 51 percent increase from a year ago that bested Wall Street’s expectations.

For the three months ending Feb. 28, the company earned $317 million, up from $207 million, or 68 cents per share, for the same period last year.

Revenues were $7.34 billion, a 21 percent increase from $6.06 billion.

Analysts had forecast per-share earnings of 98 cents.

FedEx shares fell 9 cents to close at $96.84.


Bids raised in battle over software maker

Business software makers Oracle and SAP intensified their takeover tug of war for retail software maker Retek yesterday as they progressively raised the stakes with higher bids.

Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle finished the day with the higher offer at $11.25 per share, trumping SAP’s $11-per-share bid from earlier in the day. Oracle raised the stakes even after Retek’s board unanimously accepted SAP’s offer.

Germany-based SAP first thought it had acquired Minneapolis-based Retek for $8.50 per share 2 ½ weeks ago, but then Oracle offered $9 per share.

Based on Retek’s outstanding stock as of Feb. 25, SAP’s all-cash bid is worth $631 million, nearly twice Retek’s market value before the auction began.

Retek’s shares surged $1.13, or 10.7 percent, to close yesterday at $11.65 on the Nasdaq. AMR Research analyst Bruce Richardson said he won’t be surprised if SAP and Oracle swap bids for a while longer.


Shareholders face cash-or-stock choice

Shareholders in Sears have until Thursday to decide whether to exchange their shares for cash or for stock in the new company being formed as a result of the merger with Kmart.

The two companies said yesterday that Sears shareholders have until 5 p.m. Thursday to make their choice. Both retailers are holding shareholder meetings that day to approve Kmart’s acquisition of Sears.

Kmart’s $11 billion acquisition of the department-store chain will create the nation’s third-largest retailer.

Shareholders can choose cash, shares in the new Sears Holdings, or a combination of the two.

However, people might not receive the exact form of compensation elected because the overall picture must conform to the merger agreement, the companies said.

The agreement stipulates that 55 percent of Sears shares will be converted into half a share each of the new company, while 45 percent will be converted into $50.

Kmart shareholders are to receive one share in the new company for each Kmart share.

Marsh & McLennan

Brokerage names Erburu as chairman

Marsh & McLennan, the world’s largest insurance brokerage, yesterday said it named Robert Erburu as nonexecutive chairman.

Erburu became lead director and de facto head in October after Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Greenberg resigned following a bid-rigging lawsuit from the New York Attorney General’s Office.

In November, five other inside directors resigned, leaving Marsh Chief Executive Michael Cherkasky and 10 outside directors remaining.

No replacement was immediately named as the lawsuit took precedence. Marsh settled the suit for $850 million at the end of January.

Erburu, 74, joined the board in 1996, the same year he retired as chairman of Times Mirror.

New York-based Marsh had assets of $18.34 billion as of Dec. 31.


Warranties to cover use of biodiesel fuel

Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, said it will extend warranty protection for the use of biodiesel blend fuel in its U.S. market diesel-powered automobiles.

The decision is the result of a research agreement last year between Volkswagen and Arthur Daniels Midland, the two companies said yesterday in a joint news release. Decatur, Ill.-based ADM, the world’s largest grain processor, said it expects the decision will result in increased demand for soybeans. Volkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker, has its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News, The Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires