Ford will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort...

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Ford will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort to cut costs and replace those leaving with lower-paid workers.

Thursday’s announcement came as Ford said it narrowed its losses in 2007 but warned that the outlook for U.S. sales in 2008 remains grim.

Ford President and Chief Executive Alan Mulally said the automaker will also trim salaried staff, mostly through attrition but possibly through layoffs, as it tries to adjust to a slumping U.S. market.

“We are going to match our production capacity to the real fundamental demand,” Mulally said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts and media.

Ford lost $2.8 billion, or $1.30 per share, in the fourth quarter, narrower than a loss of $5.6 billion, or $2.98 per share, in 2006. The full-year loss of $2.7 billion, or $1.35 per share, was significantly better than 2006, when Ford lost $12.6 billion, or $6.72 per share.

Ford reported revenue of $44.1 billion for the fourth quarter, up from $40.3 billion in the year-ago quarter. The company reported full-year revenue of $172.5 billion, up nearly 8 percent.

Excluding one-time special items, Ford lost 20 cents per share for the quarter and 19 cents per share for the year, in line with Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had predicted a loss of 19 cents per share for the quarter and 17 cents per share for the year.

Mulally said Ford remains on track to make a profit in 2009, but is expecting another loss in 2008.

Ford shares fell 4 cents to $6.26 Thursday.


Profit goes up, outlook falls short

Biotechnology company Amgen said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit topped Wall Street expectations, but it forecast earnings well short of expectations for 2008.

The company earned $835 million, or 76 cents per share, compared with profit of $833 million, or 71 cents per share, during the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 2 percent to $3.75 billion from $3.84 billion.

Excluding a mix of buyout and restructuring charges, the company said it earned $1 per share, compared with 90 cents per share in adjusted profit a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected a profit of 97 cents per share on revenue of $3.54 billion.

But Amgen set its forecast for 2008 adjusted profit between $4 and $4.30 per share, well below Wall Street expectations for profit of about $4.37 per share. Revenue is expected to range from $14.2 billion to $14.6 billion, with Wall Street expecting revenue of $14.49 billion.

Amgen shares gained $1.28 to $47.40 in after-hours trading. They rose $1.27, or 3.1 percent, to close at $46.12 before the results were released.

Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., has about 1,000 workers in the Seattle area.


Wii propels earnings increase

Nintendo’s profit for the first nine months of the fiscal year nearly doubled from the previous year, propelled by booming sales of its hit Wii game machine, the company said Thursday.

Group net profit at Nintendo, which also makes Super Mario and Pokémon games, totaled $2.43 billion for the nine months ended Dec. 31, up from $1.24 billion for the same period in fiscal 2006. Nintendo didn’t give a quarterly breakdown.

Sales during the nine months jumped to $12.4 billion from $6.7 billion a year ago.

The Kyoto-based company, with its U.S. headquarters in Redmond, kept its profit forecast at $2.58 billion for the full fiscal year through March 31, but raised its sales forecast to $15.29 billion, up from an earlier estimate of $14.5 billion.

Sun Microsystems

2Q results reflect cost-cutting steps

Sun Microsystems’ fiscal second-quarter profit nearly doubled to edge past Wall Street’s estimates Thursday, reflecting the server and software maker’s cost-cutting efforts and maneuvers to shore up demand amid fierce competition.

The Silicon Valley company’s results, released after the market closed, followed a rally fueled by investor optimism about the results.

Sun’s stock rose $1.30, or nearly 9 percent, to $16.12.

Sun’s net income leapt 95 percent, rising to $260 million, or 31 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 30. That was a penny higher than the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, and nearly twice as high as Sun’s profit of $133 million, or 15 cents per share, during the same period a year earlier.


Wireless unit boosts earnings

AT&T earned $3.1 billion in the fourth quarter as its wireless and broadband businesses did well, a trend the nation’s largest telecommunications company said would help it keep growing even in a sputtering economy.

AT&T’s net income for the quarter came to 51 cents per share, it said Thursday. Revenue nearly doubled to $30.35 billion from $15.9 billion, mostly due to the takeover of BellSouth.

Excluding the effects of acquisitions, the company would have earned 71 cents per share during the fourth quarter, in line with the expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

The company earned $11.95 billion in 2007, amounting to $1.95 per share. In the previous year, the company earned $7.36 billion, or $1.89 per share.

Even so, shares of AT&T fell 94 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $35.75 Thursday.

Investors seem to be fretting that softness in the company’s wired-phone and broadband businesses might worsen if the economy does, said Chris King, an analyst for Stifel Nicolaus.

Compiled from The Associated Press