Pacific Northwest Bellevue-based Western Wireless, which expects its merger with Alltel will be completed this summer, reported first-quarter...

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Bellevue-based Western Wireless, which expects its merger with Alltel will be completed this summer, reported first-quarter profit tumbled 85.3 percent.

Western Wireless, which operates primarily under the Cellular One brand, reported a first-quarter profit of $5.3 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with $36.2 million, or 37 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 16.5 percent to $520.2 million from $446.5 million.

Its latest profit was trimmed by $10 million in merger expenses and a noncash charge of $24 million related to its Slovenian business.

During the quarter, Western Wireless added a record 58,600 domestic subscribers to bring its total to 1.4 million. Internationally, the company added 100,300 subscribers for a total 1.8 million.


Same-store sales surpass expectations

Starbucks said April same-store sales — sales at stores open more than a year — rose 9 percent on increased demand for coffeemakers.

News of the sales gain, which was more than analysts’ estimates, pushed the stock of the largest U.S. coffee-shop chain up 99 cents, or 2 percent, to $51.60 in after-hours trading yesterday.

Same-store sales were expected to rise 7.4 percent, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Financial. Total sales rose 23 percent to $487 million for the four weeks ended May 1, said Seattle-based Starbucks.

Cowlitz Bancorporation

Merger would offer entry into Seattle

Cowlitz Bancorporation announced plans to merge with troubled Seattle-based AEA Bancshares in a stock deal valued at $5.8 million to $6.9 million.

If approved by regulators and shareholders, the merger would mark Cowlitz’s expansion into the Seattle market, where it will operate under the name Bay Bank. AEA is the parent company of Asia-Europe-Americas Bank, which has assets of $113 million.

Cowlitz Bancorp. has $287 million in assets, and operates seven branches under the Bay or Cowlitz names.

T-Mobile USA

Bellevue company a customer favorite

Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among wireless voice and data service business customers, according to a report released yesterday by J.D. Power & Associates.

The 2005 Business Wireless Satisfaction Study measured business customers’ satisfaction in eight categories, including call quality, sales representatives, customer service, billing, offerings and promotions, performance, company image and cost of service.

T-Mobile performed well in all categories and received an index rating of 744 on a 1,000-point scale. Following close behind was Verizon Wireless with a rating of 737, then Cingular Wireless, 711; Sprint PCS, 709; and Nextel Communications, 704.

The study found that on average, a company’s monthly bill was $4,116 for voice service and $2,859 for data services.

Compiled by Seattle Times business staff and Bloomberg News.


Pacific Northwest


Brand’s shoes will no longer be at Sears

Nike will stop selling shoes and other products to Sears, Roebuck & Co. at the end of October.

“This was a brand decision following a routine account review and the recent expiration of Nike’s agreement with Sears,” said spokeswoman Joani Komlos.

Kmart Holdings purchased Sears in March. Nike may be concerned about damaging its brand if the shoes are offered at Kmart’s discount stores, said New York-based Debbie Millman, a president of brand consultant Sterling Group.


Maintenance assist in India pledged

Boeing said it will assist in setting up an aircraft-maintenance facility in India, following a $6.9 billion order from the nation’s biggest overseas carrier.

Boeing will also assist in training pilots for the aircraft it plans to sell in the country, Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president in charge of sales at Boeing, said by phone in New Delhi yesterday.

On April 26, Boeing won an order from Air India for 50 passenger jets.

Icicle Seafoods

Cannery purchased in Alaska fishery

Icicle Seafoods, a Seattle seafood company, has purchased a Bristol Bay cannery.

Icicle closed a deal at the end of March to buy Woodbine Alaska Fish of Egegik, Alaska, Icicle President Don Giles said. He would not disclose the price.

The cannery’s former operator, Virginia Ferrari, who lives in California, could not be reached for comment.

Bristol Bay is the scene of the world’s largest run of sockeye salmon. Icicle has operated in Bristol Bay for 26 years but has always cleaned and frozen its fish aboard ships anchored offshore. Now the company will have an onshore plant with the ability to can salmon, Giles said.


Stock undervalued in buyout, suit says

Corixa has been sued by an investor who claims the Seattle biotech company’s stock is undervalued in a $300 million buyout offer by GlaxoSmithKline.

Corixa agreed to be acquired by Glaxo, Europe’s largest drugmaker, for $4.40 per share in cash, the company said last week. In a suit filed Tuesday in Delaware Chancery Court, investor Miriam Sarnoff said Corixa’s directors are obligated to get the best price for the company. Its stock hit a 52-week high of $6.25 a year ago.

Colleen Beauregard, a spokeswoman for Corixa, said the company hasn’t reviewed the complaint and can’t immediately comment. Glaxo spokeswoman Nancy Pekarek said the company had no comment.

Nation and World


10,000 to 13,000 jobs will be slashed

IBM said yesterday it would cut between 10,000 and 13,000 jobs and record a pretax charge between $1.3 billion and $1.7 billion in the second quarter.

The majority of the cuts are planned for Europe, where the company began slashing jobs even before it announced its disappointing first-quarter earnings last month.

IBM surprised investors in April when it missed first-quarter earnings estimates by 5 cents a share. Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge said the company planned a “sizable restructuring.”

IBM shares rose 61 cents to close at $77.08 yesterday. In after-hours trading, the stock was up another 72 cents.

Compiled from The Associated Press, Dow Jones Newswires and Bloomberg News