Did Joe Camel flap boost sales?The onslaught against Joe...

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May 20, 1992

Did Joe Camel flap boost sales?

The onslaught against Joe Camel, the debonair cartoon dromedary who stars in Camel cigarette ads, began in December. Studies that concluded the pool-playing, motorcycle-driving Joe appealed too much to the nation's youth unleashed a torrent of negative publicity against him.

Did all the bad press hurt sales of the 75-year-old brand? Hardly.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. says sales of its third most popular brand rose 6 percent in the first quarter, compared with a drop of nearly 16 percent in the same three months of 1991.

In December, the Journal of the American Medical Association published studies that found Joe Camel's image was as familiar to 6-year-olds as Mickey Mouse.

During the ensuing controversy, Camel has become the brand of choice for 32.8 percent of the smokers under age 18 -- up from just 0.5 percent three years earlier, according to the journal. In terms of money, it's a boost from $6 million a year to $476 million a year.

The tobacco industry argues there's no proof that the ads influence young people to reach for a Camel.

Keating aide guilty:


A top aide to former Lincoln Savings and Loan chief Charles H. Keating Jr. pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of bank fraud and securities fraud in the failure of the S&L. Judith E. Wischer, 43, who was a director of Lincoln and president of its parent company, American Continental Corp., admitted at a federal court hearing that she took part in a scheme to make it appear the institutions were financially sound when they were actually near bankruptcy.

The scheme involved fraudulent bookkeeping that showed that the two companies were making a profit. Wischer, 43, is the second of five defendants to plead guilty in the federal case.

Keating's son-in-law, Robert Wurzelbacher, 37, recently admitted similar offenses.

Keating, his son, Charles Keating III, and Andrew Ligget, who was American Continental's chief financial officer, are scheduled for trial Aug. 4.

Settles charges:

Salomon Brothers Inc. has agreed to pay $290 million to settle fraud charges stemming from its role in last year's Treasury bond auction scandal, according to a report published today.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the settlement late Tuesday.

The newspaper said Salomon neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in settling federal civil charges of fraud and filing false books and records.

Profits fall:

Honda Motor Co. said today that despite rising sales, its consolidated profit fell 14.9 percent in fiscal 1991 to $488 million.

The Japanese maker of cars and motorcycles said the decline in the year ended March 31 was due to a stronger yen, which resulted in lower income on loans and investments.

A strong yen means Honda can get fewer yen at home for the foreign currencies it earns abroad.

The consolidated financial results cover 357 companies, including 209 subsidiaries. Honda is the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer and Japan's No. 3 maker of passenger cars.

Stockbroker banished:

A Baltimore stockbroker has been barred from the industry and fined $5,000 for failing to pay a $1,865 arbitration award dating to 1990, according to the National Association of Securities Dealers. Richard T. Warren, 28, has not worked for an NASD member firm since early 1991, the association said.

The order barred Mr. Warren from working for any firm belonging to the association, but allowed him to apply for readmission after paying the award. The NASD said the award originally was levied jointly against Mr. Warren and his former employer, Blinder, Robinson & Co. Inc., which the NASD said is being liquidated.

AT&T starts direct-dial service:

American Telephone & Telegraph Co. began direct-dial service yesterday to all 15 of the former Soviet republics, enabling Americans to direct dial more than 2,000 cities. To reach the republics, callers must dial 0117, then a city or region code and the local number, AT&T said. Rates are $1.55 to $2.01 per minute, depending on when a call is made.

Merry-Go-Round to buy Worth Stores:

Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc. of Joppa said yesterday that it had reached an agreement in principle to acquire Worth Stores Corp., a U.S. subsidiary of Reitmans (Canada) Ltd., and operate under the Networks name. The sportswear chain has 88 stores in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest.

L.A. Gear settles:

L.A. Gear Inc., a California maker of athletic shoes, agreed yesterday to pay $404,000 to settle charges that it participated in the Arab boycott of Israel, the Commerce Department said. U.S. law prohibits individuals and companies from taking part in foreign boycotts of countries friendly to the United States and from furnishing information about business dealings with boycotted countries and blacklisted companies.

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