Woolworth discloses inquiryThe Securities and Exchange...

BUSINESS DIGEST

May 11, 1994

Woolworth discloses inquiry

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into alleged insider trading by Woolworth Co. executives, the retailer disclosed yesterday in its proxy statement.

The proxy provided the first confirmation of a government inquiry into allegations of securities abuses by company officials, who are already facing civil lawsuits from shareholders.

Early last month, Woolworth Chairman and Chief Executive William Lavin and Chief Financial Officer Charles Young stepped down, pending a company investigation into the accounting irregularities that forced Woolworth to restate its quarterly earnings and cut in half its full-year profit.

According to SEC filings, Mr. Young and several vice presidents sold 26,818 shares at an average of $24 each between October and February -- before the accounting problems surfaced. Woolworth closed unchanged yesterday, at $17.125.

Nordstrom earnings nearly triple

Nordstrom Inc. said yesterday that its earnings nearly tripled in the first quarter, to $32 million, far exceeding Wall Street's expectations.

The Seattle-based retailer said the earnings were up 183 percent from a year ago. Earnings per share shot up to 39 cents from 14 cents, while revenues rose 9.6 percent, to $762 million, from $696 million. The quarter ended April 30.

SmithKline plans generic Tagamet

Anglo-American drug giant SmithKline Beecham PLC said yesterday that it would market a generic version of Tagamet in the United States, just days before the anti-ulcer drug loses its patent here.

Two independent manufacturers have already received U.S. approval to market cheap generic copies of Tagamet, one of the most successful prescription drugs in history. Others are expected to follow Mylan Laboratories Inc. and Canada's Novopharm in the coming days and weeks.

Air Canada to buy A-319s

After intense trans-Atlantic competition among aircraft manufacturers, Air Canada announced yesterday that it would replace its fleet of 35 aging U.S.-made DC-9s with the A-319 airplanes produced by Europe's Airbus Industrie.

The A-319 is listed in the Airbus catalog at $39 million, which would value the initial order at about $1 billion.

GM to add to pension fund

The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. is expected to announce today its support of General Motors Corp.'s plan to contribute 185 million shares of its Class E stock to cut its unfunded pension obligations, GM said yesterday.

The stock contribution would reduce GM's overall $22 billion in unfunded pension obligations by about $6.5 billion.

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