Home sales rose 1.8% in Dec.Sales of existing U.S. homes...

BUSINESS DIGEST

January 26, 1995

Home sales rose 1.8% in Dec.

Sales of existing U.S. homes rose 1.8 percent in December, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday, a pace well above most forecasts.

December sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.89 million units, from a revised 3.82 million units in November, the group said.

For all of 1994, existing home sales rose 4.3 percent, to 3.967 million units. The association said 1994 was the strongest year since 1978, when 3.986 million units were sold.

USF&G to retire costlier stock

USF&G Corp. said yesterday that it will retire some of the last remnants of the high-priced preferred stock it sold in 1991 as part of a corporate restructuring.

The company said it will redeem the remaining 1.3 million shares of Series C Cumulative Convertible Preferred Stock for $53.50 a share, plus accrued dividends of 33 cents. The stock, originally sold for $50 a share, pays a 10 percent annual dividend, or $5 a share.

But those who choose to convert their preferred to common stock before the redemption date of Feb. 24 stand to do much better. Each preferred share is worth 4.158 shares of USF&G common. At yesterday's closing price of $15, up 12.5 cents, that amounts to $62.37 per share of Series C.

To accommodate the conversions, USF&G expects to issue 5.5 million shares of common stock.

Price to manage BGE's 401(k)

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has selected T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. to manage the utility's 401(k) retirement investment plan, the companies announced this week. The plan has more than $400 million in assets and 9,500 participants.

$30.5 million Army pact to Martin

Martin Marietta Corp. said yesterday that it signed a $30.5 million contract with the Army to prepare for production of the Longbow missile.

Westinghouse Electric Corp. is its joint venture partner in the contract. Bethesda-based Martin said the contract award follows $31 million initial funding deal for the Longbow's fire control radar.

Philip Morris earnings soar

Fueled by strong gains in its tobacco operations, the Philip Morris Cos. reported soaring fourth-quarter earnings yesterday.

Net income rose sharply to $1.09 billion, or $1.27 a share, from $339 million, or 38 cents a share, for the last quarter of 1993.

Northwest traffic from BWI up

Northwest Airlines said yesterday that the number of passengers flying the carrier from Baltimore-Washington International Airport increased 39 percent in December compared with a year earlier. Northwest has eight flights a day from BWI.

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