In the Region Legg brokerage dropping coverage of Prime...

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 04, 2001

In the Region

Legg brokerage dropping coverage of Prime Retail

Baltimore brokerage Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. said yesterday that its analysts would drop coverage of Prime Retail Inc., the outlet mall owner.

Legg Mason said Baltimore-based Prime Retail no longer meets the minimum criteria because its total common equity capitalization has dropped below $25 million and the shares consistently trade below 50 cents. Legg Mason already had downgraded its rating on the shares to "underperform" and suggested that shareholders sell.

Prime Retail reported Monday that its funds from operations dropped 47 percent in the fourth quarter to $13.5 million, or 14 cents per diluted share, because of lower mall occupancies, higher interest costs and its tenants' bankruptcies and store closings.

BWI passenger traffic grew by 12.4% in 2000

Passenger volume at Baltimore-Washington International Airport grew the fastest of North America's 30 largest airports last year, according to preliminary statistics released by Airports Council International, an industry trade group.

BWI handled a record 19.6 million passengers in 2000, a 12.4 percent increase over 1999. None of the other top 30 airports in North America posted a double-digit increase, BWI officials said yesterday.

BWI ranks 51st among major airports worldwide in total passengers. Washington's Dulles International Airport ranked 47th, with just under 20 million passengers in 2000, and Reagan Washington National Airport ranked 64th, with 15.7 million passengers. If BWI continues its double-digit growth as expected, the airport could overtake Dulles as the region's busiest airport before year's end.

House OKs bill to extend scholarship eligibility

The House of Delegates passed legislation yesterday that would expand eligibility for the Maryland Science and Technology Scholarship Program to students who begin college within five years of high school graduation.

The bill extends the period in which high school graduates can receive a scholarship from the current two years. It is a top priority of high-technology companies in Maryland. The Senate passed its version March 12.

The House passed the bill 139-1, but with extensive amendments. The chambers must reconcile their differences before final passage.

Roland is named chairman of Vertis marketing firm

The board of directors of Baltimore-based Vertis Inc. named Donald E. Roland as chairman yesterday, the next step in the company's evolution from a holding company to an operating company and in consolidating the executive offices in Baltimore.

Roland, who will remain president and chief executive officer, succeeds Theodore Ammon. Roland became president and chief executive officer in June, after a comparable job at TC Advertising, the firm's retail and newspaper service unit.

Vertis is a $2 billion marketing company that delivers advertising products and services.

Amex to list stock options on Magellan Health

The American Stock Exchange says it will begin trading options next weekon stock of Magellan Health Services Inc., the Columbia-based mental health insurer.

Magellan options previously had been listed on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, but trading there was suspended last year after the Magellan share price dropped below $5, Magellan spokeswoman Erin Somers said.

Magellan stock has traded above $5 a share since Jan. 3. It closed yesterday at $8.50 a share, down 77 cents for the day.

Elsewhere

Postal Service weighs ending mail runs on Saturdays

Battered by slowing business and huge projected losses, the Postal Service said yesterday that it will study cutting back to a five-day schedule that would eliminate mail delivery on Saturdays.

The agency also will examine how much money can be saved by consolidating and closing some postal plants and offices.

With rising costs, postal officials say they face a $2 billion to $3 billion loss this fiscal year. After five years in the black, the post office had a $199 million loss last fiscal year.

The agency's governing board will ask Postal Service management to report their study results within 90 days, said S. David Fineman, the board's vice chairman.

Northrop completes $3.8 billion Litton merger

Northrop Grumman Corp. completed its $3.8 billion merger with Litton Industries Inc. yesterday, bolstering its portfolio of electronics offerings to create what it calls a top-tier global defense industry enterprise.

Northrop Grumman said it received all regulatory approvals and completed the purchase of all tendered shares of Litton common and Series B preferred stock.

The Litton acquisition creates a $15 billion global defense enterprise with 80,000 employees.

MicroStrategy to fire 600, close some offices in Va.

MicroStrategy Inc., whose shares have fallen 96 percent in the past year, said it will fire 600 employees, or a third of its work force, because the software maker's first-quarter loss was wider than expected.

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