In the Region F&M Bancorp earns record profit of $5.1...

BUSINESS DIGEST

October 17, 2001

In the Region

F&M Bancorp earns record profit of $5.1 million Lower interest rates and income from mortgage banking operations boosted F&M Bancorp's profit to a record $5.51 million in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30, the company reported yesterday.

The Frederick banking company earned 50 cents per diluted share in the quarter, up 14 percent from 44 cents per share in the third quarter of 2000. The company also reduced its provision for credit losses to $430,000 in the most recent quarter, compared with $1.2 million a year earlier.

F&M earned $15.7 million, or $1.42 per diluted share, in the first nine months of the year, up 9 percent from a year earlier. Its assets rose 5 percent to $1.9 billion, loans fell 3 percent to $1.2 billion and deposits were up 12 percent to $1.5 billion.

Elsewhere

Microsoft agrees to retract claims it made against Novell Microsoft Corp. said it would not repeat an advertising campaign that questions competitor Novell Inc.'s commitment to support a key piece of software.

It also promised to send a letter to 3,100 Novell customers retracting claims made in the ad, under a deal reached between the software makers yesterday.

Novell, which makes networking software, is suing Microsoft in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City over the ad. Microsoft mailed fake cereal boxes to Novell customers that asked when Novell's premier product, NetWare, would expire. The ad implied that the software would be costly and time-consuming to maintain.

AT&T, British Telecom to halt joint venture

British Telecommunications PLC and AT&T Corp. are shutting down Concert, their money-losing international joint venture created three years ago to serve business customers.

The breakup of the venture will result in the loss of up to 2,300 of Concert's 6,300 jobs and $7 billion in charges, the companies said yesterday.

The dissolution is subject to regulatory approval in the United States, Europe and other jurisdictions, AT&T said in a statement. The breakup is expected to be completed by the middle of 2002.

Fidelity Magellan Fund drops AOL for Wal-Mart

Fidelity Magellan Fund manager Robert Stansky added Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to the top 10 holdings of the biggest actively managed U.S. mutual fund in the third quarter, knocking out AOL Time Warner Inc.

Stansky also cut the information-technology stock holdings of the $71.7-billion fund to 11.1 percent of assets in September, the lowest since Sept. 30, 1996, according to Boston-based Fidelity's monthly Mutual Fund Guide. Magellan owned 260 stocks on Sept. 30, down from 278 on June 30.

Kroger chain to start selling Tupperware today

Tupperware Corp. will start selling its kitchen wares in Kroger-owned stores today, marking the company's second partnership with a retailer after decades of relying only on sales from Tupperware parties.

The stores will buy the inventory, and salespeople and local Tupperware distributors will get commissions based on how much product passes through the checkout counters.

Tupperware began selling its kitchen utensils and plastic storage containers at SuperTarget stores this year.

Citigroup to buy back up to $5 billion in shares

Citigroup Inc., the largest U.S. financial services company, plans to buy back as much as $5 billion in shares in an effort to bolster its stock price.

The stock repurchase plan is equal to about 2 percent of the company's market value of about $251 billion.

This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Reuters.

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