Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

February 05, 2003

In the Region

AT&T to close Hunt Valley site, cut 135 jobs

AT&T Corp. will cut 135 jobs when it closes a Hunt Valley facility in companywide cost-cutting efforts.

The facility is similar to a call center; it handles customer requests for starting, changing or disconnecting services, and billing disputes.

A spokesman said the center is expected to close late next month or in early April. All 135 jobs will be eliminated, though employees might be eligible for jobs elsewhere in the company.

Former controller pleads not guilty in fraud case

Beverly Baker, the former controller of now-defunct Network Technologies Group Inc., pleaded not guilty yesterday to bank, mail and wire fraud charges in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Baker, 51, faces 10 counts, each of which carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

NTG was a Baltimore telecommunications company that folded last summer amid an accounting scheme involving mis-booked invoices. Last month, Baker and three other top officers at the company were indicted and charged with defrauding the company's lender, Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co., and two of its investors - Abell Venture Fund of Baltimore and Smith Whiley & Co., a Connecticut investment company.

Baker's trial is set for April.

Rite Aid lowers goals for stores' sales growth

Rite Aid Corp., the country's third-largest drugstore chain, lowered its sales view for the current quarter yesterday because of trends in its stores.

Rite Aid said it now expects same-store sales to increase 4.75 percent to 5.75 percent for its fiscal fourth quarter, ending March 1. That's down from a growth forecast of 6 percent to 7 percent given Dec. 19.

Despite the lowered same-store sales outlook, Rite Aid reaffirmed its targets for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $160 million to $170 million for the fourth quarter and $605 million to $615 million for fiscal 2003.

Bay National Corp. reports loss of $150,000 for 4Q

Bay National Corp. reported a net loss yesterday of $150,000 for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, a 64-percent decrease from the loss of $417,000 for the comparable period in 2001.

Without a $114,000 provision for credit losses required by federal banking regulations, the Lutherville bank's net loss for the fourth quarter of 2002 would have been only $36,000. Its net loss per share on a fully diluted basis for the fourth quarter was 12 cents, a 65 percent drop from the fully diluted net loss of 34 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2001.

For all of 2002, Bay National had a net loss of $992,000, a 38-percent decline from the net loss of $1.6 million the bank incurred for 2001. Total deposits at the end of 2002 stood at $76.1 million, an increase of 99 percent from the $38.1 million reported at the conclusion of 2001.

Igen International Inc. says revenue narrowed 3Q loss

Igen International Inc. said yesterday that its fiscal third-quarter loss narrowed as revenue increased 56 percent.

The Gaithersburg maker of technology used in medical diagnostics said it lost $4.3 million, or 18 cents per share, in the quarter which ended Dec. 31. That compares with a net loss of $9.2 million, or 48 cents per common share, for the same period last year.

CSX president, Ward, elected chairman, CEO

Baltimore native Michael J. Ward, president of CSX Corp., has been elected chairman and chief executive of the Richmond, Va.-based rail company.

Ward, who has been with CSX for 25 years, replaces John W. Snow, who was confirmed this week by the U.S. Senate as treasury secretary.

Workers use Net more for work than goofing off

Workers use the Internet more for doing work from home than for doing personal business at work, according to the 2002 National Technology Readiness Survey released yesterday.

The study, sponsored by the Center for e-Service at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and by Rockbridge Associates Inc., found that people who can access the Internet from both work and home spent 3.7 hours per week, on average, using the Web for personal reasons from work. But they spent an average of 5.9 hours per week using the Internet to do work from home.

The study also found that the number of adult Internet users who paid credit card bills online rose to 20 percent in 2002 from 15 percent in 2001. The number of those who paid other bills online rose to 23 percent 2002 from 16 percent in 2001.

ToadNet of Severna Park buys rival ISP, Radicus

Internet service provider ToadNet Inc. said yesterday it bought rival Radicus Internet LLC for an undisclosed amount.

ToadNet officials said the deal allows the Severna Park company to further expand into the mid-Atlantic region.

Baltimore-based Radicus provides Internet service to more than 1,300 business and residential customers. ToadNet has more than 29,000 business and residential customers in the mid-Atlantic region, with a concentration of customers in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

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