Business Digest


October 24, 2003

In the Region

Harbor Bank earnings surged 55% in quarter

Harbor Bank of Maryland reported yesterday a 55 percent increase in third-quarter net income as a result of strong loan growth.

The bank said it had net income of $500,000 in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $322,000 posted for last year's third quarter. The bank, which has deposits of $194.4 million, said its loan business grew 31 percent to $146.9 million.

For the first nine months, the bank had net income of $1.3 million, up 60 percent from earnings of $832,000 in the first three quarters of 2002. Earnings per share for the nine-month period were $1.72, up 18.9 percent from $1.27 per share in the 2002 period.

MedImmune losses cut by more than 50%

Third-quarter losses shrank for MedImmune, Inc. on increased sales, and the Gaithersburg drug maker said it is too early to tell whether it will hit sales targets for its new inhaled flu vaccine, FluMist.

MedImmune posted a net loss of $16 million, or 6 cents per share, in the third quarter, less than half the $36 million, or 14 cents per share, it lost in the corresponding period of 2002. Revenue jumped 34 percent to $99 million from $74 million last year. Much of that was driven by sales from MedImmune's respiratory infection vaccine for toddlers, but included $17 million in early revenue for FluMist, MedImmune's new flu vaccine that it is co-marketing with Wyeth.

The company expects to sell 2.5 million to 4 million doses of the drug this season, distributing it through doctors and pharmacies. MedImmune reconfirmed its sales target of $120 million to $140 million in revenue for FluMist this season.

GP Strategies adds to stake in GSE Systems

New York-based GP Strategies Corp. has purchased 3,426,699 shares of GSE Systems Inc. common stock and now owns 58 percent of the Columbia provider of real-time simulation, homeland security and engineering services for the energy, process and military industries, both companies said yesterday.

GP Strategies, a provider of training, e-Learning solutions, management consulting and engineering services, bought the stock from ManTech International Corp. GP Strategies originally owned 22 percent of GSE. The purchase will expand both companies' expertise in power plant operator training, power plant performance improvement and homeland security related products and services.

In addition, GSE said its board of directors voted to expand its membership to eleven by adding John Moran, GP Strategies' vice president; Douglas Sharp, president of subsidiary General Physics Corp.; and Andrea Kantor, vice president and general counsel of GP Strategies. Shares of GSE stock remained unchanged to close at $1.88.


U.S. moves to block First Data from buying Concord EFS

The Justice Department filed suit yesterday to block the $7.3 billion acquisition of Concord EFS Inc. by First Data Corp., contending that the deal would substantially reduce competition in the electronic financial transaction industry.

Concord and First Data own two of the major personal identification number networks - STAR and NYCE, respectively - that allow consumers to use debit cards at banks, stores and other businesses.

First Data, based in Greenwood Village, Colo., and Memphis, Tenn.-based Concord announced a stock deal in April. The merger, officials estimated, would result in a single company that would generate $10 billion in annual revenue and employ 31,000 people worldwide.

Honda and Toyota lead mileage report

Honda and Toyota are producing the vehicles with the highest fuel economy, including gas-electric hybrids that get up to 60 miles per gallon in city traffic, according to a report released yesterday.

The report by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy compares the fuel economy of 2004 vehicles based on information from automakers. The vehicle with the lowest fuel economy, the Lamborghini L-147, got 9 mpg.

The two-seat Honda Insight was rated highest, at 60 mpg in the city. The report listed the Toyota Prius second, at 59 mpg, but Toyota Motor Co. said yesterday that the Prius, a mid-size sedan, also gets 60 mpg. Among large cars, the Chevrolet Malibu had the highest fuel economy at 22 mpg.

Ticketmaster to close customer service center

Ticketmaster, a giant seller of sports and concert tickets, will close its customer service center in Virginia Beach, Va., eliminating 573 jobs as increasing online sales reduce the need for telephone personnel.

The West Hollywood, Calif., company plans to shut down the center Dec. 18, according to a workplace-closing noticed filed with state officials.

Electronic commerce "is having a contracting effect on call center employment nationally" at operations that take customer orders, said John H. Boyd, president of the consulting business Boyd Co. Inc. of Princeton, N.J. Last year, online sales accounted for 41 percent of Ticketmaster's ticketing business, according to InterActiveCorp's 2002 annual report.

Johnson resigns as CEO of Saks Fifth Avenue

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