Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 09, 2004

In The Region

Rite Aid reports fourth-quarter profit of $53.3 million

Rite Aid Corp. reported a fourth-quarter profit and finished its first profitable year since an accounting scandal forced the deeply indebted company to restate its results.

The nation's third-largest drugstore chain behind Walgreen Co. and CVS Corp. reported yesterday its earnings available to common shareholders came to $53.3 million, or 9 cents per share, for the fiscal quarter that ended Feb. 28. The results beat analysts' estimates by a penny a share.

In the same quarter a year earlier, the company said, it lost $8.3 million, or 2 cents a share, after costs for preferred stock dividends.

Revenue for the latest quarter was $4.4 billion, compared with $4.14 billion last year. Sales in stores that were open at least a year increased 6.4 percent, the company said.

Citizens National wins OK to buy Fidelity Bank branch

Citizens National Bank of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., has won regulatory approval to acquire The Fidelity Bank's branch in Hancock. It's Citizens National's first foray outside West Virginia.

Fidelity is a subsidiary of Baltimore-based Mercantile Bankshares. Details of the deal, which is expected to be completed in mid-June, were not released.

Citizens National said the acquisition of the Maryland branch bank will boost its assets to more than $216 million. It has branch offices in Berkeley Springs, Hedgesville and Martinsburg, and plans to open another in Spring Mills.

Constellation NewEnergy is given Perdue contract

Constellation NewEnergy, the energy supply subsidiary of Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group, has been awarded a contract to supply electricity to Perdue Farms' Maryland poultry processing facilities. The amount was not disclosed.

Privately owned Perdue had annual sales of more than $2.7 billion last year and is one of the largest poultry producers in the United States. It sells food products in more than 50 countries.

Elsewhere

Boeing is seeking buyer for operations in Kansas, Oklahoma

Boeing Co. is looking for a buyer for its commercial aircraft and support operations in Wichita, Kan., and Oklahoma, according to an internal memo obtained yesterday by The Associated Press.

"We've now reached the point where the next logical step is to see whether there is market interest in these operations and, if so, how they might be valued," four Boeing executives wrote in the April 8 memo to all employees in Wichita, and Tulsa and McAlester, Okla.

The operations could fetch "a couple of billion" dollars, according to aerospace analyst Paul Nisbet, of JSA Research.

Gasoline prices expected to rise by a nickel a gallon

Gasoline prices will rise another nickel a gallon nationwide before the end of June but return to current levels before fall, the government said yesterday, warning of possible higher price spikes in the Northeast and on the West Coast.

The Energy Department said in its annual summer fuels report that prices over the April-September period are expected to average $1.76 a gallon nationwide.

New nominee picked for manufacturing czar

The Bush administration tapped a California businessman yesterday to become its manufacturing czar after the first pick withdrew his nomination over criticisms his company cut U.S. jobs and shifted work to China.

Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans said the administration would nominate Al Frink as assistant commerce secretary of manufacturing and services. Frink is a Hispanic businessman in Orange County, Calif.

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

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