Business Digest


April 23, 2004

In the Region

Marriott profit fell in first quarter, still tops forecasts

Marriott International said yesterday that its first-quarter earnings dipped slightly, but the hotel operator exceeded Wall Street's predictions and raised its outlook for this year on an expected boost in travel.

The Bethesda-based company reported first-quarter income of $114 million, or 47 cents per share, compared with $116 million, or 48 cents per share, for the first quarter of last year.

Marriott's earnings from continuing operations, which excludes a one-time, 12-cents-a-share gain last year, were 47 cents per share, up from 36 cents a share last year. Analysts had predicted that Marriott would earn 42 cents per share.

The company also said its expects earnings of $2.24 to $2.34 a share, based on an expected 25 percent increase in income from its lodging business for the year. Wall Street expected Marriott to report $2.14.

1020-1030 N. Charles sold for $3.5 million

Manekin LLC has negotiated the sale of 1020-1030 N. Charles St., in Baltimore's Mount Vernon community, for $3.5 million to a partnership controlled by neurosurgeon Agha Khan.

Khan plans to lease space in the 48,000-square-foot building to a radiology practice, clinical demonstration labs and other offices.

The structure, built at the turn of the 20th century, previously housed the company that developed the antiseptic Mercurochrome in 1919. The building was renovated in the 1990s for advertising tenant Trahan Burden & Charles to feature a marbled lobby, executive offices, administrative floors and conference areas. TBC occupied the building until September.

Sylvan operating income $3.6 million in 1st quarter

Baltimore-based Sylvan Learning Systems Inc. yesterday reported first-quarter operating income of $3.6 million, compared with a loss of $1.7 million posted for last year's first quarter.

The international higher-education provider said yesterday that its revenue increased 39 percent to $132.2 million, up from $95.3 million a year earlier.

Sylvan also said yesterday that it has opened a Les Roches hotel management training school in Shanghai in a partnership with a Chinese hospitality and tourism group.


NASD proposes increased sales data on corporate bonds

The National Association of Securities Dealers plans to increase corporate bond sales data through its reporting system known as Trace, NASD said yesterday.

The plan, to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, would bring investors immediate sale information on almost all transactions. About 1 percent of transactions would be distributed on a delayed basis, NASD said.

NASD began disseminating data through Trace on July 1, 2002, to increase transparency in the corporate bond market. Trace provides transaction information on approximately 4,600 bonds representing 68 percent of investment-grade market volume. Under the new proposal, the system would disseminate data on more than 23,000 individual bonds, NASD said.

Pfizer shareholders reject pricing initiative

Shareholders of Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug maker, yesterday rejected a proposal supported by Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty that would have required the company to study ways to moderate drug price increases.

About 95 percent of stockholders rejected the plan that would have forced Pfizer to report on how it can keep price increases for the Lipitor cholesterol medicine, Viagra impotence pill and other drugs, below the inflation rate.

The rejection occurred at Pfizer's annual meeting in Clayton, Mo., near St. Louis.

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

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