Business Digest


September 24, 2004

In the Region

Manugistics reports 14% dip in revenue, net loss of $17 million

Manugistics Group Inc., a Rockville supply-chain software developer hit hard by the dot-com crash, again reported reduced revenues and a net loss yesterday in announcing its second-quarter fiscal results.

Revenue for the quarter that ended Aug. 31 was $51.3 million, 14 percent less than in the quarter last year. Software revenue was $11.1 million, 38 percent less than in the prior year's quarter. Support revenue was up to $21.3 million from $21.1 million last year.

The second-quarter net loss was $17.1 million, or 21 cents per basic and diluted share, compared with losses of $8 million and 11 cents per share last year.

Last month, Manugistics fired its president, Jeremy P. Coote, after bringing in a turnaround specialist to help resurrect the ailing company.

WebMD says accounting missteps won't hurt ViPS

An admission of accounting improprieties and naming of a new chief executive yesterday at WebMD Corp. should have no effect on ViPS, the Towson health software firm recently acquired by WebMD, Jennifer Meyer, a WebMD spokeswoman, said yesterday.

In a deal that closed last month, New Jersey-based WebMD bought ViPS for $160 million. Meyer said ViPS is continuing to operate as before, with no changes for its nearly 400 employees.

WebMD said yesterday that a company it owns, Medical Manager, had inflated revenue before WebMD bought it in 2000. WebMD said it was being investigated by the U.S. attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and that it thinks the investigation is related to Medical Manager financial reporting.

Md. SUV registrations jumped 59% in 5 years

Marylanders registered 59 percent more sport utility vehicles in 2002 than they did in 1997, according to figures released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 1997, 290,800 SUVs were registered, the bureau's 2002 study of vehicle inventory and use said. By 2002, 463,300 Marylanders registered SUVs.

Maryland lagged behind other states in growth of the popular vehicles. During the same period, Arkansas had a 74 percent jump in SUV registration. West Virginia had an 83 percent rise.

MuniMae restates results for two quarters this year

Municipal Mortgage & Equity LLC, better-known as MuniMae, restated yesterday its financial results for the first two quarters of this year.

The restatements were made after the Baltimore-based financial services company discovered $3 million in unrecorded deferred compensation. For the quarter that ended March 31, its net profit of $1.2 million, or 4 cents per share, became a net loss of $1.3 million, or 4 cents per share. For the six months that ended June 30, the net profit of $12.4 million, or 37 cents per share, was reduced to $9.9 million, or 29 cents per share.

MuniMae also said it is boosting its quarterly dividend to 46.75 cents a share.

2 city businesses targets of EEOC bias suits

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said yesterday that it has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against one Baltimore business and a racial bias suit against another.

The age-discrimination suit was filed against BlueHippo Funding LLC, which finances electronics for people with poor credit ratings. The suit alleges that BlueHippo fired three workers, one older than 40 and two older than 50, because of their ages. The company's general counsel denied the allegations.

The EEOC also sued Vita Inc., which operates as Aldo's Ristorante Italiano in Little Italy. The suit alleges that Aldo's fired a server who complained of overhearing a conversation in which a racial slur was used. Alessandro Vitale, co-owner of Aldo's, said he does not recall that conversation.

Columbia REIT expects $50 million net from stock

Corporate Office Properties Trust expects to net $50.1 million from the sale of 2 million common shares, saying yesterday that it priced its follow-on stock offering at $25.25 a share.

The Columbia-based real estate investment trust said it intends to use the capital to repay a revolving-credit-line balance. An additional 300,000 shares could be sold under an over-allotment provision.


Baker gets OK for loans to operate during bankruptcy

Interstate Bakeries Corp., the nation's largest wholesale baker, got interim court approval yesterday for $200 million in post-bankruptcy financing, allowing it to continue operating while it seeks to restructure its business.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jerry Venters approved the loans, which will be made by a group led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Interstate sought Chapter 11 protection Wednesday in bankruptcy court in Kansas City, Mo., listing assets of $1.626 billion and liabilities of $1.321 billion.

Case against ink expert called a grudge by defense

The perjury case against a Secret Service ink expert who testified against Martha Stewart amounts to a grudge held against the witness by a woman who worked for him, a defense lawyer said yesterday.

In opening statements in the trial of Larry Stewart, lawyer Judith Wheat said the woman, Susan Fortunato, was upset that prosecutors chose him, not her, to testify as an expert witness at the celebrity homemaker's trial.

Larry Stewart, who is not related to Martha Stewart, is accused of exaggerating his role in ink testing of a stock worksheet that was a key piece of evidence in the trial of the entrepreneur and her former stockbroker, Peter Bacanovic.

The trial's first day centered on personal dynamics between Larry Stewart and Fortunato, who in May told federal prosecutors that she believed he had lied during his testimony in the Martha Stewart trial. She testified that she had rebuffed Larry Stewart in the early 1990s when he asked her to dance with him at a conference they attended.

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

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