Business Digest


February 03, 2005

In The Region

Digene's profit falls 66% because of higher tax bill

Shares of Digene Corp., the maker of the only FDA-approved medical test for the virus that causes cervical cancer, fell nearly 1 percent yesterday, losing 25 cents to $26.45, after its quarterly profit dropped 66 percent to $304,000 from $948,000 because of a higher tax bill.

Net income for its fiscal second quarter, which ended Dec. 31, was a penny a share, the Gaithersburg company said. Revenue climbed 28 percent to $27 million.

Digene's profit before income taxes nearly tripled to $2.9 million from $1.1 million a year earlier. Its provision for income taxes rose to $2.6 million from $119,000 last year.

MuniMae stock offering raises $68.3 million

Municipal Mortgage & Equity LLC, the real estate financier known as MuniMae, raised $68.3 million with a stock offering.

The offering of about 2.6 million shares at $26.51 a share is expected to close Tuesday. If the underwriters Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., RBC Capital Markets and Banc of America Securities LLC exercise their option to purchase an additional 386,250 shares, the proceeds will be $78.5 million.

The Baltimore company said yesterday that the money will be used to finance future investments and pay debt, and for other purposes.

Legg guru William Miller `very bullish' on market

U.S. stocks are inexpensive because investors are underestimating earnings increases, said William H. Miller III, the investment guru whose Legg Mason Value Trust has beaten the Standard & Poor's 500 index for a record 14 consecutive years.

"I am very bullish on the U.S. market," Miller said yesterday at a conference organized by Legg Mason Inc. in London. "I have rarely seen a case where economic potential was so good and people's psychology is so skeptical."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index is about 15 percent below what its price should be, Miller said. His picks for the best "value companies" are financial firms such as Citigroup Inc., the world's biggest financial firm, and St. Paul Travelers Cos., an insurer formed last year by a merger. His $16.8 billion fund owns both stocks.

Lockheed's CEO awarded $2.3 million bonus for 2004

Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda said it gave Chief Executive Officer Robert J. Stevens a $2.3 million bonus last year, his first as head of the company.

Stevens, who became chief executive Aug. 5, received a salary of $1.21 million last year, the world's biggest defense contractor said in a regulatory filing. The statement only provided the base salary and bonus and didn't provide other elements of his compensation.

Lockheed's sales rose 12 percent to $35.5 billion last year, and net income rose 20 percent to $1.26 billion.

Parts of Montgomery to get Verizon's fast Web service

Verizon Communications Inc. said yesterday that it would offer a new ultra-high-speed Internet service to consumers in portions of Montgomery County and parts of 11 other states.

The "Verizon FiOS" service will be carried over Verizon's new fiber-to-the-premises network, which in some places may carry cable-television service starting this year.

Verizon said the new service is being offered to many of its customers in Chevy Chase View, Garrett Park, Glenmont, Kensington and Wheaton. The new fiber network being built in Maryland will cover parts of Bethesda, Burtonsville, Silver Spring and other Montgomery County communities. Verizon is building similar networks in Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Florida and California.

USA Swimming hires Baltimore PR firm

USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States, has chosen Warschawski Public Relations of Baltimore to handle its media relations. Terms were not disclosed.

The Colorado Springs, Colo., organization has more than 300,000 members and sanctions more than 7,000 events a year. USA Swimming formulates the policies and procedures for the sport and holds national championships.


GE joins Halliburton in winding down business in Iran

General Electric Co., which has been accused of collecting "blood money" by doing business in Iran, will stop accepting any new orders for business in the country, company officials said yesterday.

The move by the world's largest company by market value comes just days after another conglomerate, Halliburton Co., said it would wind down its operations in Iran.

Dan Katz, chief counsel to U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, said the moves may signal an imminent change in U.S. policy that has allowed foreign subsidiaries of American companies to do business in Iran.

Ex-Tyco chairman says loans are news to him

A retired chairman of the board of Tyco International Ltd. testified yesterday that the company's financial monitors never told him about millions of dollars in forgiven loans and bonuses for Tyco's two top executives.

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