Business Digest


February 08, 2005

In The Region

Human Genome's losses widen for quarter and year

Human Genome Sciences Inc., a Rockville drug development company, reported a drop in fourth-quarter and annual revenues as well as a loss for both the quarter and the year yesterday.

For the fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31, revenue fell to $800,000 from $4.6 million a year earlier. Annual sales dropped 54 percent to $3.8 million from $8.2 million in 2003. The net loss for the quarter increased nearly a third to $66.7 million - or 51 cents per share - from $48.9 million, or 38 cents per share, a year ago. The year's net loss increased as well, to $242.9 million - or $1.87 per share - from a loss of $185.3 million, or $1.44 per share, in 2003.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected a loss of $1.73 per share for the year.

The company said rising development expenses contributed to the greater loss, which was partially offset by a decrease in "general and administrative expenses." Shares of Human Genome Sciences fell 20 cents yesterday to close at $12.48 on the Nasdaq stock market.


Commentator sued over alleged pay to promote company

Regulators filed criminal and civil charges yesterday against a financial commentator who was paid more than $1 million in cash and stock to hype shares of a company during appearances on CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg TV.

The commentator, Courtney D. Smith, helped "artificially inflate" GenesisIntermedia Inc.'s stock after the California marketing company went public in 1999, the Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in a civil lawsuit.

Authorities claim he was secretly paid about $95,000 in cash and received about $1 million of GenesisIntermedia's shares. The SEC is seeking a court order that would fine Smith and force him to return all his allegedly ill-gotten gains, with interest. If convicted on the nine-count criminal indictment, he could face up to 45 years in federal prison.

Consumer borrowing rose $3.1 billion in Dec.

U.S. consumer borrowing increased less than expected in December after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates five times in the last half of 2004.

Borrowing through charge cards, car loans and other nonmortgage debt rose by $3.1 billion to $2.104 trillion, from a revised gain of $2 billion in November that was first reported as a decline, the Fed said yesterday in Washington.

Borrowing slowed as the Fed raised the federal funds target rate to 2.25 percent in December from 1 percent in June to stem inflation. The U.S. central bank raised rates another quarter point this month and said further increases may come at a "measured" pace.

SEC backs Halliburton on excluding resolution

The staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission sided with Halliburton Co. yesterday and said that the company could exclude an annual-meeting resolution that would have given shareholders more say in nominating directors.

If it had been permitted by the SEC, the pension-funds- backed proposal would have set an important precedent.

The proposal was submitted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, the New York City Employees' Retirement System and the New York City Teachers' Retirement System.

IBM, Sony, Toshiba unveil 4-gigahertz chip

International Business Machines Corp., the world's largest computer maker, and Japan's Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. released yesterday the details of a new chip that's faster than Intel Corp.'s personal-computer processors and seeks to capture sales in the home entertainment market.

The Cell chip is to go into production this year. It has a clock speed of 4 gigahertz, or 4 billion cycles per second, the three companies said in a news conference at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. Computer-chip makers use the number of cycles their chips are capable of, or clock speed, as a proxy for performance.

"This processor is dedicated to gaming and multimedia applications," said Masakazu Suzuoki, Sony's head of microprocessor development. "In some applications, in digital home entertainment, this processor has a great advantage."

Independence Air adds service to West Coast

Fledgling low-fare airline Independence Air announced a major expansion of its route network yesterday, adding a series of West Coast destinations that executives hope will help fill their half-empty planes.

The expansion comes despite unanswered questions about the financial health of the McLean, Va.-based airline. Its parent company, FLYi Inc., had previously warned that airplane lease payments due last month might force a bankruptcy filing.

January has come and gone, and the airline never filed for bankruptcy, but airline officials would not comment on the status of those lease payments, except to say that restructuring efforts are continuing.

Gregg for extending tax cut on dividends, capital gains

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