Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

April 26, 2005

In The Region

AmeriDebt founder to appeal decision to freeze his assets

AmeriDebt founder Andris Pukke plans to appeal a U.S. District Court's decision last week to freeze his assets, according to court documents.

Pending the appeal, Pukke also asked the district court in Greenbelt last week to not require that he give a full accounting of his assets under oath, saying it violates his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Pukke faces a "real and significant threat of criminal prosecution," his lawyers said in a court document. They noted that the Internal Revenue Service is investigating nonprofit credit counselors and may refer some cases for criminal prosecution.

These filings are part of the ongoing case with the Federal Trade Commission, which in 2003 sued Pukke and AmeriDebt, claiming the nonprofit counseling agency charged high, hidden fees and channeled the money to a for-profit operation owned by Pukke.

Angelina's restaurant sells for $388,500 at auction

Angelina's, a Northeast Baltimore restaurant known for its crab cakes, sold at auction to an undisclosed buyer yesterday for $388,500, according to Alex Cooper Auctioneers.

The buyer is a frequent participant at the auction house and plans to keep the Italian and seafood restaurant functioning as is, said Paul Cooper, vice president of the auction house.

The sale includes the land, building, liquor license and recently remodeled restaurant at 7153 Harford Road.

Human Genome reports 1Q loss of $59.6 million

Human Genome Sciences Inc. of Rockville yesterday reported a net loss of $59.6 million for the first quarter ended March 31, up about 7.6 percent from a net loss of $55.4 million for the comparable quarter in 2004. The net loss was 46 cents per share, up from a loss of 43 cents per share a year ago, according to the company's financial report.

Human Genome attributed the bigger loss mostly to a decrease in interest income and slightly more spending on research and development. The company also had $3.7 million in restructuring charges a year ago, an amount equal to about 3 cents per share. Adjusting for that charge, the company said it would have incurred a net loss of 40 cents per share for the first quarter of last year and that its net loss per share actually grew 15 percent to 46 cents for this year's first three months.

Human Genome reported revenue of $1.1 million for the first quarter of this year, a decline of 31 percent from revenue of $1.6 million for the first quarter last year. The company's stock declined 8 cents per share to close at $10.47 yesterday.

Opnet notes compliance law in unexpected losses

Opnet Technologies Inc., a Bethesda-based software company, said it expects a small loss for the quarter ended in March, instead of the slight profit it had forecast, because of unexpectedly high costs of complying with the federal Sarbanes-Oxley law.

The law, adopted after the WorldCom and Enron accounting scandals, requires companies to demonstrate that they have effective internal controls.

Opnet said compliance costs during the most-recent quarter were about $1.8 million, twice what it expected. It said it expects to report a quarterly loss of 2 cents to 4 cents a share, rather than to break even at a 3-cents-per-share profit - despite record revenue in the range of $17 million to $17.2 million.

Columbia Bancorp reports 28.4% increase in profit

Columbia Bancorp, the parent company of Columbia Bank, reported a 28.4 percent year-over-year increase in first-quarter net income yesterday as real estate development and commercial lending increased.

The bank had net income of $3.8 million, or 53 cents per share, for the quarter ended March 31, compared with $3 million, or 40 cents per share, in the first quarter of last year.

Total assets climbed to $1.24 billion, representing a 14.5 percent increase from a year ago. The bank has 24 branches in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

Solo Cup sells Hampstead facility for $37.5 million

Solo Cup Co.'s 1-million- square-foot distribution center in Hampstead has been purchased for $37.5 million by a Morristown, N.J., real estate investment fund.

A spokesman for The Hampshire Companies, which manages the Hampshire Partners Fund VI with assets of more than $1 billion, said yesterday that the purchase will not affect Solo Cup's long-term lease for the facility. The fund also owns a Solo Cup distribution center in North Andover, Mass.

Solo Cup, based in Highland Park, Ill., produces cups and paper plates at its manufacturing plant in Owings Mills and then ships them to Hampstead for distribution to buyers. The property was constructed in 2000 for Sweetheart Cup Co., whose parent company, SF Holdings, was purchased by Solo Cup in a deal that closed early last year. Solo Cup has 1,405 employees at its Owings Mills facility and Hampstead distribution center.

Elsewhere

Microsoft Corp. hires International Paper official as CFO

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