Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 02, 2007

Nation: Banking

Bank of America boosts overdraft fee

For the third time in 20 months, Bank of America Corp. has increased the fees it charges customers who overdraw accounts or bounce checks. The fee for each overdraft or returned item during the first day an account is overdrawn was increased from $19 to $20, and the fee for each overdraft or returned item on subsequent days was set at $35. The Feb. 16 change eliminated the middle tier in the bank's overdraft fee structure. Under Bank of America's policy, the maximum number of overdraft fees that can be charged per day is five.

Safety

Lenovo recalls computer batteries

Lenovo Inc. recalled about 100,000 laptop computer batteries yesterday, warning that they could overheat and cause a fire. The battery recall was the second for the company in the past six months and comes as the world's No. 3 computer maker tries to gain ground on its better-known competitors. The latest recall involves batteries made by Japan's Sanyo Electric Co. and follows four reports of overheating. In one case, a user suffered minor eye irritation, the company said. The Chinese PC maker said consumers should stop using the recalled products immediately.

Courts

Ex-McAfee lawyer pleads not guilty

McAfee Inc.'s former top lawyer pleaded not guilty yesterday in federal court to charges of stock options tampering in an alleged attempt to enrich himself at the expense of the computer security software maker's shareholders. A federal grand jury indicted Kent Roberts, 50, on Tuesday, nine months after McAfee fired him as its general counsel for improper handling of stock options issued in 2000 when the company was still known as Network Associates. The indictment includes seven criminal counts of fraud alleging Roberts manipulated the values of his stock options to increase his potential windfall from the awards and then falsified records to cover up his misconduct.

Earnings

Berkshire Hathaway profit down 30.2%

Warren E. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. recorded a drop in fourth-quarter profit. During the quarter, which ended Dec. 31, Berkshire made $3.58 billion, or $2,323 per share. That is down 30.2 percent from the year-ago period when Berkshire made $5.13 billion, or $3,330 per share, Berkshire reported yesterday.

Dell net income falls sharply

Dell Inc. fiscal fourth-quarter profit plunged in what the computer maker called a preliminary earnings report due to a federal probe of the company's finances. Dell said it earned $673 million, or 30 cents per share in the quarter ended Feb. 2, compared with $1.01 billion, or 43 cents per share a year earlier.

State Farm net up 65% for 2006

State Farm Insurance said yesterday that profit climbed 65 percent in 2006 as claims dipped amid a relatively tranquil year for hurricanes and other natural disasters. The insurer posted earnings of $5.3 billion, up from $3.2 billion the year before when payouts soared because of storms.

This column was compiled from dispatches by the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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