Business Digest

October 26, 2007

Maryland : Earnings

Micros Systems profit rises 41%

Micros Systems Inc., which makes technology for the retail and hospitality industries, markedly increased profit and revenue in its fiscal first quarter, ending Sept. 30. Income was $21.3 million, or 51 cents per share, a 41 percent increase over income of $15.1 million, or 37 cents per share, reported during the corresponding quarter of 2006. Revenue rose to $216.5 million, a 24.6 percent increase over last year's revenue of $173.7 million.

Tricia Bishop

Biotechnology

Novavax, Allergan agree on Estrasorb

Novavax Inc. of Rockville said yesterday that it has reached agreement with Allergan Inc. for Novavax to stop producing Estrasorb, an estrogen lotion. Novavax developed Estrasorb and licensed it about two years ago to Esprit Pharma, which distributes and markets the product. Allergan recently acquired Esprit. Len Stigliano, vice president and chief financial officer, said Estrasorb was "a cash drain" for Novavax, which wanted to concentrate on vaccine development. .

M. William Salganik

Osiris testing stem cell drug

Osiris Therapeutics Inc. is testing its lead adult stem cell drug on yet another disease, the Columbia company announced yesterday. This time Prochymal, made from the bone marrow of adult volunteers, will be used in mid-stage clinical trials as a treatment for type 1 diabetes. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has provided $4 million in funding for the project. The drug is also being tested in trials as a treatment for Crohn's, an inflammatory bowel disease, and Graft versus Host disease, a life-threatening immune system reaction associated with bone marrow transplants.

Tricia Bishop

Government

Community Health gets federal grant

The Community Health Integrated Partnership, a statewide network of health centers serving mostly uninsured patients, will receive a $1.4 million federal grant to develop an electronic health record system at 36 clinic sites. Dr. Elizabeth Duke, administrator of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, is scheduled to present a check today at a Total Health Care center in West Baltimore. Salliann Alborn, chief executive of CHIP, said the record system would help maintain comprehensive records, for patients who are treated by several doctors for different conditions, often at different clinic sites.

M. William Salganik

Nation

: Automakers

Ford-UAW alignment on job cuts reported

Ford Motor Co. and the United Auto Workers have agreed in principle on the company's wish to further shrink its U.S. hourly work force as contract negotiations begin, according to a person briefed on the talks. Industry analysts say agreement on the issue means Ford could close more factories beyond the 16 that it said would be shuttered under a restructuring plan announced last year.

Media

U.S. closes probe of Hearst-MediaNews

The Justice Department said yesterday that it closed an antitrust investigation into a $317 million deal between publishers Hearst Corp. and MediaNews Group Inc. The deal, which gives Hearst a 31 percent stake in MediaNews newspapers outside the San Francisco Bay Area, closed on Oct. 19.

Tribune selling 2 Conn. papers

Tribune Co. is selling two newspapers in southern Connecticut to Hearst Corp. for $62.4 million, the media conglomerate said yesterday, five months after it was forced to scrap their planned sale to Gannett Co. Inc. The Tribune Co. said The Advocate of Stamford and the Greenwich Time, the two smallest of its 11 newspapers, will be managed by MediaNews Group Inc. under a joint venture agreement with Hearst. Connecticut's attorney general said an investigation had begun to determine if the sale violates antitrust laws.

Labor

Amtrak workers reject arbitration

Amtrak workers who have been without a labor contract for seven years have rejected arbitration in their long-running battle, starting a countdown toward what would be the first-ever strike against the nation's passenger railroad. A strike, which could not occur until early next year, would also disrupt commuter railroads that operate trains on Amtrak tracks and rely on Amtrak dispatchers.

Acquisitions

BEA Systems demands $21 a share

Business software maker BEA Systems Inc. put itself on the auction block yesterday, demanding at least $21 per share in an effort to prod rival Oracle Corp. into raising its current bid by $1.5 billion.

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

Nation : Earnings

Comcast profit falls 54% to $560 million

Comcast Corp., the nation's biggest cable TV systems operator, said yesterday that its third-quarter profit fell 54 percent and new customer additions slowed amid increasing competition from phone and satellite TV companies. Comcast earned $560 million, or 18 cents per share, in the three months that ended Sept. 30 compared with $1.22 billion, or 38 cents a share, in the corresponding quarter a year ago. Revenue rose by 21 percent to $7.78 billion from $6.43 billion a year ago.

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