Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

January 17, 2008

Nation : Courts

Interstate Bakeries pursues its own plan

Interstate Bakeries Corp., which makes Wonder Bread, said yesterday that it would proceed with a bankruptcy court hearing Jan. 29 to request creditor approval for its plan. Tuesday's midnight deadline for outside proposals passed without any filings from Yucaipa, an investment firm lead by billionaire Ron Burkle, which last month submitted a preliminary proposal to buy Interstate Bakeries, valuing it at $580 million. The proposal did not provide details of a reorganization plan.

Earnings

AMR reports loss of $69 milllion

The parent company of American Airlines posted a loss of $69 million during the fourth quarter as fuel prices and weather disruptions wiped out higher revenue. AMR Corp. said yesterday that its loss reached 28 cents per share, compared with a profit of $17 million, or 7 cents per share, during the corresponding period a year earlier. The latest results include one-time gains of $115 million, or 46 cents per share, with the biggest portion coming from the sale of communications and engineering firm ARINC, the Fort Worth-based company said.

Revenue increased to $5.68 billion, from $5.4 billion a year ago.

Charles Schwab profit falls 34%

Retail brokerage Charles Schwab Corp. said yesterday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 34 percent from results a year ago that included a tax gain and earnings from its former U.S. Trust wealth management unit that has since been sold. Schwab earned $308 million, or 26 cents per share, for the October-December period, down from $467 million, or 37 cents per share, during the corresponding quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 23 percent to $1.35 billion from $1.1 billion a year ago.

World

: Economy

Indicators point to trouble for Japan

Japan's core machinery orders fell in November and a survey showed consumer sentiments at their worst in more than four years, adding to growing worries about a global slowdown. The indicators, released yesterday, show both companies and individuals are cutting back on spending, hailing possible trouble ahead for the world's second-largest economy.

EU inflation at 3.1% in December

Higher fuel and food prices kept year-on-year inflation in the euro area at 3.1 percent in December, the EU statistics agency Eurostat said yesterday. But soaring household bills did not hold European shoppers back from buying cars in the last month of the year, with overall sales rising 1.2 percent from a year earlier despite a massive slump in Germany. Inflation in the countries sharing the euro currency is at its highest level since euro cash was launched in 2002, staying the same as November.

Courts

French oil giant guilty in maritime spill

A Paris court convicted French oil giant Total SA yesterday over the 1999 sinking of an aging tanker in rough seas, which caused France's worst-ever oil spill. The court found Total guilty of maritime pollution and fined it the maximum penalty of $560,000. It also ordered Total and three other defendants to pay total damages of $285 million - the first time in France that a criminal court has awarded damages for an oil spill. The Erika, carrying fuel oil owned by a unit of Total, split in two and sank in rough seas off western France on Dec. 12, 1999. Nearly 6 million gallons of oil leaked into the Atlantic, killing up to 75,000 birds.

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

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