Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

January 25, 2008

Maryland : Retailing

Panera franchisee to add 6 bakery-cafes

Panera Bread said yesterday that a franchisee would build six more of its bakery-cafes in Maryland. Lemek LLC, which already owns 36 Panera franchises, has signed an agreement with Panera to open the additional locations. Panera did not say where the cafes would be built.

Andrea K. Walker

Earnings

Sandy Spring Bancorp profit up

Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc., the parent of Sandy Spring Bank, said yesterday that fourth- quarter earnings inched up as cost-cutting measures offset an increase in nonperforming loans. The Olney bank reported net income for the quarter that ended Dec. 31 was $8.4 million, compared with $8.3 million for the corresponding period a year ago. Earnings per share declined because more shares were issued. The company posted 51 cents per diluted share, compared with 55 cents per diluted share a year ago. Nonperforming assets totaled $34.9 million as of Dec. 31, compared with $3.9 million at the end of 2006.

Andrea K. Walker

Nation

: Economy

Morgan Stanley layoffs put at 1,000

Morgan Stanley plans to lay off about 2 percent of its workers this week to help cut expenses as the market for investment banking grows tougher, according to several reports yesterday. A spokesman for Morgan Stanley confirmed the bank is cutting some jobs. He declined to confirm the number, which is believed to be about 1,000 workers.

Courts

Prosecutors identify Broadcom officials

Federal prosecutors identified yesterday Broadcom Corp. co-founders Henry T. Nicholas III and Henry Samueli as "unindicted potential co-conspirators" in an investigation into the illegal backdating of stock options. The revelation came as former human resources executive Nancy Tullos pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice as part of the probe. Tullos struck a deal with prosecutors late last year and agreed to the plea in exchange for her cooperation in the case. Nicholas and Samueli were identified as "Executive A" and "Executive B" in the plea agreement, but U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney told prosecutors that not identifying them would undermine the factual basis of the plea deal.

Earnings

US Airways loses $79 million

US Airways Group Inc. said yesterday that it posted its first loss in five quarters as the carrier faced significantly higher fuel cost, along with lower revenue and traffic in the fourth quarter. The airline operator reported a loss of $79 million, or 87 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31 in contrast to a profit of $12 million, or 13 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding special items, US Airways reported a net loss of $42 million, or 45 cents per share, for the period. Revenue edged lower to $2.78 billion from $2.79 billion.

AT&T reports profit of $3.1 billion

AT&T Inc. earned $3.1 billion during the fourth quarter on gains in its wireless business and growth in its broadband Internet sales, the company reported yesterday. The net income amounted to 51 cents per share. During the corresponding period of 2006, the company earned $1.9 billion, or 50 cents per share. The results that quarter did not include the earnings of BellSouth because AT&T's takeover wasn't completed until final days of the period. Revenue in the fourth quarter nearly doubled to $30.35 billion from $15.9 billion in the previous year, but most of the growth came from the takeover of BellSouth.

Microsoft profit climbs 79%

Microsoft Corp. said yesterday that its fiscal second-quarter profit climbed 79 percent, buoyed by rising sales of Windows-based personal computers. For the quarter that ended Dec. 31, profit increased to $4.71 billion, or 50 cents per share, from $2.63 billion, or 26 cents per share, in the corresponding period last year. Revenue rose 31 percent to $16.37 billion from $12.5 billion.

Hershey net income declines 65%

Hershey Co. said yesterday that fourth-quarter profit plunged 65 percent to $54.3 million, or 24 cents a share, from $153.6 million, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier. Fourth-quarter sales climbed less than 1 percent to $1.34 billion.

Lennar loss put at $1.25 billion

Lennar Corp. reported a $1.25 billion fourth-quarter loss yesterday - the biggest in its history - as the prolonged housing slump drove prices lower and the builder took hefty charges to write down land values. Lennar said quarterly losses ballooned to $7.92 per share, from $195.6 million, or $1.24 per share, a year ago. Excluding a charge of $7.50 per share to write down the value of land options, the company would have lost 42 cents per share in the latest period. Revenue tumbled 49 percent to $2.18 billion from $4.27 billion in the 2006 period.

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

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