Daily Briefing

DAILY BRIEFING

August 05, 2009

FTI Consulting reports 6.9% profit increase in Q2

FTI Consulting Inc., a Baltimore firm that finds financial fraud, helps companies restructure and provides other business-advisory services, said Tuesday that its second-quarter profit was $37.2 million, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier. Revenue for the three months ending June 30 was $360.5 million, an increase of 6.8 percent from a year earlier. Per-share earnings were 69 cents, up 6.2 percent from a year earlier. FTI also said it now employs more than 3,400 worldwide.

- Jamie Smith Hopkins

State workers' pension system sees 20% drop

The Maryland State Retirement and Pension System ended fiscal 2009 with $28.5 billion, a 20 percent drop from a historical high of a year earlier, state officials said Tuesday. Officials blamed the decrease on declines in the global financial markets that brought the U.S. equity market down 26.6 percent and international equity markets down more than 30 percent for the year ended June 30. But despite the turmoil, the pension fund benefited from a shift away from heavy reliance on public equities, officials said. "The diversification of our portfolio and the strong leadership of the system's investment staff assure our 350,000 current members and beneficiaries, and their employers, that the system is strong and their retirement benefits continue to be safe and secure," said State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, chair of the fund's board of trustees. The system administers retirement and pension allowances of 115,000 retirees and beneficiaries as well as future benefits for more than 199,000 active and vested members. Members include state and local government employees.

- Lorraine Mirabella

UMBC launches business incubator for minorities

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County has launched a new incubator for minority-, women- or veteran-owned start-ups whose businesses are aimed at technology-related products and services for state and federal agencies. The Advantage Incubator @bwtech opened last week with four tenants at the bwtech@UMBC Research Park in Catonsville.

- Hanah Cho

PNC gives financing to buy, rehab E. Baltimore rentals

PNC Bank has provided $4.2 million in financing to help a Pennsylvania-based group, CMS Skyline Joint Venture of Wynnewood, buy and rehabilitate 60 rental properties for market-rate and low- to moderate-income residents on various sites in East Baltimore. The properties are near Patterson Park, Butchers Hill and Baltimore's waterfront, in ZIP codes 21205, 21213 and 21224. They bring to more than 245 the number of properties that members of the joint venture own and manage, primarily in East Baltimore. According to PNC representatives, the financing is part of an effort by the bank to "strengthen underserved neighborhoods throughout Baltimore," and most of the work will be complete within the next several months.

- Baltimore Sun reporter

Mortgage aid program helps fraction of borrowers

WASHINGTON - The government's $50 billion program to ease the mortgage crisis is helping only a tiny fraction of struggling homeowners, and a list released Tuesday showed which lenders are laggards. As of July, only 9 percent of eligible borrowers had seen their mortgage payments reduced with modified loans. And the first monthly progress report showed that 10 lenders had not changed a single mortgage. The report indicated that lenders such as Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo and Co. have lagged behind government expectations. Both banks received billions in federal bailout money. BofA modified just 4 percent of eligible loans, and Wells Fargo 6 percent. Wachovia Corp., which was taken over by Wells Fargo in December, modified only 2 percent. Wells Fargo said it plans to speed up its efforts, and BofA said it would improve its process for reaching those in need.

- Associated Press

Consumer electronics sales expected to fall

Sales of consumer electronics are expected to drop nearly 8 percent in 2009, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. It would be the industry's first decline since 2001. Excluding 2001, it's the biggest decline since 1975. And although some gadgets remain hot in the cold economy, Americans are shunning big-ticket items in favor of bargains or refusing to buy altogether. Each U.S. home contains more than two dozen electronic devices on average, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, an industry group.

-Los Angeles Times

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