Originally created 02/17/99

Additional business news

Deere first-quarter profit drops

MOLINE, Ill. -- Deere & Co. reported its first-quarter profit plunged 75 percent as a worldwide economic downturn sharply reduced sales of agricultural equipment.

For the three months that ended Jan. 1, the maker of large tractors and combines reported net income fell to $49.7 million, or 21 cents a share, from $203 million, or 81 cents a share, a year ago. The results beat Wall Street expectations of 18 cents a share, according to a survey of analysts by First Call Corp.

Hewlett-Packard earnings up

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Hewlett-Packard Co. earned $960 million in its fiscal first quarter, exceeding Wall Street's expectations.

The nation's second-largest computer company said Tuesday it earned 92 cents a share, compared to 86 cents, or $929 million, in last year's first-quarter mark. Analysts surveyed by First Call Corp. had expected the company to earn 83 cents per share.

Dell gains good, but disappointing

NEW YORK -- Dell Computer Corp. posted a 49 percent jump in quarterly profit Tuesday, but sales fell short of Wall Street predictions as Dell lost customers to rival sellers of lower-priced computers.

The company reported a profit of $425 million, or 31 cents a share, meeting analysts' forecasts for the company's fourth quarter, ended Jan. 29. That was up from a profit of $285 million, or 20 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter.

Prilosec becomes a best-seller

NEW YORK -- Ulcer drug Prilosec last year became the pharmaceutical industry's first $5 billion prescription medication. Prilosec, also commonly used for heartburn, has been the world's top selling drug since 1996, when it overtook another popular ulcer drug, Zantac.

In contrast, Viagra, the impotence drug that seems to have received more attention than any other prescription medication, had sales of $788 million last year.

Prilosec sales rose 27 percent in 1998 to $5.14 billion, Swedish drugmaker Astra AB said Tuesday. From 1993 until last July, Astra shared half of its U.S. sales with drug giant Merck & Co.

Commodities hit 24-year low

Crude oil futures prices tumbled as precious metals and coffee futures also fell sharply in a general rout on U.S. commodities markets that drove the Bridge Commodity Research Bureau's index of 17 products to its lowest since July 1975.


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