Originally created 11/06/01

Business briefs



NEW YORK - Investors bet heavily Monday that the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates again this week, and the anticipation of more help for the economy sent stocks spurting higher.

Wall Street also spent the day awaiting earnings from Cisco Systems and was not disappointed. The tech bellwether reported better-than-expected results after the market closed, pleasing investors anxious for signs of a business recovery.

"Cisco is a high-profile stock and one that a lot of people own," said Todd Clark, co-head of trading at WR Hambrecht. "So its results are going to be viewed as an important indication of the state of the technology economy"

"People are buying today with the expectation that it will be the second quarter of next year before the turnaround starts to take place," said Matt Brown, head of equity management at Wilmington Trust. "The stock market usually looks ahead about six months, so it doesn't surprise me then to see that people are starting to anticipate the ultimate rebound."

Still, stocks have had many false starts so it was hard to read much into the advance, which began early in the session and stayed strong. Since regaining much of their post-attack loss last month, stocks have seesawed as investors locked in profits from the big rally and looked for new reasons to buy.

Advancing issues led decliners nearly 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1.18 billion issues, compared with 1.12 billion Friday.

Quicker anthrax test will be used in labs

NEW YORK - Roche Diagnostics Corp. beginning next week will offer 24 laboratories a free, quick anthrax test developed by the Mayo Clinic, the company said Monday.

The test, which still needs federal approval, can identify anthrax in less than an hour. Currently, anthrax is confirmed through a blood culture test that can take three to four days.

The test has been in development since September and hasn't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Cisco Systems records loss but beats odds

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Cisco Systems Inc. posted a first-quarter net loss of $268 million, beating Wall Street's expectations and sending shares of the networking giant higher in after-hours trading.

For the three months ending Oct. 27, Cisco lost 4 cents a share, compared with a profit of $798 million, or 11 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $332 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with $1.4 billion, or 18 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue for the first quarter fell 32 percent, to $4.4 billion over a year ago, but increased 3 percent over the previous quarter's $4.3 billion. Analysts were expecting first-quarter sales of $4.2 billion.

Cisco, which makes routers and other devices that move traffic over the Internet and other data highways, suffered as businesses in general telecommunications companies specifically cut back spending.

PBS cuts more jobs, halts optional service

NEW YORK - The Public Broadcasting Service is cutting an additional 59 jobs, or 10 percent of its payroll, as part of a reorganization. It's the second time this year that it has cut staff in a bid to reduce costs.

PBS also is eliminating PBS Select, an optional set of syndicated programming for member stations.

Slightly more than half of the 59 job cuts were made by eliminating open positions, and the rest came from layoffs. Together with a round of staff cuts in March, PBS has cut its staff by 20 percent this year.

Suiza's earnings drop because of subsidiary

DALLAS - Suiza Foods Corp., the nation's largest dairy processor, said its third-quarter earnings will be less than had been expected because of poor results at a packaging subsidiary.

Dallas-based Suiza said it was lowering its earnings expectation from $1.10 a share to 98 cents. The company is scheduled to report financial results Wednesday.

Suiza blamed the shortfall on softer-than-expected results at Consolidated Container Co., based in Irving, Texas. Suiza owns 43 percent of Consolidated, which makes plastic containers.

UPS will raise rates for various services

ATLANTA - United Parcel Service Inc. will raise its ground shipping rate 3.5 percent, effective Jan. 7.

Overnight and two-day express services will jump 4 percent, and international shipping costs will increase 3.9 percent.

The Atlanta-based package delivery giant also is increasing the fee for residential deliveries a nickel, to $1.10. The fee for air express deliveries to homes will be $1.10 higher than the charge for taking those packages to businesses.

MINORITY RECRUITMENT

The Mortgage Bankers Association of America and lender Freddie Mac would like to see more minority professionals in the real-estate finance industry. The groups are working together on Path to Diversity, a program to promote internships for minority students and grant scholarships for MBA's School of Mortgage Banking.

For an application, call 202-557-2865 or click mbaa.org/diversity. The deadline is Dec. 3.

THE LONG VIEW

Despite corporate America shedding workers by the tens of thousands, the Employment Policy Foundation in Washington, D.C., insists the nation faces a massive worker shortage over the next few decades.

The problem, the conservative think tank says, will be the supply of highly skilled employees in the future, when more and more U.S. jobs will depend on sophisticated training. Foundation President Ed Potter says "52 percent of today's jobs require at least some college or post-secondary training ... in 30 years it will be 65 percent."

The consequences of an undertrained work force range from a reduced standard of living to inflation to erosion of the U.S. industrial base, he says.

ATM FEES

Anyone who has needed cash in a flash knows getting money from an automatic teller machine can be expensive.

The average surcharge from an ATM not owned by your bank has hit an all-time high of $1.45, according to Bankrate.com, up from $1.38 two years ago.

Americans will pay $2.2 billion in surcharges this year, estimates Bankrate.com, which follows the industry.

Nearly nine out of 10 banks impose surcharges when consumers use ATMs not affiliated with them, The American Bankers Association says.

FEWER AIR-BAG DEATHS

The Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign says government statistics show the number of confirmed child deaths attributed to air bags fell to six in 2000 from 25 in 1996, and the number of vehicles with air bags rose to more than 80 million from 22 million.