Originally created 01/24/02

Business briefs



Lower prices put buyers in action

NEW YORK - Technology buyers set off a modest rally on Wall Street on Wednesday, encouraged by lower stock prices from the market's recent selloff and some mildly positive outlooks in the beleaguered sector.

The gains were tentative and selective, however, coming late in a session mostly characterized by fluctuations. The indecisiveness reflected what has become a trend - although stocks occasionally manage small advances, the market has been unable to sustain any broad, upward move because of worries about the timing and strength of an economic recovery.

Analysts say investors are waiting to hear more corporations say business is improving. So far, most haven't.

Mansour's closes store in Albany

Mansour's Inc., a five-location department store chain whose biggest store is located in Augusta, closed its Albany, Ga., store Tuesday and liquidated the merchandise, said Fred Mansour, the president and CEO of the 84-year-old family-owned business.

The Albany store was closed because it wasn't performing well, but the company plans to expand its business in Augusta, he said.

"We have no intention of leaving Augusta - it's a great market for us," Mr. Mansour said. "We have confidence in this market."

Lake Oconee resort will employ 400

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge will hire 400 workers to staff its 250-room Reynolds Plantation resort, which is scheduled to open March 1 on Lake Oconee near Greensboro, 70 miles west of Augusta.

Applications will be accepted at a job fair at the resort from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. No appointments are necessary to attend the fair. Those who have previously submitted resumes and references are urged to attend to complete an application and meet with Ritz-Carlton staff.

The company said 80 percent of available positions do not require previous training or experience. For questions or directions to the job fair, call the resort at (706) 467-7003.

Salary gender gap has grown since '95

WASHINGTON - Most female managers earned less money compared with men in 2000 than they did five years earlier, according to a congressional study of 10 industries.

Female full-time managers earned less than their male counterparts in all 10 fields in 1995 and 2000, the General Accounting Office found. In seven of the fields, the earnings gap grew during the five-year period.

The report suggests that women still struggle to break through the "glass ceiling" that historically has been a barrier to advancement in the workplace.

Plant closings cut into timber earnings

SEATTLE - Timber giant Weyerhaeuser Co. reported a loss for the fourth quarter Wednesday because of a one-time charge for closing three plants. The chief executive said the company was facing the worst industry conditions in a quarter century.

For the quarter ended Dec. 30, Weyerhaeuser had a net loss of $15 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with earnings of $194 million, or 88 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2000.

The results included an already announced one-time after-tax charge of $20 million, or 9 cents per share, from the cost of closing three wood-products plants.

Oil giant's profits drop with demand

IRVING, Texas - Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil company, said Wednesday that fourth-quarter profits fell 44 percent as demand and prices for crude and natural gas dropped, although the company met Wall Street's limited expectations.

The Irving, Texas-based company reported a net profit of $2.68 billion, or 39 cents per share, compared with $5.22 billion, or 75 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call predicted Exxon Mobil would earn 39 cents a share. Revenue for the quarter was $47.3 billion compared to $64.1 billion.

Environmentalists want coasts protected

BRUNSWICK, Ga. -An environmental organization is asking the state to protect Georgia coastal waters, saying pollution is responsible for the steep decline in the seafood industry.

The Center for Sustainable Growth, headquartered on St. Simons Island, has asked the Georgia Board of Natural Resources to monitor coastal waters more closely and enforce existing laws.

Georgia's seafood industry has seen a serious decline in recent years. Last year's crab harvest, for example, was two-thirds of what it was the year before, and about half of what it was 10 years ago. Blue crab, shrimp and finfish also are declining in size, health and numbers.

Wachovia earnings meet expectations

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Wachovia Corp. on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings of $730 million, or 54 cents a share.

The results represent the first full quarter since the Charlotte-based bank was created Sept. 1 by the merger of First Union Corp. and the former Wachovia Corp.

The October-December performance compared with profits of $599 million, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding merger-related charges and other items, profits were $799 million, or 58 cents a share, the bank said. That was in line with the 58 cents expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.