Originally created 05/16/02

Business briefs



Airline will honor $5 round-trip tickets

CHICAGO -For about 45 minutes Tuesday, United Airlines customers were able to buy round-trip tickets to U.S. cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles for as little as $5 because of an error by a computer that distributes fares for major airlines.

United will honor the tickets but did not yet know how many were bought or the destinations, spokeswoman Chris Nardella said Wednesday.

"We discovered the problem and we fixed it, but there was a 45-minute window when customers were able to book these tickets," she said.

Campbell profits drop despite high sales

TRENTON, N.J. -Campbell Soup Co.'s third-quarter net income fell 21 percent as a boost in sales from its expanded European dry soup and sauces business was offset by higher marketing expenses and more infrastructure investment.

The world's largest soup maker, which owns the Pepperidge Farm bakery in Aiken, said Wednesday that it earned $96 million, or 23 cents per share, in the quarter that ended April 28. The performance matched forecasts of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.

The Camden, N.J.-based company earned $122 million, or 30 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Excluding costs for reconfiguring its Australian operations, Campbell said first-quarter net income was $100 million, or 24 cents per share.

Federal audit finds grant money misspent

BOSTON -Advanced Cell Technology, which is trying to clone human embryos for therapeutic uses, misspent nearly $150,000 in government grants, according to a government audit that also questions the company's financial health.

The audit by the Department of Health and Human Services alleges that the company spent money on unaccounted-for salaries and on equipment that should not have been funded by taxpayers as part of three grants totaling $1.9 million.

Dr. Michael West, the company's president and chief executive, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday. He told The New York Times that the company had done nothing wrong but would repay the money.

Disney announces IRS investigation

BURBANK, Calif. -The Internal Revenue Service is auditing the tax returns of The Walt Disney Co., the entertainment giant disclosed Wednesday in its quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Disney said the IRS is examining returns from 1993 through 1995 and that auditors have indicated they will challenge "certain of the company's tax positions."

The company believes its handling of tax matters was proper and intends to defend any challenges. Disney warned investors, however, that the ultimate disposition of the challenge could result in the company having to make additional tax payments.

Hewlett-Packard spikes before Compaq merger

SAN JOSE, Calif. -In its last quarter of life without Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. reported sharply higher earnings, in line with Wall Street's expectations even though its sales fell short.

HP refused to give guidance on the combined company when it reported second-quarter results late Tuesday. Company officials said more details will be disclosed at a security analyst meeting June 4.

For its second quarter ended April 30, HP reported net income of $252 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with $47 million, or 2 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue dropped 9 percent to $10.6 billion from $11.7 billion in the year-ago period.

Knology announces first-quarter growth

WEST POINT, Ga. - Broadband service provider Knology Inc. reported first-quarter earnings of $3.5 million, compared with a loss of $1.7 million the company posted during the same period in 2001.

The company, which provides cable, phone and Internet service in Augusta, reported 256,653 connections systemwide at the end of the first quarter. Systemwide sales were $32 million, up 7 percent from fourth quarter 2001 and up 36 percent, compared with first quarter 2001.

Knology expects second-quarter connection growth to decline because of decisions to reduce capital and operating expenses.

AROUND TOWN

Lifestyle center

Augusta-based Prime Commercial Properties Inc. broke ground Wednesday on an 8,300-square-foot shopping center at 139 Davis Road.

The Shoppes at Devin Park, as the center will be called, is expected to open Sept. 1, according to the project's builder, Jeb Boggus Construction.

The anchor tenant, D.J. and Company Hair Salon, will occupy 3,900 square feet. The remainder is available for lease.

Janie Peel, the president of Prime Commercial Properties, said she is trying to market the project as a lifestyle center catering to women.

"This is a perfect location and unique atmosphere for this one-stop shopping center," she said. "We're looking for women's boutiques, gourmet dining and valet services to complete our concept."

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