Originally created 07/18/02

Business briefs



WorldCom offers to postpone selling

NEW YORK -WorldCom Inc. sought to calm its creditors Wednesday by offering to promise not to sell any of its subsidiaries over the next 80 days. A lawyer for the company said the move was an effort to buy "breathing room."

The company made the offer public, telling U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the deal between WorldCom and major creditors, an agreement that would halt the progress of a lawsuit against the company by 25 banks to recover $2.5 billion in loans.

The banks said they were misled by the long-distance and data systems giant, which recently disclosed it misstated nearly $4 billion in expenses as capital expenditures in a bid to appear more profitable.

Accounting company will pay $5 million

NEW YORK - PricewaterhouseCoopers, the nation's largest accounting company, has agreed to pay $5 million to settle allegations from federal regulators that it broke rules meant to ensure that auditors remain independent from the companies whose books they oversee.

PricewaterhouseCoopers neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement announced Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The firm agreed to be censured for engaging in improper professional conduct and to make changes in how it operates, the agency said.

As a result of the independence rules violations, the SEC found that 16 clients of PricewaterhouseCoopers submitted financial statements from 1996 to 2001 that didn't comply with federal securities laws.

Coca-Cola Co. reports increase in profits

ATLANTA -Coca-Cola Co. reported a 15 percent increase in second-quarter profits as revenue surged from invigorated sales with a mix of new brands in North America. The results were in line with Wall Street forecasts.

Net income rose to $1.29 billion, or 52 cents per share, for the April-June period from $1.11 billion, or 45 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. The quarter's results included a 2-cent impact from foreign currency losses.

Revenue jumped 15 percent to $5.36 billion from $4.65 billion in the same period of 2001, helped by a 2 percent sales growth for the beverage giant's flagship brand.

Judge dismisses suit against Tyson plant

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -A federal judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit that accused Tyson Foods Inc. of depressing workers' wages by hiring illegal immigrants at its Shelbyville plant.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge R. Allan Edgar does not affect a pending criminal case in which Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson, the nation's largest meat processing company, is accused with five former managers of various immigration law violations.

The lawsuit dismissed was filed in Winchester by former hourly employees of Tyson's plant in Shelbyville.

Cost cuts boost Honeywell profits

TRENTON, N.J. -Honeywell International reported sharply higher second-quarter profits, mainly because of huge one-time charges the high-tech diversified manufacturer took last year.

Continued cost cutting offset lower sales in every division, helping Honeywell post net income of $459 million, or 56 cents per share, the company said Wednesday. In 2001's second quarter, a host of one-time charges pulled Morris Township-based Honeywell's net income down to $50 million, or 6 cents per share.

Excluding several big charges in the current second quarter and the corresponding increase they would have caused in corporate taxes, net income would have been $454 million, or 55 cents per share.

AROUND TOWN

People's Bank sees assets rise

The holding company for Aiken-based People's Community Bank reported second-quarter earnings increased twofold, compared with the same period last year.

People's Community Capital Corp. said net income rose from $122,555, or 12 cents per share, to $249,150, or 24 cents per share during the period ending June 30.

The company's assets at the end of the quarter were $95.2 million, a 29 percent increase from the same period last year. Deposits reached $80.6 million, also a 29 percent increase from the previous year.

BRIEFLY

Government ends HCA investigation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Justice Department has closed its criminal investigation of HCA executives, clearing the way for them to testify in civil Medicare fraud cases against the nation's largest for-profit hospital company.

Steve Cole, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Tampa, Fla., declined to comment on the decision, which was noted in the Justice Department's monthly status report on the HCA whistleblower cases before U.S. District Court in Washington.

Justice Department officials in Washington also declined to comment.

Ford unsatisfied with its progress

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. - Ford Motor Co. reported a profit of $570 million in the second quarter, breaking a string of four consecutive losing quarters.

The results reported Wednesday beat Wall Street expectations, but executives of the world's second-biggest automaker expressed dissatisfaction with the progress of the company's restructuring efforts and its immediate earnings prospects.

In a teleconference with analysts and reporters, Chief Financial Officer Allan Gilmour said the automaker expects a small loss in the third quarter.

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