Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, October 21, 1999

HTA encouraged to fund 26 events

A committee of the Hawaii Tourism Authority has recommended spending $2.4 million next year to help fund 26 events ranging from surfing contests to big game fishing and a rugby football championship.

The spending, to be voted on by the full HTA board at its Nov. 3 meeting, is in addition to nearly $4 million earmarked earlier to support the NFL's Pro Bowl. The events committee, headed by Maui golf consultant Mark Rolfing, mostly chose to fund events that will present good media images of Hawaii, such as national television displays of ocean events. Proposed sponsorships include several golf tournaments, such as $200,000 for the Sony Open in Hawaii, as well as $50,000 for the Epson Cup International Rugby Championship in Honolulu in May.

GTE profit rises 16%

IRVING, Texas -- GTE Corp., a local phone company set to be acquired by Bell Atlantic Corp., said third-quarter earnings rose 16 percent on strong sales of data, Internet and international services.

The company, parent of GTE Hawaiian Tel, said profit from operations was $952 million, or 97 cents a share, compared with net income of $822 million, or 85 cents, in the year-ago period.
Revenue rose 7.8 percent to $6.43 billion from $5.97 billion. Earnings topped the 95-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by First Call Corp.

Boyd's Hawaii unit helps boost profits

Boyd Gaming Corp.,whose downtown Las Vegas hotels are popular with Hawaii residents, reported a net profit of $10.3 million for its third quarter, up 75 percent from $5.9 million in the 1998 quarter. Per-share earnings of 17 cents were up 70 percent from 10 cents. The Las Vegas-based company reported revenues of $239.5 million, up 2 percent from $234.6 million in the year-earlier quarter. Revenues at Vacations Hawaii, a Honolulu-based Boyd subsidiary, rose 15 percent to $9.8 million in the latest quarter from $8.5 million in 1998 period.

Mortgage rates edge closer to 8%

WASHINGTON -- The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 7.93 percent this week, the highest level in two months. The average was up from 7.85 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released today by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.

The average for this week is the highest since rates climbed to 8.15 percent in mid-August, the high for this year. Fifteen-year mortgages averaged 7.53 percent, up from the average of 7.45 percent last week. One-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged an initial rate of 6.30 percent this week, down from 6.31 percent.

AOL earnings triple

SPRINGFIELD, Va. -- America Online Inc. reported first quarter earnings that were triple those of the year-ago period, as the world's largest Internet service provider added more than one million new members worldwide.

AOL also announced yesterday a deal to have its Internet software loaded onto computers sold by Gateway Inc., the country's largest direct seller of consumer PCs. Under the deal, Gateway will receive $800 million over two years. The announcement came as AOL released first-quarter earnings of 15 cents per share. The $184 million was up from $50 million, or 4 cents per share, in the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial had been expecting earnings of 13 cents a share.

Revenues rose to $1.5 billion, a 47 percent increase over last year's first quarter.

Sears' net falls 11%

CHICAGO -- Sears, Roebuck and Co. reported today that its earnings dropped as expected due to sluggish retail sales during the summer. But the company also said business picked up in the early fall, raising hopes of an improvement in fourth-quarter results. The nation's second-larger retailer said it had earnings of $265 million, or 69 cents a share, down 11 percent from $298 million, or 76 cents a share, from a year ago. That exceeded the expectations of analysts who had revised forecasts to 64 cents a share from an initial 82 cents after the company warned last month profits would be below expectations.

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