Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Monday, January 12, 1998

Guam to tourists: Come on down, we're open

Guam today said its airport is open, nearly all of its hotels are fully operational and it is once again welcoming tourists, three weeks after recovery efforts began in the wake of Typhoon Paka.

Electric power and water services have been restored in Tumon Bay, the main tourist center, roads are open and 95 percent of the tourist attractions can be reached, the Guam Visitors Bureau said.

Investors punt Sports Authority stock

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The stock of the Sports Authority Inc. fell today after the sporting goods retailer said weak sales will push its fourth-quarter earnings below expectations.

The company said Friday after the markets closed it expects to report fourth-quarter earnings of 27 cents a share, including a one-time charge that will reduce earnings by 8 cents a share.

In the quarter ended Jan. 26, 1996, Sports Authority earned $16.8 million, or 50 cents a diluted share, on revenue of $378.6 million.

The charge is related to three store closings in Miami, Las Vegas and Atlanta, as well as discontinuing distribution centers in the Northeast and Southeast.

Analysts surveyed by First Call Corp. had predicted fourth-quarter earnings of 56 cents a share.

The Sports Authority operates 186 stores in 30 states, including Hawaii, six stores in Canada, and seven in Japan. In afternoon trading, the company's shares dropped $1.19, or more than 9 percent, to $11.94 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Japan triples estimate of its banks' bad debt

TOKYO - Japanese banks are holding 76.7 trillion yen ($580 billion) in bad or questionable loans, almost three times the bad-debt figure they previously reported, the Finance Ministry said.

The new total - equivalent to about 16 percent of Japan's gross domestic product - is based on broader reporting guidelines set by the ministry. It provides the clearest picture yet of the problem loans that have piled up with the collapse of the real estate market this decade.

The announcement came in response to calls for greater disclosure that have mounted since the failure of four major financial institutions in November.

Armed with these numbers - and the government's plan to devote as much as 17 trillion yen to protecting depositors - the Finance Ministry is fighting to win back some of its lost credibility.

"The market has lost confidence in our ability to handle the crisis," said Sei Nakai, senior deputy director of banking. "With this plan we'd like to regain the confidence of the market. We think that (17 trillion yen) is really enough."

Korea's incoming leader promises to push layoffs

SEOUL - President-elect Kim Dae-jung said today he would push through bills making layoffs easier despite threats of nationwide strikes by militant labor unions.

Kim made the remarks when he met with Michel Camdessus, head of the International Monetary Fund. Layoffs are a key condition of the IMF's $57 billion bailout of the sinking South Korean economy. Under current Korean laws, layoffs are virtually impossible without consent of labor unions.

Kim's five-year term will not begin until Feb. 25 but under public pressure he has been involved in state affairs to save the economy. Parliament is expected to approve the pro-layoff bill in a three-day session this week.

A maverick labor group that forced the government to retract a similar proposal in early 1997 issued a statement today that it would organize nationwide strikes to oppose the bill.

"We demand that punishment of those responsible for the economic crisis and an overhauling of chaebol (conglomerates) should come first," said the group, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

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