Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, April 19, 2001


Nalo Farms Field Supervisor Ed Miyashita shows off
trays of bean sprouts to students from Hawaii Pacific
University and Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School.
Members of Students In Free Enterprise from HPU
organized a farm tour yesterday for sixth-grade
students who are out of school due to the teachers'
strike. Nalo Farms owner Dean Okimoto and his
staff talked about the produce grown locally and
its use. Contrary to assumptions about children
and vegetables, samples were a hit.

Bankoh savings plan to double your money

Bank of Hawaii has launched a new savings account plan that can more than double the interest paid to savers if they don't withdraw money.

Called Bonus Rate Savings, the plan raises the interest payout to 4 percent, from 1.5 percent, for anyone who deposits at least $25 in a month and makes no withdrawal. Those with accounts between $10,000 and $24,999, who receive a 1.75 percent annual yield, will see it go to 4.25 percent under the same conditions and savers with $25,000 or more in their accounts will see the rate go to 4.5 percent from 2 percent.

The bank said savers who leave their money in the account will benefit in another way as well, by a waiver of the monthly service fee. Those who do make a withdrawal or don't make a deposit can have the fee waived if they maintain a $500 balance.

Hawaii's March gas prices topped nation, survey says

Hawaii had the most expensive regular unleaded gasoline in the country in March, at $1.98 a gallon, according to the monthly survey by the American Automobile Association. California was next with an average of $1.84, followed by Nevada at $1.78.

The states with the lowest prices for regular unleaded were New Jersey, $1.44; and Georgia, $1.46. The U.S. average in March was $1.59, up 15 cents from February, AAA said.

Dole profits down 4.7%

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. >> Dole Food Co., the biggest seller of fresh fruit, said first-quarter earnings fell 4.7 percent because of increased marketing costs and declines in foreign currencies against the dollar.

Net income fell to $34.7 million, or 62 cents a share, from $36.4 million, or 65 cents, a year earlier. Sales fell 1.4 percent to $1.11 billion from $1.13 billion, the company said

Dole sales have been hurt in recent quarters by the decline in foreign currencies against the dollar and a trade dispute over bananas in Europe.

Kaiser says rate cut will help reduce its debt

OAKLAND, Calif. >> Kaiser Permanente, the No. 1 nonprofit U.S. health insurer, said yesterday's half-point rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve will save it millions of dollars a year in interest payments.

The health-plan operator plans to refinance about $160 million of its $1.7 billion in debt and raise another $250 million at the lower rates, said Kaiser Vice President and Treasurer Thomas Meier.

AOL stock shoots up with earnings

NEW YORK >> AOL Time Warner Inc.'s stock price shot up 12 percent yesterday after the company announced better than expected sales.

The first quarter's strong sales provided tangible evidence that America Online Inc.'s purchase of Time Warner Inc. may pay off. When the Internet service provider took over the media and entertainment giant, skeptics suggested the combined company would be too unwieldy.

But AOL Time Warner answered by announcing that first-quarter sales had jumped 9.2 percent to $9.08 billion, up from $8.32 billion a year ago.

IBM earnings rise 15%, match expectations

NEW YORK >> IBM Corp. posted a 15 percent increase in first-quarter earnings, meeting Wall Street forecasts and maintaining a cautiously optimistic stance on the rest of 2001.

Net income totaled $1.75 billion, or 98 cents per share, for the first three months of the year, up from $1.52 billion or 83 cents a share in the first quarter of 2000.

IBM's report, released yesterday afternoon, showed first-quarter revenues of $21.04 billion, an increase of 9 percent from $19.34 billion in the year-ago period.

Apple tops forecasts, returns to profitability

SAN JOSE, Calif. >> Apple Computer Inc. exceeded Wall Street's expectations yesterday, returning to profitability as promised after posting its first quarterly loss in three years.

For the three months ended March 31, Apple earned $43 million, or 12 cents a share. Without non-recurring items, Apple's profit was $40 million, or 11 cents a share. Analysts had projected earnings of just a penny a share.

GM's net sinks 87%, but beats estimates

DETROIT >> General Motors Corp.'s net earnings plunged 87 percent in the first quarter as a nagging slowdown in U.S. auto sales chewed into profits, though the results still handily beat Wall Street's expectations.

GM earned $237 million, or 53 cents a share, in the January-March period, down sharply from $1.78 billion, or $2.80 a share, a year ago. The earnings easily beat analysts' estimates of 26 cents.

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