Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Friday, January 25, 2002

Aquasearch fires auditor after viability questioned

Aquasearch Inc., a Big Island biopharmaceutical company, said in a regulatory filing that it dismissed Ernst & Young as its auditor and hired Buttke, Bersch & Wanzek PC last week.

For the past two years ended Oct. 31, 2001, and Oct. 31, 2000, Ernst & Young has issued reports that expressed doubts about the company's ability to continue as a going concern, Dow Jones News Service reported. According to Aquasearch's Form 8-K filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company, which is based in Kailua-Kona, had no disagreements with Ernst & Young regarding its accounting practices, financial-statement disclosures, or auditing procedures. Aquasearch is operating as a debtor-in-possession under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.

Hawaiian Airlines adds to mainland routes

Hawaiian Airlines, which earlier announced a new Seattle-Maui connection, is planning a number of other mainland-Maui direct flights for this summer. The company will add a new daily San Francisco-Maui service, bring back its daily Los Angeles-Maui service and boost its Los Angeles-Honolulu service in the summer to four flights a day from three. The new schedule changes will take effect June 15. Hawaiian's Seattle-Maui service will start March 15.

The Los Angeles-Kahului direct flight, cut off after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, will bring Hawaiian back to earlier service levels and the San Francisco-Maui flight will increase mainland-Hawaii frequency. Hawaiian said it will boost its West Coast-Maui service to three flights a day. The flights will be aboard new Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, carrying 18 passengers in first class and 234 in coach class. The airline currently has seven daily round-trip flights between Honolulu and five West Coast gateways.

Del Monte profits double as sales increase 9%

SAN FRANCISCO >> Del Monte Foods Co., the largest U.S. producer of canned fruits and vegetables, said fiscal second-quarter profit more than doubled as sales rose and costs from closing plants hurt earnings a year earlier.

Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose to $18.9 million, or 36 cents a share, from $8.5 million, or 16 cents, a year earlier, Del Monte said.

Sales rose 9 percent to $391.3 million from $358.2 million. San Francisco-based Del Monte increased prices July 1 on a variety of its produce and bought the S&W and Sunfresh brands.

The company, which grows pineapple on Oahu, also said its first-quarter loss was wider than previously reported because of losses on interest-rate swaps. The loss was restated to $5.3 million from $800,000.

In other news . . .

SAN DIEGO >> Gateway Inc., the nation's fourth-largest computer maker, announced yesterday that it will eliminate 2,250 jobs to cut costs amid slower sales and a shrinking share of the U.S. market. The company will also eliminate offices in Southern California, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Colorado and close 19 of its Country Stores in nine states.

The cuts came as the company reported a net profit of $5.1 million in the fourth quarter, reversing a year-ago loss of $128 million. The profit came even though domestic computer sales fell 17 percent.

SAN JOSE, Calif. >> Optical networking equipment maker JDS Uniphase Corp. said yesterday it has reduced its work force by another 2,000 employees as losses widened to $2.1 billion in its fiscal second quarter.

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