Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire




State tax revenues down nearly 10%

Despite an 11 percent jump in general excise tax income, total taxes paid into the state general fund last month were down 9.6 percent, the state Department of Taxation said today. There was a substantial drop in individual income tax revenues and corporate income taxes were also down, the department said.

Total general fund tax revenues for January were $307.9 million, down from $340.6 million in January 2002.

However, the state said general fund revenues for the first seven months of the current fiscal year were still up 1.9 percent from the first seven months of fiscal 2002 at $1.9 billion from $1.89 billion. The state Council on Revenues is projecting tax revenues for all of fiscal 2003 will be up 6.1 percent from last year.

The general excise tax and use taxes brought in $161.3 million last month, up from $145.4 million in January 2002. At $139.9 million, individual income taxes were down 10.5 percent from the previous January, at $139.9 million compared to a year-earlier $156.3 million.

An improvement in tourism was shown by a 15.1 percent increase in the transient accommodations tax take, to $13.7 million last month from $11.9 million in January 2002. The accommodations tax, also called the hotel room tax, is not included in the general fund total because it goes into a separate tourism fund.


Marriott loss falls but outlook lower

BETHESDA, Md. >> Hotel operator Marriott International reported a smaller fourth-quarter loss than a year ago yesterday, but lowered its outlook for 2003.

Marriott posted a loss of $37 million, or 15 cents a share, for the quarter ending Jan. 3 versus a loss of $116 million, or 48 cents a share, a year earlier.

The fourth-quarter results included charges from Marriott's exit from its senior citizen housing business and service distribution operation. Without the charges, Marriott earned 55 cents per share in the fourth quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call predicted Marriott would earn 54 cents per share, not including the charges.

Fourth-quarter revenue was $2.68 billion, up from the $2.14 billion reported for the fourth quarter of 2001. Revenue per available room rose 7.4 percent in North America and 13.9 percent overseas.

For 2002, Marriott earned $277 million, or $1.10 per share, up from the $236 million, or 92 cents per share, reported for 2001.

Venture capital falls to 21-year low

SAN FRANCISCO >> Still hurting from the dot-com bust, shellshocked venture capitalists in 2002 curtailed their fund raising for future investments to a 21-year low, according to a report released yesterday.

While 108 venture capital funds raised a total of $6.9 billion during 2002, another 26 funds refunded $5 billion to investors, according to data compiled by Thomson Venture Economics for the National Venture Capital Association.

The net fund-raising total of $1.9 billion represented the smallest inflow of venture capital since $1.6 billion flowed into the industry in 1981.

EU regulators OK cruise deal

BRUSSELS, Belgium >> European Union antitrust regulators gave their approval yesterday to U.S.-based cruise giant Carnival Corp.'s sweetened $5.5 billion takeover of rival cruise operator P&O Princess Cruises PLC.

The European Commission said the takeover of British P&O Princess Cruises did not violate EU competition rules.

"The absence of any significant changes in the cruise markets concerned" led the Commission to clear the deal without requiring any spin-offs.

Johnson & Johnson buys biotech firm

TRENTON, N.J. >> Johnson & Johnson, the health-care giant the public knows for its baby, skin and wound-care products, is boosting its biotech might with the acquisition of Scios Inc. in a $2.4 billion cash-for-stock deal announced yesterday.

Buying Scios, a 22-year-old biotech company with one product on the market, gives J&J a new, likely lucrative heart drug and a possible future blockbuster, while Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Scios should get sales and research support that will help it grow quickly, analysts say.

Fuel prices likely to continue rising

WASHINGTON >> Prices for heating oil and gasoline are soaring and likely to keep rising as energy markets cope with a colder than expected mainland winter, the loss of Venezuela's production and worries about war with Iraq.

A deep freeze in the Northeast caused heating oil prices to spike by 20 percent last week. The Energy Department, citing low stocks -- as well as higher natural gas prices -- said heating bills could be 50 percent higher this year than last winter. Consumers are getting hit at the gasoline pumps as well.

Morgan may launch fund tied to behavior

NEW YORK >> J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is considering launching a mutual fund that tests an increasingly popular investment concept: behavioral finance. Fund managers who pick stocks on behavioral finance concepts believe that stock-market moves are tied to the psychology of investors, who act irrationally but in a consistent manner. The hope among these managers is that future stock-market fluctuations may be partly predicted by analyzing investors' behavior.



>> Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel have named Darcy L. Endo-Omoto and Carol E. Lockwood as new partners. Endo-Omoto represents local and national corporations in state and county government matters. She joined Goodsill in 1997. Lockwood represents commercial and residential clients in leasing, purchase and sale transactions, development and financing. In her international trade practice, she represents private and governmental clients in U.S. import and export, encryption controls, customs laws, domestic and international anticorruption issues. She joined Goodsill in 2000.

>> Diane Mather-Gemelli has opened a new national discount real estate brokerage franchise in Honolulu called Assist-2-Sell. She has been a licensed Realtor since 1988.

>> Rider Hunt Levett & Bailey has hired Jian Zhou as a cost manager. Zhou has more than eight years of experience, most recently as cost manager for Rider Hunt's San Francisco office. He will be responsible for providing professional services on a variety of project types for the property and construction consulting firm. Rider Hunt Levett & Bailey has more than 60 offices worldwide.P> >> Cadinha & Co. LLC has named Vice President Kaleialoha K. Cadinha-Puaa portfolio manager and research analyst. Cadinha & Co. is a Honolulu-based registered investment advisory firm that also operates a branch in Nashville, Tenn.

>> has appointed Theresa M. Fleming property manager. She replaces Dawn Kane.

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