Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire



Queen's workers shift employers

Eight of a group of nine employees in the Queen's Medical Center information technology systems department lost their Queen's jobs last week but went to work at the same place in the same jobs for Texas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc.

In a notice to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Queen's said the one employee who chose not to hire on with the new employer was paid off according to existing 60-days-notice and severance-pay rules.

A Queen's spokeswoman said the change is part of the ongoing outsourcing of Queen's information technology.

Upbeat Cendant posts lower net

NEW YORK >> Cendant Corp., the largest U.S. real estate and travel-services company, said third-quarter earnings fell 23 percent because of an accounting change. The company, which bought Honolulu-founded discount travel retailer Cheap Tickets in October 2001, raised its 2003 profit forecast for a second time.

Net income dropped to $193 million, or 19 cents a share. Excluding costs to consolidate its direct marketing company, Trilegiant, profit would have risen to $486 million, or 47 cents, more than analysts' estimates. Revenue rose 32 percent to $5.06 billion.

The lowest interest rates in 45 years helped fuel a 50 percent revenue increase at Cendant's real estate unit, which includes the ERA, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker brokerages. Cendant, under Chief Executive Henry Silverman, is involved in one in every four home sales, which are expected to climb to a record 6.94 million this year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Cendant said it will earn as much as $1.41 this year. The company said in July profit would be as much as $1.39 a share. Demand for the company's travel businesses, which include franchising Howard Johnson and Days Inn hotels and the Galileo travel reservation company, are rising, helped by leisure travel, Silverman said in the statement.

Profit at Cendant's travel distribution unit, including the Internet travel site, fell 8 percent.

Southwest Air's earnings soar

DALLAS >> Southwest Airlines Co., the largest low-fare carrier, said third-quarter profit rose 41 percent as it flew more passengers at higher fares.

Net income increased to $106 million, or 13 cents a share, from $75 million, or 9 cents, in the same period last year, the company said. Sales rose 12 percent to a record $1.55 billion from $1.39 billion. Southwest offered fewer reduced fares in the quarter as vacation travel increased. Flights by business passengers, who generally buy at the last minute and pay higher fares, also increased.

Sony may cut up to 20,000 jobs

TOKYO >> Japanese electronics and entertainment giant Sony Corp. plans to eliminate up to 20,000 jobs, or more than 12 percent of its work force, by March 2006 in a major restructuring, a Japanese newspaper reported yesterday.

The Nihon Keizai newspaper reported Sony would eliminate 15,000 to 20,000 jobs from its work force of 161,000. It also said Sony would halt domestic production of cathode-ray tubes for televisions at two plants by the end of 2004 to focus on flat-panel TVs.

A Sony spokeswoman, Mariko Yamabe, confirmed that the company is conducting a review of its worldwide operations, and expects to announce a major restructuring Oct. 28.

She refused to comment on the specifics of the newspaper report, but didn't deny that more jobs could be cut.

Federal deficit reaches record $374.2 billion

WASHINGTON >> The federal deficit soared to $374.2 billion in 2003, the White House said yesterday, a record total that more than doubled last year's red ink and looked like a prelude to even gloomier numbers.

Because the shortfall marked an improvement from a $455 billion projection the White House made in July, Bush administration officials cited it as evidence that their attempts to fortify the weak economy were working.

White House budget director Joshua Bolten said much the same but also conceded that worse fiscal numbers were on the horizon, estimating the gap for the new year "will likely exceed $500 billion even with the strengthening economy."

Juror's expectant wife delays Quattrone trial

NEW YORK >> The obstruction of justice trial of former star Silicon Valley investment banker Frank Quattrone was suspended until tomorrow because a juror's wife was close to delivering a baby.

The trial already was operating with 11 jurors, one short of the standard 12, because the mother of another juror had a heart attack on the first day of deliberations. Trial rules prohibit deliberations with just 10 jurors without consent of the lawyers in the case. U.S. District Judge Richard Owen sent jurors home today and told them their discussions could continue tomorrow at the earliest.

In other news ...

>> Morgan Stanley was sued by investors in a class action for improper sales practices involving its family of mutual funds between Oct. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2002. The complaint said Morgan Stanley pushed its brokers to tout Morgan Stanley funds over others, misleading investors.


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