Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire



Maui Hyatt boasts concierge winner

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort concierge Michelle Perez won the "Most Aloha Spirit" crystal award of excellence at Guest Informant's ninth annual Aloha Spirit Awards ceremony, which honored Maui, Molokai and Lanai hotel concierges yesterday in Kaanapali.

Fiona Amby of the Lodge at Koele on Lanai, Malia Kino of the Sheraton Molokai Lodge & Beach Village and Michele Chow of the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui were named the best concierge on their island.

Nominations were given by hotel management, marketing executives and concierges.

Guest Informant will hold its next Aloha Spirit Awards evening to honor concierges on Oahu, the Big Island and Kauai in April.

Hawaii businesses to get Asia tips

The Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce & Industry are holding an "International Business & Economic Development Conference" starting Nov. 3 to help local companies compete in Asia.

The public event will include a symposium "Hiroshima-Hawaii Partnership in the 21st Century" Nov. 5, where Gov. Linda Lingle will make a presentation. There will also be a golf tournament and banquet Nov. 6.

The registration fee for the symposium is $35, plus $40 for the reception afterward.

For more information, call 949-5531.

American Eagle lands in Ala Moana

American Eagle Outfitters, which describes itself as a retailer of its own brand of "fashion-right clothing for 20-somethings," will open a 6,300-square-foot store on the third level of Ala Moana Center in mid-November. It will be the fourth Hawaii store for the company. American Eagle opened in Pearlridge Center and in Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo on July 30 and in the Queen Kaahumanu Center on Maui on Aug. 5.

Headquartered in Warrendale, Penn., publicly traded American Eagle Outfitters Inc. has 722 American Eagle stores in the United States and 61 in Canada, plus 111 Bluenotes/Thrifty stores, catering to 12-22 age group, in Canada.

Saudi Arabia poised to join WTO

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer, is likely to join the World Trade Organization next year, the chief of the international rule-setting body said.

"We can certainly expect the accession of the kingdom to be within the year 2004 and preferably toward the beginning of the year," Supachai Panitchpakdi, the WTO director general, told reporters after a meeting with Saudi trade minister Hashim Yamani in Geneva.

Accession to the WTO, which has 146 members, would follow more than a decade of efforts by Saudi Arabia to be part of a global trade organization. The country started negotiations in July 1993 with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO's predecessor.

The Saudi minister said that the kingdom is shortening a list of areas from which foreign investment is barred. A list drafted in 2001 restricts investment in telecommunications, insurance, wholesale and retail trade.

Hilton net falls 29 percent

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. >> Hilton Hotels Corp., the No. 3 U.S. hotel company, said third-quarter earnings fell 29 percent, hurt by rising costs and a slowdown in business-related travel.

Net income for the operator of Hilton and Embassy Suites dropped to $34 million, or 9 cents a share, from $48 million, or 13 cents, a year earlier. Revenue rose 3.2 percent to $964 million from $934 million.

Hilton said yesterday business travel in New York and Washington is improving. The company also said it is seeing strengthening in the leisure markets, including Hawaii where it owns the Hilton Hawaiian Village and Hilton Waikoloa and manages the Doubletree Alana Waikiki.

Time Warner earnings rise despite AOL unit

Time Warner Inc. reported continued problems at its struggling AOL division yesterday, including more losses of subscribers and declining revenues, even as the overall company posted sharply higher earnings for the third quarter.

The media company, which officially dropped "AOL" from its corporate name last week, said it earned $541 million, or 12 cents a share, in the three months ending Sept. 30, vs. $57 million, or 1 cent a share, in the same period a year ago. Revenues rose 4 percent to $10.33 billion from $9.96 billion in the same period a year ago. The AOL division lost another 688,000 subscribers during the quarter, bringing its total subscriber base to 24.7 million, 2 million lower than a year ago.

AMR ends drought with $1 million profit

FORT WORTH, Texas >> In the clearest sign yet of a slow recovery in the airline industry, the parent of American Airlines reported a tiny profit in the third quarter after a string of crushing losses since the start of 2001.

AMR Corp. said it earned about $1 million in the July-September period -- break-even on a per-share basis -- on revenue of $4.60 billion, topping Wall Street's expectations. AMR lost $924 million in last year's third quarter. The results marked a stunning turnaround for the world's largest airline, which has lost $6.4 billion in the past 2 1/2 years and nearly filed for bankruptcy in April.

In other news ...

>> Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc. plans to cut roughly 4,400 jobs, or about 7 percent of its work force, after posting a 1 percent drop in third-quarter profit as higher sales were offset by higher costs and research spending.


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