Around the World February 18, 2001

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
aroundworld.jpg STATE

Anti-salmon ad pulled

ANCHORAGE -- Quaker Oats has pulled a national television commercial in which a little girl declares she doesn’t like Alaska food and Alaska salmon.

The girl instead says she likes a company product called Pasta Roni.

Alaska elected officials didn’t find the commercial humorous and called the company.

"We take our salmon very seriously," said Gov. Tony Knowles. "We’ve spent millions of dollars and years of hard work to protect the sterling reputation and integrity of our salmon and other fish. We’re pleased that Quaker Oats decided to pull the national ad."


Bookseller posts loss

NEW YORK -- Online bookseller reported a greater-than-expected fourth-quarter loss and announced that it would lay off 350 employees, or roughly 16 percent of its work force.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, had a net loss of $138.1 million, or 91 cents a share, compared with a loss of $38.4 million, or 27 cents a share during the same period last year.

Revenues grew 37 percent in the fourth quarter to $104.6 million, compared with $76.2 million a year earlier.

For the year ended Dec. 31, the company had a net loss of $275.7 million, or $1.87 per share, compared with $102.4 million, or 77 cents a share, in 1999.

Revenues rose 65 percent to $320.1 million from $193.7 million.

Phillips to buy Tosco

New York -- Phillips Petroleum Co. has agreed to buy Tosco Corp. in a $7 billion stock transaction.

Managers said Phillips will benefit from integrating Tosco with Phillips’ business in exploration and production, gas gathering and chemicals joint ventures.

Phillips will issue 0.8 Phillips shares for each Tosco share and assume approximately $2 billion in Tosco debts. The deal has been approved by both boards, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. It is expected to close by the end of the third quarter. Phillips’ board also has authorized a $1 billion share buyback program.

Phillips expects the acquisition to produce annual pretax synergies of $250 million, improved net cash flow and a year-end 2001 debt-to-capital ratio of about 37 percent.

Phillips runs three U.S. refineries, more than 6,000 retail and aviation outlets in 28 states and 6,000 miles of pipeline. It will acquire Tosco’s eight U.S. refineries and 6,400 retail outlets in 32 states, becoming the nation’s second largest refiner and its third largest marketer.

Phillips has 12,400 employees and $20.6 billion of assets, and had $21.2 billion in 2000 revenues.

Cisco misses target

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Cisco Systems Inc. missed Wall Street’s earnings expectations for the first time in 3 1/2 years despite a nearly 50 percent gain in quarterly profits, blaming the slip on the softening U.S. economy.

The world’s top supplier of equipment for the Internet and other computer networks earned $874 million, or 12 cents per share, in its second quarter ended Jan. 27. In the same three-month period a year ago, Cisco earned $816 million, or 11 cents per share.

Excluding one-time factors such as acquisitions expenses and research and development costs, Cisco earned $1.33 billion, or 18 cents a share. Analysts were expecting 19 cents per share. Cisco, widely seen as a barometer for the technology industry and the Internet economy, finished regular trading at $35.94, up $1.38, on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Another stamp hike likely

WASHINGTON -- Just a month after higher stamp prices took effect the U.S. Postal Service, facing massive losses, is considering another rate boost that could result in higher prices early next year.

The post office is reportedly facing losses of up to $2 billion this year despite the price increase that took effect Jan. 7, which included raising a first-class stamp a penny to 34 cents.

While approving that increase, the independent Postal Rate Commission rejected or scaled back several other requested price hikes, cutting expected income by some $1 billion. At the same time, mail volume has dropped because of the poor economy, further reducing anticipated income.


Oil demand slows

LONDON -- The growth of world oil demand has slowed faster than expected in pace with a cooling global economy, but has yet to push prices lower, a respected industry survey said Feb. 12.

World oil demand growth has fallen by 140,000 barrels per day to 1.5 million barrels per day, the Paris-based International Energy Agency said in its monthly report.

It predicted continuing volatility in oil markets because of moves by OPEC to cut production to keep prices high, and the consequent reduction in oil inventories.

High prices and mild weather in Europe and Asia are part of the story, but "the global economy is slowing, curbing demand,’’ the report said.

Compiled from business wire services.

02/17/2001 - 8:00pm