Around the World November 4, 2001

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Fort Greely site work nears completion

FAIRBANKS - Initial site work at the National Missile Defense Test Bed at Fort Greely is expected to be finished soon.

Lt. Col. Richard Lehner, a Missile Defense spokesman in Washington, D.C., said workers are about 75 percent finished removing the top soil and about half finished drilling water wells.

"That’s going to be it for this year," Lehner said.

The work should be completed by Nov. 7. That means the project is on or ahead of schedule, with the next question being whether there will be government approval to begin construction in the spring.

"We’d like to start building five test beds there in April," Lehner said. But no contracts can be awarded until the project receives approval from the Secretary of Defense and Congress.

If the project moves forward, Fort Greely will be the site of test interceptors for training and maintenance. Actual testing would be done from the Alaska Space Port on Kodiak Island.

Winter slows pipeline spill cleanup

ANCHORAGE - The cold temperatures and snow have slowed the cleanup of oil spilled earlier this month when a man shot a hole in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline north of Fairbanks.The cleanup rate is about 700 gallons a day compared with 70,000 gallons a day immediately after the spill.

In total, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., the company that runs the pipeline, has recovered more than 171,000 gallons of fluid.

That’s more than half of the 285,600 gallons of crude oil that spilled after the shooting Oct. 4 near Livengood about 75 miles north of Fairbanks. Alyeska and state officials both say that getting more than half the oil is a good cleanup.

As oil recovery slows, cleanup will turn toward more aggressive steps: clearing the stained forest and removing about 3 acres of topsoil.


FedEx optimistic about earnings

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - FedEx Corp. expects its second-quarter earnings to beat Wall Street expectations even without government assistance being offered to airlines to offset the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.Alan B. Graf Jr., executive vice president and chief financial officer, said Oct. 29 that solid growth of FedEx Ground, the company’s home-delivery business, contributed to the company’s profitability this quarter.

He also credited the company’s broad portfolio of services for helping offset the impact of the terrorist attacks, which hit the company’s air cargo express service the hardest.

The express delivery company said its earnings are expected to range from 40 cents to 45 cents a share for the quarter ending Nov. 30.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had been forecasting earnings of 35 cents a share.

The estimated quarterly earnings exclude the company’s $101 million share of a $15 billion federal relief package for the airline industry.

Wary Americans push down new home sales

WASHINGTON - Wary about making big financial commitments, Americans pushed sales of new homes in September down to their lowest point in a year. Rising layoffs and new uncertainties raised by the terror attacks darkened the mood of prospective buyers.New-home sales dropped 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 864,000, the lowest level since August 2000, when a rate of 839,000 homes were sold, the Commerce Department reported Oct. 26.

Last month’s drop came on top of a 2.9 percent decline in new-home sales in August, according to revised figures.

Lockheed Martin posts profit

BETHESDA, Md. - Defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. posted a profit for the third quarter in contrast to a loss a year ago, citing stronger sales and cost-cutting measures that shrank the company’s debt.The earnings report was released hours before Lockheed found out it had won the $200 billion contract to build the Pentagon’s new high-tech, next-generation fighter jet.

Lockheed earned $213 million, or 49 cents a share, in the July-September period in contrast to a loss of $704 million, or $1.74 a share, a year earlier.

No-interest financing extended

DETROIT - DaimlerChrysler AG said Oct. 26 it will extend until Nov. 19 its offer of no-interest financing on certain 2002 vehicles.The move comes nine days after General Motors Corp. said it would extend its own zero-percent finance offer to Nov. 18.

Ford Motor Co. also is offering no-interest financing.

Kraft plans to cut 1,000 jobs

NORTHFIELD, Ill. - Consumer foods giant Kraft Foods Inc. said Oct. 26 it plans to eliminate 1,000 jobs from its work force of 117,000 through voluntary retirements based on increased benefits.The nation’s largest food company with brands like Maxwell House coffee, Oscar Mayer meats and Post cereals said the reductions are part of its continuing integration of Nabisco, the maker of Ritz crackers, Chips Ahoy cookies and Planters nuts which it acquired last December.

The company said the enhanced retirement program should result in annual savings of about $80 million.


Japanese beef sales plunge

TOKYO - Hiromichi Murakami stands beside a glistening, 1,000-pound carcass that once was the Japanese cattle farmer’s equivalent of gold - a near perfect hunk of Matsusaka beef.Now, demand is so low it’s hardly worth trying to sell, he says.

"These are the worst times our business has seen since I got in, and that’s more than 30 years ago," Murakami, who owns a beef wholesaling company.

For years, Japanese beef was synonymous with an almost over-the-top emphasis on quality. Cows were massaged in their barns to the sounds of Mozart and fattened up on a diet of, among other things, beer.

But since the discovery last month of a cow just outside Tokyo that had developed mad cow disease, Japanese beef has been banned from many foreign markets. Cattle farmers, wholesalers, butchers and restaurateurs are looking at a domestic market that has collapsed - and may take years to recover.

- Compiled from business wire services.

11/04/2001 - 8:00pm