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Business Today

By Wire services
Published December 24, 2003

AMERICAN DROPS INCREASE: American Airlines dropped a $6 round-trip fare increase tied to rising fuel costs because rivals didn't adopt the same charge. American raised the fuel-related surcharge to $13 one-way from $10 on Friday. It rescinded the increase Sunday "for competitive reasons," said American spokesman Al Becker. "What we canceled was the increase, not the surcharge," Becker said. "There are no plans to reinstate" the increase at a later date.

RAYTHEON GETS MISSILE CONTRACT: Raytheon Co. received a $274-million contract from the U.S. Navy to provide missiles and spare parts as part of the Navy's annual purchase to cover its own needs and those of allies. Raytheon will deliver 75 Standard Missile-2 Block IIIB missiles, which the Navy uses to defend against enemy aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles, spokeswoman Sara Hammond said. The award also covers 80 kits to upgrade older SM-2 missiles. Work on the new contract will be done at Raytheon plants in Tucson, Ariz.; Andover, Mass.; Camden, Ark.; and Farmington, N.M.

MESA DROPS TAKEOVER BID: Mesa Air Group said Tuesday that it had ended its bid for another regional airline, Atlantic Coast Airlines - the latest development in a dispute that also involves United Airlines. The decision to withdraw the offer came the day after United's parent company, UAL Corp., terminated an agreement with Mesa Air to negotiate a United Express contract if Mesa successfully acquired another regional airline. Atlantic Coast, which also provides regional service for United, had accused United earlier this fall of being a silent partner in a hostile takeover bid by Mesa.

CHECKERS HAS NEW CFO: David Koehler has resigned as chief financial officer at Checkers Drive-In Restaurants of Tampa to become CFO of a casual dining chain on the West Coast, which was not identified. Checkers said Monday it will replace Koehler with Pat Plumley, who left the grocery store chain Fresh Brands Inc. of Sheboygan, Wis., in September.

DUANE READE DRUGSTORES ACQUIRED: Duane Reade Inc., the largest operator of drugstores in the New York City area, is being acquired by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners L.P. in a $700-million deal, including debt, the companies said Tuesday. Duane Reade's stockholders will receive $17 a share in cash. The companies said that price is a 22.8 percent premium over the average closing price of Duane Reade's stock for the last 30 trading days. Oak Hill Capital Partners L.P. is a private equity and investment firms whose founders include billionaire Robert M. Bass.

BAXTER LOWERS OUTLOOK: Baxter International Inc. stock fell 51 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $30.39 Tuesday after the company cut its earnings forecast for the current quarter, citing lower-than-expected gains from the sale of assets. The medical products company with facilities in Largo and Clearwater said it now expects fourth quarter earnings of 62 cents to 65 cents a share on revenue between $2.44-billion and $2.5-billion. Analysts were expecting earnings of 68 cents a share in the quarter, according to Thomson First Call.

Year-End Markets

Was your investment a winner in 2003? On Friday, Jan. 2, watch for the Year-End Markets report with closing prices for thousands of stocks and mutual funds. You don't have to call or write for a copy. This special report will appear inside that day's St. Petersburg Times.

[Last modified December 24, 2003, 01:16:08]

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