Walter to invest in coal mining venture

By wire services
Published October 27, 2005

Walter Industries Inc. said Wednesday it will invest up to $19.6-million in a joint venture to mine coal in Shelby County, Ala.

The Tampa company said subsidiary United Land Corp. will own 51 percent of Kodiak Mining Co., and Walter expects the investment to generate annual earnings of 10 to 12 cents per share starting next year. Walter also said its U.S. Pipe unit will close a Chattanooga, Tenn., plant that employs 345 people and move some of the production to factories operated by its recently acquired Mueller Water Products unit. Projected cost savings were not disclosed. Walter said last week it will spin the two water-transmission subsidiaries into a separate, publicly traded stock early next year.

Catalina signs deal with Kmart

Catalina Marketing Corp., the St. Petersburg maker of electronic coupon printers, has signed a deal with Kmart to install Catalina's checkout communication system at the registers of 1,000 more Kmart stores nationwide. Financial details were not disclosed. The Catalina system offers retailers a way to offer discounts and messages to shoppers when they check out. The expansion is expected to be completed by fall 2006.

House passes bill on mortgage giants

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved tighter oversight of the two largest buyers of home mortgages. The legislation, passed by a 331-90 vote despite White House opposition, would rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that combine to finance or guarantee more than three-quarters of U.S. home mortgages. A bill that was approved by a Senate committee has significant differences.

BlackBerry maker loses first appeal

The maker of BlackBerry e-mail devices on Wednesday lost an emergency Supreme Court appeal that sought to put a long-running patent suit against the company on hold. Research In Motion Ltd. is appealing an infringement verdict to the high court and wanted the lawsuit stalled while the appeal was pending. The loss on Wednesday, which had been expected, does not say anything about a more significant issue, whether the Supreme Court will hear RIM's verdict appeal.

Hertz deal approved

U.S. antitrust regulators have approved Ford Motor Co.'s plan to sell Hertz Corp., its rental car subsidiary.

You can't put a price on that Vermont name

WATERBURY, Vt. - Whether the product is an apple pie, beer or world-famous Vermont maple syrup, the Vermont name has long been prized as a marketing tool. Now the state is looking to protect it by cracking down on its use by companies that have little or no connection to the state.

"It's an attempt, one, to be of assistance to consumers, to give them the means to know what they're buying and, secondarily, to be supportive to those businesses that are located in Vermont or are using Vermont ingredients in their products," said Attorney General William Sorrell, whose office drafted the new rules.

The rules extend only to foods, and apply only to companies doing business in the state.

A survey by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont found that an association with the state could boost sales of a product 15 percent.

"The power of the Vermont name in terms of quality and authenticity is like gold in the marketplace," David Barasch, a former Ben & Jerry's executive who founded the Vermont Mystic Pie Co. in 2002.

Other chatter

HOW DO YOU STACK UP?: If you've ever wondered where your income stacks up against everyone else, the Congress' Joint Economic Committee, using IRS data, is happy to tell you, at least for 2003. That year, if your adjusted gross income was $295,495 or more, you were in the top 1 percent of taxpayers. At $130,080, you were in the top 5 percent; at $94,891, the top 10 percent; at $57,343, the top 25 percent; and at $29,019, the top half.

Information from the Associated Press and the Washington Post was used in this report.


Walter Industries Inc.: The Tampa company said it earned 43 cents per share in the quarter ended Sept. 30. That was less than its previously projected range of 45 to 53 cents, but earlier predictions did not anticipate losses related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Walter also said it expects a fourth-quarter loss of 80 to 90 cents per share and full-year earnings of $1.00 to $1.10 per share, due to accounting effects from its recent acquisition of Mueller Water Products and a plan to close U.S. Pipe's Chattanooga factory.

Boeing Co.: The aircraftmaker and defense contractor said it more than doubled its profit, aided by a large tax benefit and strong operating results, but a rare drop in revenue from its defense program disappointed Wall Street. The Chicago company raised its estimates for earnings in 2005 and 2006.

ConocoPhillips: The Houston integrated oil and gas company said profit surged 89 percent, reflecting strong prices for crude oil and natural gas.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.: The Miami operator of the Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruise lines reported a 33 percent increase in profit, as revenue rose 8.4 percent because of higher cruise ticket prices and onboard revenue and a modest capacity increase. But the company expects high fuel prices to reduce fourth-quarter earnings by 10 cents a share and cut its 2006 profit by 60 cents a share.

Sprint Nextel Corp.: The Reston, Va., company posted a profit for its first quarter since Sprint bought Nextel Communications Inc. in August for $35-billion to create the nation's third-largest wireless carrier.

Anheuser-Busch Cos.: The nation's biggest brewer said profit fell 24 percent due to cost pressures, competition from other alcoholic drinks such as wines and spirits and a charge for a legal settlement.

MarineMax Inc.: The country's largest recreational boat retailer said same-store sales were up 24 percent during the quarter ended Sept. 30 versus the same period a year earlier, while net income rose 27 percent. Its fourth-quarter earnings of 54 cents per share would have been 6 cents higher if not for the Clearwater company's $1.9-million court loss last month in an Ohio customer dispute, which MarineMax is appealing. The company lowered its 2006 earnings forecast to a range of $1.85 to $1.95 from a previously announced range of $1.95 to $2, based on current business conditions, retail trends and other factors.