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Business Today

Allstate to cut 700 jobs after hurricanes

By wire services
Published January 27, 2006

Allstate Corp., the second-largest U.S. personal lines insurer behind State Farm, plans to cut as many as 700 jobs at its headquarters in Northbrook, Ill., through a voluntary buyout program. Allstate is looking to trim costs and improve operations after losing $1.55-billion in the third quarter as a result of Katrina and other hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast last summer.

9 gas stations fined for price-gouging

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs said Thursday that it is seeking or has collected fines totaling $46,000 against nine service stations on suspicion of price-gouging in connection with the four hurricanes last year. Among them are three stations in Polk County and one in Sumter. Under state law, merchants selling essential items such as food, water, gasoline, lodging and storm-recovery materials during a state of emergency are prohibited from charging excessive or exorbitant prices for their goods.

Philip Morris to end illegal Internet sales

Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA reached an agreement with 37 states to combat the illegal sale of cigarettes via the Internet and through the mail, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said. Philip Morris, the world's biggest cigarettemaker, agreed to stop shipments of cigarettes to any of its direct customers who engage in illegal sales, reduce the amount of cigarettes made available to direct customers who resell them to Internet vendors and suspend from the company's incentive programs any retailers who engage in illegal sales.

Property insurance payouts set record

U.S. property and casualty insurers are expected to pay homeowners and businesses a record $56.8-billion for 2005 insured property losses from 24 catastrophic events, more than twice the record set in 2004, when insurers paid $27.3-billion in catastrophe claims, according to preliminary estimates released Thursday by insurance data-gathering service ISO. Five hurricanes - Katrina, Wilma, Rita, Ophelia and Dennis - affected nine states and accounted for $52.7-billion.

Big-ticket orders post solid December gain

Orders to American factories for big-ticket goods posted a solid gain in December. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that orders for durable goods rose by 1.3 percent in December, the third straight monthly increase, to a monthly record of $228.1-billion.

Walter to shut down Illinois valve plant

Walter Industries Inc. said it will close its Henry Pratt valve manufacturing plant in Dixon, Ill., by the end of this year. As many as 107 employees will be affected, although some may move to other Pratt facilities, where the work done at the Dixon plant is being transferred. The closing is part of a plan by Tampa-based Walter to create a unified water products company.


MarineMax Inc.: The nation's largest recreational boat retailer blamed Hurricane Wilma, in part, in reporting lower sales and earnings for its fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31. The Clearwater company said it has completed the purchase of the Port Arrowhead Group, a large retailer that will expand its presence in the Midwest. MarineMax's shares dropped nearly 5 percent Thursday to close at $30.45, down $1.52.

Global Imaging Systems Inc.: The Tampa company that sells and services copiers and other office equipment reported record earnings and revenues for its fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31.

Honeywell International Inc.: The industrial and aerospace conglomerate said quarterly profit more than doubled on higher demand for aircraft parts and services.

Media General Inc.: The Richmond, Va., owner of newspapers and television stations, including the Tampa Tribune and WFLA-Ch. 8, said quarterly earnings fell 32 percent, reflecting a lopsided comparison with a 2004 quarter bolstered by political advertising and the settlement of a newsprint swap dispute. Revenues decreased 1.7 percent.

Lockheed Martin Corp.: The largest U.S. defense contractor said net income grew 53 percent, boosted by one-time gains and higher sales of information technology services and space systems.

Eli Lilly and Co.: The drugmaker on Thursday reported a quarterly profit compared with a loss a year ago that reflected restructuring charges and tax expense from repatriated overseas earnings.

UPS Inc.: The world's largest shipping carrier reported a 21 percent increase in profit on a strong rise in revenue, but the results were slightly below Wall Street expectations.

Microsoft Corp.: The Redmond, Wash., computer giant said earnings in its fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31 rose 5 percent, helped by a successful launch of a new server product and a healthy market for personal computers.

[Last modified January 27, 2006, 01:30:05]

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