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Inside digest

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


NORTEL EXPANDS CUTS: Nortel Networks slashed its profit forecasts for 2001 and said it now plans to cut 10,000 jobs this year. Blaming a sharp drop in demand for its fiber-optic equipment, Nortel now expects just 15 percent growth in sales and a 10 percent gain in operating profit for the year. Nortel previously said those measures would improve 30 percent or better. It also said it will eliminate 6,000 more positions this year on top of the 4,000 announced last month.

OUTBACK ADDRESSES LONG LINES: By May, Outback Steakhouse Inc. will introduce a partial solution to its No. 1 customer problem: long lines. In a meeting with analysts, the Tampa restaurant company said it will soon let customers call ahead to get on the waiting list for a table. Though the move would reduce the amount of time spent waiting at the restaurant, it would not guarantee a table at a specific time. Outback tested the call-ahead concept in Austin, Texas.

THEATER CHAIN AGREES TO BUYOUT: Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. agreed to be sold to a group of Canadian and U.S. investors as part of a bankruptcy reorganization plan. Onex Corp., Oaktree Capital Management LLC and Pacific Capital Group Inc. will convert the $250-million they hold of New York-based Loews' bank debt into an 88 percent equity stake.

OFFICE DEPOT REPORTS LOSS: Office Depot Inc. reported a fourth-quarter loss and warned that first-quarter profit may miss forecasts. The Delray Beach office-supply chain lost $168.3-million, or 57 cents a share, compared with net income of $84-million, or 24 cents, a year earlier. Office Depot said first-quarter income will be 19 cents to 22 cents a share; analysts' had expected 22 cents. Its shares fell 36 cents to $9.09.

HEWLETT-PACKARD EARNINGS DROP: Hewlett-Packard Co. said fiscal first-quarter net income fell 59 percent to $328-million, or 17 cents a share, from $794-million, or 38 cents, a year ago. Excluding acquisition-related costs, Hewlett-Packard said, profit would have been 37 cents a share, matching analysts' expectations. Hewlett-Packard shares rose $1.96 to $36.35.

BROWN & BROWN BUYS INSURER: Brown & Brown Inc. has acquired Spencer & Associates Inc., a commercial and personal insurance agency serving the Melbourne and Titusville area. Spencer's Melbourne office will be combined with Brown & Brown's existing Melbourne operation, while the Titusville office will become a freestanding operation. Brown & Brown has dual headquarters in Tampa and Daytona Beach.

Earnings

Sykes Enterprises Inc.

The Tampa company said revenue from its core technical support business was 20 percent higher in the fourth quarter than a year earlier. But one-time charges totaling 36 cents per share led to a large quarterly loss. Excluding the midyear sale of its SHPS healthcare arm, Sykes lost 29 cents per share in 2000.

Excal Enterprises Inc.

Revenue gains in the Tampa company's sports licensing division were offset by the rising cost of goods sold and higher market research spending. Results are for the fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31.

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