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Business digest

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000

XEROX TUMBLES AFTER WARNING: Shares of Xerox Corp. plunged more than 25 percent following the company's warning Monday that it will post a third-quarter loss. The warning -- the fourth in the past five quarters -- has analysts speculating that the copier company may be ripe for a takeover. However, the struggles of competitors such as Ikon Office Solutions and St. Petersburg's Danka Business Systems suggest some of Xerox's problems may be industrywide. Danka has posted losses in each of the past two quarters, citing strong competition and other external factors. Its stock has fallen from $12.69 as of Dec. 31 to $1.06. Xerox shares closed at $11.38, down $3.94.

BROWN & BROWN ADDS AGENCY: Insurance brokerage Brown & Brown Inc. is continuing its acquisition drive with the buyout of DSD Insurance Agency of Calabasas, Calif. Brown & Brown, formerly known as Poe & Brown, has dual headquarters in Tampa and Daytona Beach. DSD will add about $1-million in annual revenues to Brown, which already has swelled to about $250-million in projected revenues thanks to nearly 50 acquisitions over three years. Terms were not disclosed for the latest deal, which closed Sunday.

AUGUST NEW HOME SALES DROP: Sales of new single-family homes in August fell 3 percent to 893,000 units at an annual rate, the Commerce Department said. In July, sales had risen 11.8 percent to an annual pace of 921,000 units. August marks the fourth month out of the past five that home sales have fallen below an annual rate of 900,000 units, adding to evidence that the economy is expanding at a slower pace.

VISION TWENTY-ONE REORGANIZES: Vision Twenty-One Inc.'s founder has resigned and new management has been named as the eye care service company tries to restructure. The company is moving its headquarters to Baltimore and Boca Raton from Largo, where it now has fewer than a dozen employees. Within the past month, Ted Gillette, Vision Twenty-One's founder and chief executive, left the company; he has been replaced by Mark Gordon. Other appointments are Andrew Alcorn, president; Richard Jones, chief financial officer; Ellen Gordon, chief operating officer; and Howard Levin, vice president and clinical director. Since an offer to acquire Vision Twenty-One was terminated last summer, the struggling company has been trying to focus on its managed care business and is considering sale of its ambulatory and refractive surgery business.

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