America Online executives, including Chairman Stephen Case and President Bob Pittman, sold 4 million AOL shares in block trades. The 1.5 million shares that Case sold -- 9 percent of his holdings -- would be worth nearly $150 million based on yesterday's closing price of $100.12 1/2 a share. Pittman sold 1 million shares, or 13 percent of his holdings. "Our executives routinely sell shares during open windows as part of their long-term personal financial planning," an AOL spokesman said.
Bankers Trust was ordered to pay $60 million in fines in a plea deal that settled criminal charges alleging the company boosted profits by pocketing unclaimed customer accounts. Earlier, three former bank executives were indicted on charges they converted $15.5 million in unclaimed customer funds and credits into bank profits between 1989 and 1996. The money from the accounts should have continued to have been held for the customers or been sent to state governments as abandoned property.
Fleet Finance and two successor companies have agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that Fleet deceived home equity loan borrowers. The FTC said Atlanta-based Fleet, a former unit of Fleet Financial Group, didn't give borrowers accurate information on the costs and terms of their loans. Rhode Island and Delaware-based units of Home Equity U.S.A. also took part in the settlement.
IBM unveiled a storage system for computer networks, taking aim at EMC, the No. 1 maker of storage devices for big companies. The IBM storage system, called Shark, can hold more than 11 terabytes of information -- more than the printed collection of the U.S. Library of Congress.
T-bill rates rose. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday rose to 4.535 percent from 4.520 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 4.520 percent from 4.490 percent. The actual return to investors is 4.663 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,885.40, and 4.703 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,771.50. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, fell to 4.98 percent last week from 5.01 percent the previous week.
Home sales soared to a record rate in June as buyers rushed to take advantage of low mortgage rates, the National Association of Realtors said. Sales of existing homes rose 10.6 percent in June to an annualized rate of 5.53 million units, the highest rate on record. The industry group said buyers moved into the market when they saw mortgage rates starting to rise.
Texas Instruments, the biggest maker of semiconductors for cellular telephones, agreed to buy chipmaker Unitrode for $1.2 billion in stock. Unitrode, of New Hampshire, makes products that manage power supplies and extend battery life in portable electronics. Dallas-based TI will pay about $38.60 a share, a 44 percent premium over Unitrode's closing price Friday.
Shire Pharmaceuticals is acquiring Roberts Pharmaceutical in a $1 billion deal that could create a new powerhouse among a handful of specialty drug companies. The two companies specialize in developing and selling brand-name drugs acquired or licensed from other companies late in the research process. Alex Zisson, a pharmaceutical analyst with Hambrecht & Quist in New York, called the merger "a continuation of a trend we've seen earlier this year."
Entercom Communications, a Pennsylvania company that has been gobbling up radio stations for several years, reached a sweeping agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group of Baltimore to buy 43 radio stations for $821.5 million in cash. Stations in the deal include those in Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Orleans; Memphis; Buffalo; and Norfolk.
Bausch & Lomb is selling Charles River Laboratories, which breeds rodents for research, to the investment group Global Health Care Partners. The sale is for $400 million cash and a $43 million promissory note. The company put the division up for sale early this year; it is the last of the eye-care company's non-strategic businesses to be sold.
Competing Internet sites offering information from business filings to the SEC have agreed to merge. Edgar Online said it had reached an agreement in principle to buy privately held Partes, which runs the site FreeEdgar.com, for about $10.7 million. The two sites offer a wealth of financial information from the SEC's computer databases, along with services such as information about initial public stock offerings, managers of companies and other business data.
SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. warned the New York Stock Exchange and the National Association of Securities Dealers to keep tight oversight of brokerage activity as they move to convert to public corporations. Levitt, in a letter to the industry's two main self-policing groups, suggested that they may have to separate their policing function from their stock exchanges.
Airbus Industrie, angered at Boeing's June agreement to buy used Airbus planes from Singapore Airlines and replace them with Boeing jets, vowed it will deny factory parts and service to any airline that later buys the used Airbus planes from Boeing. Boeing's agreement has stung the European builder because Singapore Airlines' buying decisions are watched closely by other airlines, especially in Asia. Airbus said Boeing's move would lead to another round of price wars.
Mazda recalled thousands of sedans and sport coupes to replace a fuel system that could emit excess pollutants. The company also recalled its new model 2000 MPV minivans to fix a sliding door latch that could open unexpectedly. The fuel system recall is for 172,154 of the model 626 sedans and MX-6 sport coupes sold between 1995 and 1997. Only 238 of the minivans have been sold so far and their owners will be notified by telephone.
American Express said its second-quarter profit rose 12 percent, to $646 million, as consumers spent more with its signature green charge cards and invested more with its financial planners.
Atlantic Richfield said its second-quarter profit from operations rose 37 percent, to $302 million, as a result of higher oil prices and aggressive cost cutting.
Browning-Ferris Industries, which Allied Waste Industries is acquiring for $9.1 billion, said third-quarter income rose 13 percent, to $95.3 million. Houston-based Browning-Ferris, the second-largest U.S. trash company, said sales rose 4.8 percent, to $1.09 billion.
Ebay reported a 70 percent decline in second-quarter, but revenue and membership grew sharply. The Internet auctioneer reported quarterly profits, excluding one-time merger costs, of $5.1 million, down from $2.7 million a year ago. After one-time merger costs, the profit in the latest quarter was $816,000. Revenue was $49.5 million, up from $19.5 million a year ago.
GTE, the regional phone company that is being acquired by Bell Atlantic, said second-quarter net income rose 15 percent, to $776 million, on higher sales of data, Internet and wireless services.
Hershey Foods said second-quarter profit rose 4.4
percent, better than expected, helped by advance sales to retailers ahead of its computer systems switchover. Net income at the maker of Hershey's chocolate and Reese's and Milk Duds candies rose to $50.1 million, from $48.0 million a year ago.
Lear, the largest maker of automobile interiors and seats, said second-quarter profit rose 14 percent, to $74.8 million, because of North American demand. Year-earlier profits were reduced by a strike at General Motors.
Texaco posted a 15 percent decline in its second-quarter profit from operations, to $286 million, which it attributed to a plunge in profits on gasoline sales.
Union Carbide reported that second-quarter net income fell 53 percent, to $56 million, because of rising raw-materials costs and a loss in its basic chemicals and plastics business.
Volkswagen reported second- quarter net income of $266.9 million, up 0.8 percent, as a price war in Europe offset strong sales of the Golf. The company said unit sales of Skoda, Seat, Audi and VW cars rose 7.9 percent in the first half, to 2.54 million cars and vans from 2.35 million in the year-ago period.
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