SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. warned people against investing in initial public stock offerings, saying the risk of losing money in the long run outweighed the possibility of big early gains. "I'm worried about investors making short-term judgments and firms [hyping] . . . hot new issues," the Securities and Exchange Commission chief said.

IBM said it will provide Barnes & Noble and the technology and manufacturing components to print books at the bookseller's distribution centers. Terms were not disclosed. The equipment--software, workflow and printer technologies, and servers that can print a book within five minutes--will allow Barnes & Noble to increase the number of books available without having to expand its inventory, the companies said.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said the administration is prepared to act to drive down oil prices if they continue to drift toward "dangerously high levels." He declined to discuss what price might trigger U.S. action or what options the administration is considering. Possible actions include releasing some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and stepping up efforts to get some producing nations--particularly Venezuela, Mexico and Saudi Arabia--to increase production, analysts said.

A federal judge in Washington found Smith International and Schlumberger guilty of criminal contempt for forming a joint venture in violation of a 1994 consent decree with the Justice Department. The companies will hand over $1.5 million in criminal fines and $13.1 million to settle a civil contempt case.

The Treasury Department and the IRS issued a notice that they are disallowing the "bond and option sales strategy" (BOSS) corporate tax shelter, which involves the use of foreign corporations and debt-encumbered securities to create artificial tax losses. "As we become aware of these shelters we are going to shut them down as quickly as possible," Treasury's Jonathan Talisman said, but he added that legislation is also needed.

American Home Products has approached advisers to Pharmacia & Upjohn, suggesting a takeover if American Home's merger with Warner-Lambert fails, the Financial Times reported. American Home is competing with Pfizer to buy Warner-Lambert. Most analysts are betting Pfizer's higher bid will eventually win the battle. The takeover fight is now in a Delaware court as all three companies have sued each other.

Coca-Cola doesn't need a major shakeup to regain its reputation as one of the world's most solid companies, next chief Douglas Daft said. Daft will replace M. Douglas Ivester, who resigned Sunday. The Australian-born Daft, who previously ran the company's Africa, Middle East and Far East divisions, said he doesn't plan to change Coke's growth strategy.


Global semiconductor sales surged 23.3 percent in October, to a record $13.4 billion, the Semiconductor Industry Association said. Sales so far this year have risen 15.6 percent, surpassing the association's 14.7 percent forecast. The growth is being driven by the surge of wired and wireless information appliances and Internet infrastructure products.

Royal Ahold said it will buy a 50 percent stake in ICA Group of Sweden, Scandinavia's largest food retailer, in a deal that will make the Dutch company Europe's biggest food seller in terms of sales. Ahold, which owns the Giant Food supermarket chain in the United States, said it will pay $1.83 billion for the stake. The deal will add 3,100 stores to Ahold's worldwide network and boost annual sales by $6.8 billion, the company said.

Nortel Networks, a Canadian maker of telecommunications equipment, is close to a deal to buy Qtera, a Boca Raton, Fla., maker of optical networking equipment, for up to $3.5 billion in stock, sources said.


Gap recalled 231,000 pairs of children's pajamas that failed to meet federal flammability standards and pose a risk of serious burns. The clothing retailer has not received any reports of injuries related to the pajamas, which were sold in GapKids, BabyGap, Gap Outlet and Old Navy stores from August 1999 until this month. The Consumer Product Safety Commission cautioned that children should not be allowed to wear the pajamas. The clothes can be returned to any Gap or Old Navy store for a refund. Consumers can call 1-800-GAP-STYLE or 1-800-OLD-NAVY or go to Web sites at or for more information.

Ford is recalling more than 390,000 cars and light trucks to fix a variety of potential problems, federal regulators said. The company is recalling 315,000 1998-model Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique compact sedans, 27,260 1999-2000-model Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Continental cars, 24,600 1996-model Contour and Mystique cars, and an estimated 24,000 Ford Super Duty F-Series pickup trucks. Ford said no reports of injuries or accidents were reported in any of its recalls.


National Semiconductor, one of the biggest makers of semiconductors for mobile phones, reported a fiscal second-quarter profit after six money-losing quarters as chip sales rose and costs fell. Profit from operations in the quarter ended Nov. 28 was $70.4 million, compared with a loss from operations of $48.6 million a year earlier.


Iridium, the Washington-based satellite telephone company whose shortage of customers has landed it in bankruptcy court protection, said its investors have supplied $20 million to allow it to continue service while it negotiates a financial reorganization. Motorola, the satellite venture's largest investor, is seeking to persuade other investors to contribute in the effort, Iridium said. Iridium plans to file a motion today asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York to approve the funding arrangement, the firm said.

CAPTION: Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says the United States is ready to act on high oil prices.