DOWN 93 3/4 CENTS PER $1,000
VS. JAPANESE YEN
Orbital Sciences, the Dulles-based satellite maker, saw its stock rocket up 19 percent after it announced that it had won a NASA contract potentially worth $1.5 billion. Shares of Orbital closed at $17.56 1/4, up from $14.75 the day before. Orbital will design, produce and test small and medium-size satellites for NASA through 2004. The contract award comes on the heels of a $35 million NASA contract Orbital announced last week.
AT&T and Covad Communications, a provider of high-speed Internet connections, went to court in an effort to prevent Bell Atlantic from offering long-distance telephone service in New York state. The two companies asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District to overturn the Federal Communications Commission's Dec. 22 decision allowing Bell Atlantic into New York's long-distance market. AT&T and Covad contended that Bell Atlantic was not providing them with equal access to parts of its local network, which is a requirement under the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
Deloitte Consulting, a New York accounting firm, has been appointed to monitor the maintenance of service stations and other assets that are to be sold as part of the $81 billion merger that produced Exxon Mobil. The Federal Trade Commission said Deloitte will act as trustee for the 2,431 service stations, a Benicia, Calif., refinery, and other assets that Exxon and Mobil agreed to sell as a part of the merger.
Toyota Motor, the fourth-largest automaker in the United States, said it will raise prices on 2000-model Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks. The Japan-based automaker said it will boost average retail prices on Toyota vehicles by 0.8 percent, or $175, starting Feb. 1. Lexus prices will be increased 1.2 percent, or $454. The move follows a 1.9 percent increase on Toyotas announced in August.
A Former Merrill Lynch broker, Robert A. Schatz, has agreed to be barred from the industry for at least five years, the SEC said. He was accused of taking part in a $5.2 million scheme to manipulate the stock of now-defunct Marcorp by trading shares through 20 accounts.
National Nephrology Associates agreed to acquire Renex, a rival provider of dialysis services, for $75 million. Privately held National Nephrology, based in Nashville, owns and operates 32 dialysis centers. Renex, based in Coral Gables, Fla., provides dialysis and related services at 21 outpatient facilities and 21 hospitals.
Internet Gold said it will create a Hebrew-language Web site with Microsoft, sending shares of the Israeli Internet service provider soaring. Internet Gold said the Web site, MSN Israel, will offer Microsoft e-mail, instant messaging and other services available on Microsoft's English-language site. Internet Gold will own 50.1 percent of the new company, with Microsoft holding the rest. Internet Gold's stock closed at $28.12 1/2 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, up $13.87 1/2 from Monday's close.
Goldman Sachs Group said it will pay $500 million for an 18 percent stake in Grupo Clarin, one of Argentina's largest media companies.
D'Artagnan, a Newark gourmet meat manufacturer, expanded a recall of its products for a second time because they may be contaminated with the potentially deadly listeria virus. The company recalled several types of mousse, pate, foie gras and duck products that were distributed since Nov. 1 to specialty food stores in the Washington and New York City areas, among other U.S. and Canadian locations, as well as through catalogue and Internet sales. All recalled products bear the code "EST9678" or "P9678" inside the USDA seal of inspection.
Sodexho Marriott Services of Gaithersburg said it expects first-quarter earnings per share to be about 5 percent below analysts' consensus estimates of 46 cents to 47 cents. Sodexho said it also expects earnings per share for its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 3 to be "slightly lower" than the pro forma 45 cents per share, excluding extraordinary items, that the company reported a year ago. Sodexho, which provides outsourced food and facilities management, will release its earnings report Jan. 11. Its stock price rose 37 1/2 cents a share yesterday, closing at $14.18 3/4.
Digene, a Beltsville-based biotechnology firm, and certain stockholders sold 1.5 million shares of the company's common stock to institutional investors, raising $19.5 million. The company sold 900,000 of the 1.5 million shares, and will use the proceeds for more marketing, research and expansion of its manufacturing facilities. The sale price was $13 a share. Digene's stock fell 37 1/2 cents yesterday to close at $17.62 1/2.
Iridium, the cash-strapped District-based company that is trying to attract new investors, said revenue from the use of its satellite-telephones rose 8.3 percent last month, to $1.3 million. That figure excludes phone sales by Iridium's distributors.