Sales of personal computers surged 22 percent worldwide last year, and Dell Computer surpassed rival Compaq in U.S. sales for the first time, research firms Dataquest and International Data reported. Dell sold 7.02 million PCs in the United States in 1999, a 16 percent share of the market. Compaq, which remained first in global sales, sold 6.86 million computers domestically, a 15.7 percent share, down from 16.1 percent in 1998. Direct seller Gateway was No. 3 in domestic sales with 9.1 percent of the market, up from 8.4 percent, followed by Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Apple Computer.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has told its staff that it will appeal a ruling instructing it to let its employees vote on whether the National Treasury Employees Union should be allowed to establish a single, nationwide bargaining unit. The Federal Labor Relations Authority made the ruling Jan. 7. The SEC said it wants to preserve the ability of its regional and district offices to set personnel policies, and it favors a number of separate units to bargain with management.
American Express announced a preliminary $215 million settlement of claims that it misled people into buying insurance products without fully disclosing fees. The company also reported a 14 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit, to $606 million, from $530 million in the same period a year ago, on the strength of its charge-card and investment-management businesses.
Publishers Clearing House was sued by New York and 15 other states that alleged deceptive advertising, bringing to 25 the number of states that have sued the Port Washington, N.Y., company. Neither Maryland nor Virginia is among the 25 states. The company, which sells magazine subscriptions and other merchandise through direct mail solicitation, had been negotiating a settlement with New York when it learned of the new suit.
Healtheon/WebMD, the largest online provider of health-care services and information, said it will buy Envoy, the electronic claims-processing business of Quintiles Transnational, for about $2.5 billion in stock and cash. Healtheon, started by Netscape founder Jim Clark, was created through a four-way, $6 billion merger in November. In December, it bought the electronic transaction business of Electronic Data Systems and Eli Lilly for $300 million.
T-bill rates were mixed. The Treasury sold $7.5 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 5.385 percent, up from 5.350 percent last week. An additional $6.5 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 5.520 percent, down from 5.535 percent. The actual return to investors is 5.549 percent for three-month bills with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,863.90 and 5.774 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,720.90. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes to adjustable-rate mortgages, rose slightly to 6.13 percent last week from 6.12 percent the previous week.
K2 of Los Angeles is recalling about 12,000 pairs of Flight ALX in-line skates because plastic brake mounts could crack and cause skaters to fall, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. The recall applies to model numbers S00161 and S00162, sold from August to November for about $200. The commission advised consumers to return the skates to the store where they were purchased for free replacements. It said it knows of no injuries.
Senor Felix Mexican Foods has recalled three varieties of dip that may be contaminated with a bacteria that causes intestinal illness. The dips were distributed nationwide primarily through Costco and Trader Joe's grocery stores, the California Department of Health Services said. They are: Senor Felix's 5-Layer Fiesta Dip, Delicioso 5-Layer Fiesta Dip and Trader Joe's 5-Layer Fiesta Dip. The recall applies to products prepared without preservatives with an expiration date of Feb. 9 or earlier and products prepared with preservatives with an expiration date of March 4 or earlier. A Senor Felix spokesman said consumers should return the dips to where they bought them or call the dip manufacturer at 1-800-807-7335.
Eastman Kodak said fourth-quarter operating income rose 21 percent, to $403 million, from a year earlier, thanks to deep cost cuts and strong film sales worldwide. For the year, net income was flat at $1.4 billion.
Texas Instruments said fourth-quarter profit climbed 67 percent as the chip company benefited from rising demand for wireless equipment. Profit from operations rose to $538 million, from $323 million a year earlier. Excluding amortization and acquisition-related expenses, Texas Instruments said profit would have been $564 million.
Bell Atlantic said fourth-quarter profit rose 12 percent, to $1.22 billion, as customers flocked to its wireless telephone and fast-data transmission services.
Walt Disney Co. said its fiscal first-quarter profit rose 7 percent, $515 million, on growth at its theme park and television units. The profit figure excludes the company's interest in its publicly traded Internet unit Go.com, which will report a "substantial" loss in early February, Disney said.