American Airlines' flight attendants union said that a revote on contract concessions narrowly approved last week should begin "expeditiously" and that it will consider legal action if the company tries to implement the cuts. The Transport Workers Union also has said it will take a second vote. Meanwhile, the Allied Pilots Association, which represents 13,500 pilots at American, said a new vote on its concessions isn't needed because the union president hasn't signed the agreement. American said it has "a valid agreement" with each of the unions. New votes are being considered because American didn't disclose before the voting that it planned to pay bonuses to six top executives next year and protect part of the pensions of 45 executives if the airline sought bankruptcy. The bonuses since have been rescinded.
NYSE Denies Reports of Front-Running The New York Stock Exchange said its probe of floor traders known as specialists does not focus on front-running, a practice in which a trader buys or sells a stock to profit from advance knowledge of a transaction. Instead, the exchange is examining alleged violations of specialists' "negative obligation," the requirement that they let matching buy and sell orders trade with each other and "stand out of the way," the NYSE said, denying numerous media reports of a front-running probe. The exchange, also denying reports that the probe was started by investor complaints or firms failing NYSE audits, said one of its own analysts had initiated the probe after becoming suspicious of trading in an individual stock.
Bethlehem Steel won bankruptcy court permission to sell its assets to International Steel Group for $1.5 billion. Cleveland-based ISG, formed last spring by Wilbur Ross Jr. to revive another of the nation's steel giants, LTV, was the only major bidder for Bethlehem Steel's factories. Acquiring Bethlehem Steel's plants, including its Sparrows Point complex near Baltimore, will make ISG the country's largest integrated steelmaker.
Kmart won a federal judge's approval for its plan to come out of bankruptcy. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan Pierson Sonderby's approval will let Kmart conclude the largest retail bankruptcy in U.S. history by early next month. The plan will wipe out about $7.8 billion in debt and transfers ownership of the Troy, Mich.-based company to creditors and new investors.
NASD fined La Jolla, Calif.-based broker Altegris Investments $175,000 over the sale of hedge funds, the first action by the brokerage industry's self-regulatory body involving the marketing of these little-regulated partnerships to individual investors. Altegris failed to tell investors about the risks associated with hedge funds and for making misleading statements in brochures, NASD said. Chief Compliance Officer Robert Amedeo was fined $20,000 for not adequately supervising advertising.
Merck said it plans to spin off its Medco pharmacy-benefits management unit, which is less profitable than its core drug business. Merck stockholders will get a proportional stake in Medco if regulators and the Internal Revenue Service approve the plan.
The Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 that directors of professional corporations, such as medical practices, can be excluded from the 15-employee minimum that triggers compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. An Oregon woman sued her employer, claiming that the medical clinic's partners and shareholders should be counted as employees. The 1990 ADA exempted businesses with fewer than 15 employees but does not specify who should be considered an employee.
Air Canada can't ignore the terms of its contracts with unions and should open talks to renegotiate the agreements, said an Ontario judge overseeing the insolvent carrier's restructuring. The company's unions challenged Air Canada's use of the original creditor-protection order from Superior Court Justice James Farley to ignore contract provisions, including grievance procedures, salary increases and bonus payments to save money.
Universal Music and EMI Group sued Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, which had invested $13 million in song-swapping Web site Napster, for contributing to copyright infringement. The suit seeks $150,000 for every alleged infringement and unspecified punitive damages.
AES asked a European Union court to overturn approval of a $1.86 billion loan by the British government for British Energy, Britain's biggest electricity generator. The loan, approved in November by the European Competition Commission, hurt Arlington-based AES and other companies that compete with British Energy.
AirTran Holdings, parent of a low-fare airline that flies mainly on the East Coast, posted a first-quarter profit of $2.04 million, compared with a loss of $3.03 million a year earlier.
Amgen, the world's biggest biotechnology company, said first-quarter profit climbed 45 percent, to $493.3 million, on strong sales of the Enbrel arthritis drug and anemia medicines. Revenue climbed 75 percent, to $1.76 billion.
Charles Schwab Corp. said its first-quarter profit fell 24 percent, to $71 million, continuing a steady financial descent. Revenue fell 14 percent, to $900 million.
EBay said first-quarter profit was $104.2 million, up from $47.6 million in the first quarter of 2002. Revenue was $476.5 million, up from $245.1 million.
Eli Lilly & Co. said profit fell to $407 million, from $629.2 million in the first quarter of 2002. Sales rose 13 percent, to $2.89 billion. Excluding one-time items related to asset write-downs, reorganization expenses and other costs, profit increased 5 percent, to $661.3 million.
HCA's profit rose 22 percent in the first quarter, to $469 million, boosted by one-time gains on asset sales. Excluding those gains, earnings at the nation's largest hospital operator would have been up 8.6 percent. Revenue rose 8.2 percent, to $5.27 billion.
Kimberly-Clark, the largest U.S. maker of diapers, said first-quarter earnings fell 9.4 percent because it cut Huggies' prices to compete with Procter & Gamble. Net income dropped to $397.7 million, while revenue rose 3.9 percent, to $3.46 billion.
Occidental Petroleum said first-quarter profit surged 13-fold, to $325 million, after oil and gas output increased to a record and prices soared. Revenue rose 56 percent, to $2.37 billion.
Pfizer, the world's biggest drugmaker, said first-quarter earnings more than doubled, to $4.67 billion, as revenue increased 10 percent, to $8.53 billion. Earnings included a gain of $2.2 billion from the sale of Pfizer's Adams candy unit and Schick-Wilkinson Sword shaving-products business, as well as two product lines.
RadioShack said first-quarter profit fell 1.7 percent, to $56.6 million, after it cut prices on leftover Christmas toys and shoppers bought more lower-profit wireless telephones. Sales rose 3.5 percent, to $1.07 billion, the first increase in seven quarters.
United Parcel Service said its first-quarter profit rose 8.5 percent, to $611 million, as it benefited from an increase in overseas shipments and favorable currency-exchange rates.
Viacom rebounded to a profit in the first quarter as its CBS and MTV television networks sold more advertising. The media giant said net income was $443.1 million, compared with a loss of $1.11 billion a year earlier, when asset write-downs hurt results. Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers