Arlington's Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc. agreed to pay $125,000 to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that the firm failed to disclose a payment it had received in exchange for publishing research about Arena Pharmaceuticals in 2001. The SEC said Friedman received $100,000 from the lead underwriter of Arena's secondary offering. An FBR spokesman said the analyst who issued the two research reports in question is no longer with the firm and that the firm regrets the incident.
Brazilian Regulators Fine Microsoft
Microsoft was fined by Brazil's antitrust regulator the equivalent of 10 percent of its 1998 sales to the federal government for illegal practices. The regulator alleges that Microsoft manipulated the criteria to choose a single representative to handle contracts with the government, said Roberto Pfeiffer, a member of the board. IOS, a Brazilian company, filed the complaint with the antitrust regulator. Microsoft can appeal the decision, Pfeiffer said.
Computer Associates shareholders overwhelmingly voted against a proposal that called for the company to recoup compensation given to executives implicated in its accounting scandal. The scandal has resulted in the resignation of its chief executive, Sanjay Kumar, as well as the firing of a slew of executives.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is demanding details on Bank of America's recent firing of hundreds of former Fleet Bank employees, saying the layoffs could violate an agreement made to assure state regulatory approval of the merger. Under that agreement, every "customer facing employee" who worked for Fleet in Massachusetts would remain in the same position after the merger, according to Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. Bank of America laid off an unspecified number of employees last week at hundreds of Fleet branches, a byproduct of the merger, a company spokeswoman said last week.
The Securities and Exchange Commission sued JB Oxford Holdings, a small brokerage and clearing company, and three of its executives for allegedly helping customers from as far away as Switzerland improperly trade fund shares. JB Oxford unit National Clearing and its former chief executive, James G. Lewis, are among those accused of helping facilitate thousands of so-called "late trades" in more than 600 mutual funds. The defendants are also accused of concealing "market timing" trades from the mutual funds whose shares were involved.
Northwest Airlines sued Sabre for breach of contract, accusing it of unfairly making it more difficult for travel agents to view Northwest's flights and sell its tickets. Sabre, which distributes route and fare data to agents, made the change in its system after Northwest announced it would begin charging fees to customers who don't book through its Web site. Sabre said Northwest's decision violates an agreement to offer Sabre customers the same fare as those who book on Northwest's site.
Sprint will offer computer-based phone service to more than 2 million Mediacom Communications cable customers starting next year. Mediacom will sell phone service in 23 states as part of a product bundle to include Internet access and cable television, and Sprint will make the phone call connections, executives said. Sprint has a similar partnership with Time Warner's cable division.
Wachovia, the fifth-largest U.S. bank, won antitrust clearance to purchase SouthTrust for $14.3 billion after agreeing to sell 18 SouthTrust branches, the Justice Department said. The takeover, which still needs approval from the Federal Reserve Board, would enable Wachovia, based in Charlotte, to expand into nine states, including Florida.
WorldCom former chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers, 62, accused of orchestrating an $11 billion fraud that led to the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history, wants his trial, scheduled for Nov. 9, moved to Mississippi from New York, according to court records. Ebbers, who lives in Mississippi, pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy in March.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board tightened federal rules that require companies to count in their financial report the costs of cleaning up asbestos and oil contamination and of closing power plants. Although some companies, such as Exxon, had already changed to the new standard, others had been deferring such costs for years, until the remedial work took place. Under the rule, any company that has a legally required remediation or power plant decommission cost must determine the market value of the cleanup, estimate when it will be done and begin logging the costs.
Home Depot has agreed to settle discrimination claims brought by workers for $5.5 million, the company said. Workers at some stores in Colorado alleged that the home-improvement chain discriminated against them based on sex, race and national origin, and some alleged that they were retaliated against for claiming employment discrimination. The Atlanta company said it does not think it engaged in workplace misconduct but agreed to the payout as part of voluntary mediation, saying it wants to avoid protracted and costly litigation.
General Motors, which replaced the head of its Hummer brand this month, is cutting orders for the H2 sport-utility vehicle as much as 5 percent after the model's sales fell 22 percent between January and July, as gasoline prices reached record highs. Demand for the vehicle is running at about 25,000 a year and capacity is about 40,000.
A Royal/Dutch Shell subsidiary has been ordered by Nigeria's Senate to pay a Nigerian ethnic group, the Ijaw people, $1.5 billion for oil spills in their homelands since 1956, but the legislative body can't enforce the resolution, a Nigerian Senate spokesman said.
Mitsubishi Motors said it is reviewing its alliance with DaimlerChrysler, including their cooperation in manufacturing mid-size sedans. DaimlerChrysler decided in April not to invest more cash in Mitsubishi to support the ailing Japanese automaker's restructuring plan. Mitsubishi said in a brief statement that it would continue to cooperate with DaimlerChrysler in areas that were mutually beneficial.
Adelphia Communications said it lost $36.4 million in July, compared with $25 million the month before. The cable television company is required to report earnings monthly while operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
American Woodmark of Winchester said strong home sales in the first quarter of its fiscal year boosted sales of its kitchen cabinets and vanities. Earnings rose to $9.7 million ($1.16 a share) during the quarter ended July 31 from $7.5 million (90 cents) a year earlier. Revenue rose 21 percent, to $187.5 million from $154.9 million. The company's stock rose $5.51, to $67.30.
Bombardier, a Montreal maker of planes and trains, had net income of $23 million for the second quarter ended July 21, a 66 percent tumble. The latest results included a charge, before taxes, of $5 million for severance, site closings and other restructuring.
J.M. Smucker reported a 27 percent increase in first-quarter earnings, to $32.8 million, helped by the recent addition of International Multifoods. Sales were $415.8 million, compared with $341.9 million a year ago, helped by the Jif brands, the addition of Hungry Jack and Uncrustables products, as well as the Pillsbury and Martha White brands.
Toll Brothers, a Huntingdon Valley, Pa., home builder, said third-quarter profit rose 56 percent, to $106 million, as demand for new luxury homes remained strong. Revenue rose 46 percent, to $1.01 billion, while home and land sales rose 46 percent and 69 percent, respectively.
Williams-Sonoma said second-quarter profit jumped 55 percent, as sales surged at its Pottery Barn and outlet stores. The San Francisco home-products retailer had a net income of $27.6 million for the quarter ended Aug. 1, up from $17.8 million during the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose 19 percent, to $689.6 million from $580.4 million.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.