America Online has launched InStore, an online comparison-shopping site (www.in-store.com). With its subscriber base dwindling, the site is part of the Dulles-based firm's strategy of reaching beyond its members to profit from ads and merchandise sold to other Internet users.
"InStore will capitalize on the opportunity to use the increasing power of search, the speed and rich media capabilities of broadband and improved personalization tools to take the experience to the next level," Michael J. Kelly, president of AOL Media Networks, said in a prepared statement.
* Coventry Health Care of Bethesda said Allen F. Wise, its president and chief executive, will step down Jan. 1. Coventry's board named its executive vice president and chief financial officer, Dale B. Wolf, to succeed Wise.
Wise will become chairman of the board. Current board chairman John A. Austin will remain on the board.
During Wise's eight years as president, Coventry's membership grew from 866,000 to 2.5 million, and its annual revenue rose from $1 billion to $5 billion, largely due to acquisitions. It is now the largest health care company based in the Washington area, with operations in the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast and the Midwest.
Wolf, who worked for Wise for the past eight years, said he has no plans to change course. "We've sort of developed a strategy over a period of years together and we're going to keep on doing it," he said.
* Dittberner Associates, a Bethesda-based telecom consultant, merged with Technology Research Institute, a Pennsylvania research firm that focuses on telecom billing and related business. Terms were not disclosed. Dittberner, which was founded in 1966, has 70 telecom service providers and more than 100 telecom suppliers as clients.
* TeleCommunication Systems, an Annapolis-based developer of wireless data technology, said it would buy Kivera, an Oakland, Calif., maker of wireless and Internet-based software. Terms were not disclosed.
Kivera customers include Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, Cingular and Sun Microsystems. Kivera expects about $5 million in revenue this year.
* Opnet Technologies of Bethesda said it would acquire New Hampshire-based Altaworks, a developer of technologies designed to improve the performance of large-scale IT networks. The price was not disclosed. Opnet said it plans to integrate Altaworks' technology into its products and will make the company a subsidiary.
Founded in 1999, Altaworks raised $35 million in venture capital from investors including Vesbridge Partners, Prism Venture Partners and YankeeTek Ventures.
* Lockheed Martin of Bethesda said it signed a license agreement with HMT Vehicles, a British truck-maker, to sell light and medium-size vehicles to the U.S., Mexican and Canadian governments. The trucks will be built in Owego, N.Y.
* American Capital Strategies, a Bethesda buyout fund, invested $65 million in BarrierSafe Solutions International, which owns Microflex and FoodHandler, companies that make disposable gloves.
* The Rowe Companies, a McLean furniture manufacturer and home-furnishings retailer, said that while sales exceeded expectations, earnings for its fiscal third quarter ended Aug. 29 will be lower than anticipated because of manufacturing inefficiency.
* Performance Food Group, a Richmond food distributor, said it hired investment bankers Goldman, Sachs & Co. to advise it on what to do with its fresh-cut produce division. The company said it is considering selling the division, spinning it off or keeping it.
The division buys, processes, packages and distributes ready-to-eat salads and other produce to retailers, distributors and restaurant operators.
The unit includes the Fresh Express brand. It had sales of $933 million last year.
Performance's Food's stock price fell 9 percent this month after the chief executive of the unit, G. Thomas Lovelace Jr., stepped down. The unit contributed 17 percent of the company's revenue last year.