DEFENSE

General Dynamics, Union Agree on Contract

Falls Church-based General Dynamics and union leaders said they agreed on a contract for the defense contractor's 1,200 union employees in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The United Auto Workers said it is withholding details of the deal pending ratification by its members.

General Dynamics spokesman Pete Keating confirmed that there was a tentative agreement but said the company also is not offering further information until the deal is ratified.

Ratification meetings are scheduled for this weekend.

AIRLINES

US Airways Sells Debt

US Airways Group said it sold $777 million in debt, mostly government-backed, to 13 fixed-income investors.

US Airways and its new owner, America West Airlines, were granted the loans in the period of industry fallout after the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

The loans' outstanding balance is $832 million, with $55 million held by two other investors.

LaSalle Hotel Properties of Bethesda, a real estate investment trust that owns hotels, reported funds from operations of $24.1 million in its third quarter, up from $17.8 million in the comparable quarter last year. The company reported a profit of $15.1 million (37 cents a share) on $110.5 million in revenue, up from $13.2 million (35 cents) on $82 million.

Harman International Industries, a District-based maker of high-end audio equipment, earned $54 million (79 cents) in its fiscal first quarter ended Sept. 30, up from $33.7 million (48 cents). Revenue rose 9 percent, to $755 million from $692 million. The company cited the launch of sales for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and for the Mercedes-Benz S Class automobile in Europe.

Columbia Bancorp, a Howard County-based commercial bank, said third-quarter profit increased 18.4 percent and total loans rose 10.8 percent to more than $1 billion. Columbia earned $4.2 million (58 cents), up from $3.5 million (48 cents). Total assets grew 10.8 percent, to $1.3 billion. Columbia agreed in July to be acquired by Pennsylvania's Fulton Financial for about $313 million in cash and stock, a deal expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2006.

Cardinal Financial, a Fairfax-based banking company, said third-quarter earnings rose 677 percent, largely because of a more profitable loan portfolio and the acquisition of a mortgage banking company. Cardinal earned $3 million (12 cents), up from $384,000 (2 cents). The company's return on average assets -- a key measure of bank profitability -- in the third quarter was 0.82 percent, below the average for its peer group, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. The company has been growing its loan portfolio to increase profitability, increasing loans 44 percent in the past year, to $632.1 million. Total assets on Sept. 30 were $1.5 million, up 31 percent.

CoStar Group, a Bethesda-based real estate research firm, said its third-quarter profit fell to $1.1 million from $2.4 million. The results included a $2.2 million restructuring charge for the closure of its office in Mason, Ohio. Revenue rose nearly 20 percent, to $34.3 million, as the company won 63 more real estate firms as customers.

Compiled from staff and news service reports