FINANCE

Freddie Mac Ranks Among Top Lobbyists

Freddie Mac remained one of the biggest lobbyists in Washington in the first half of this year as Congress worked on legislation to revamp oversight of the federally sponsored housing finance company and its rival, Fannie Mae.

Freddie Mac's $7.3 million in lobbying expenditures placed it fifth in the preliminary rankings, after General Electric, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, the American Medical Association, and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a Web site on lobbying and campaign finance. The rankings were based on almost three quarters of the lobbying disclosure reports filed with the Senate for the first half of 2005.

CONTRACTS

Lockheed Wins Postal Job

Lockheed Martin won a contract valued at as much as $120 million from the U.S. Postal Service to improve automated recognition of handwritten and machine-printed addresses on letters. The project involves upgrades to the Remote Computer Reader system at 350 processing centers, the Bethesda-based company said. Computers read about 92 percent of all letter mail addresses, according to Lockheed, which has worked with the Postal Service for at least 10 years on remote computer reader systems.

Fieldstone Investment, a Columbia home mortgage lender, reported a third-quarter profit of $23.4 million (48 cents a share), up from $4 million (8 cents). The earnings increase was largely attributable to valuation swings in Fieldstone's portfolio of derivatives, which the company uses to hedge against interest-rate risk. Excluding the impact of derivatives, Fieldstone said it earned $15.6 million, down from $16.1 million, a decrease the company attributed to lower profitability of its loan portfolio and higher loan delinquencies. Fieldstone said revenue was $60.7 million, up from $39.1 million. The company originated more than $2.3 billion of mortgage loans in the quarter through a nationwide network of independent loan brokers and through the offices of its subsidiary, Fieldstone Mortgage.

Varsity Group, a District company that sells textbooks through the Internet, earned $14.2 million (80 cents a share), up from $7.3 million (41 cents). Revenue rose to $43 million from $32.1 million. Shares of Varsity Group rose 2 cents, to close at $5 a share.

Essex, a Columbia-based signal-processing company, said its third-quarter profit nearly quadrupled, to $2.2 million (10 cents a share) from $589,000 (4 cents) in the year-ago period. Revenue jumped 156 percent, to $42.7 million from $16.7 million.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.