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Executive Business Briefing

April 25, 2002 at 7:38 AM   |   Comments

Here is a look at Thursday's top business stories:


Stocks ease in Tokyo

TOKYO, April 25 (UPI) -- Stock prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange ended slightly lower in directionless trading, pressured by weakness in semiconductor issues.

Stocks rose in Hong Kong, but fell in Seoul, South Korea and Taipei, Taiwan. Markets in Australia were closed for the Anzac Day holiday. Trading will resume on Friday.

Japan's blue-chip Nikkei Stock Average of 225 selective issues, which lost 63.95 points Wednesday, slipped another 24.16 points, or 0.2 percent, to 11,648.72. The broader Topix index eased 0.40 points, or 0.04 percent, to 1,098.32.

Declines outpaced advances 755 to 567 while another 170 issues settled unchanged.

Volume dropped to an estimated 750.87 million shares from 818.33 million shares changing hands on Wednesday.

Analysts said profit taking in chip related issues pulled the market lower, but encouraging earnings forecasts by Toshiba and Fujitsu cushioned the fall.

The long-awaited earnings announcements by Toshiba and Fujitsu in the last hour of trading indicated earnings improvements for both companies in the current fiscal year.

However, most investors have yet to evaluate the extent of the reported improvements and react fully in the market, traders said.

With announcements by Sony, NEC and other technology companies still to come later, investors are expected to start factoring in earnings prospects for the tech sector as early as Friday, experts said.

In trading, Tokyo Electron sank 4.5 percent and semiconductor equipment maker Advantest dropped 4.7 percent.

Toshiba jumped 4.9 percent after beating market projections and announcing it expects a dramatic profit turnaround this year due to cost cuts from restructuring and an upturn in the global semiconductor market.

Fujitsu rose 1.4 percent after initial uncertainty on the company's break-even projection for this fiscal year. Fujitsu said it expects to improve profitability thanks to strong growth in its mainline software service operations and cost savings from large-scale restructuring launched last fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Sony added 1.9 percent and NEC rose 0.8 percent ahead of their earnings reports.

Elsewhere in Asia, prices on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange ended slightly higher but gains were limited by profit taking following a strong rally over the past two trading sessions. The blue chip Hang Seng Index rose 12.72 points, or 0.11 percent, to 11409.29.

Analysts said the property sector came under some profit taking pressure after strong gains recently.

In trading, New World Development fell 1.5 percent, Sino Land lost 0.8 percent and Hysan Development lost 1.2 percent.

In the telecom sector, China Mobile rose 1.6 percent and rival China Unicom eased 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, prices ended lower on the South Korean Stock Exchange. The Kospi Composite Index sank 43.11 points, or 4.71 percent, to 872.58.

Investors rushed to sell LG group firms' shares after LG Chemical announced it had sold a stake in LG Investment & Securities and bought a stake in LG Petrochemical.

LG Chemical said it sold a 4.3 percent stake in LG Investment and Securities, and bought a 13.9 percent sake in LG Petrochemical. Investors gave the thumbs down to the news, thinking the reshuffle might bring confusion to LG group's management.

LG Chemical plunged 12.6 percent and LG Investment sank 9.1 percent, while LG Petrochemical was down 11.5 percent.

Major chipmakers also fell. Samsung Electronics, the world's largest maker of computer memory chips, fell 4.4 percent. Semiconductor parts maker Mirae sank 5.4 percent.

Elsewhere around the region, prices ended lower on the Taiwan Stock Exchange as both chipmakers and banks lost ground. The Weighted Index lost 99.80 points, or 1.55 percent, to 6,355.59.

In trading, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing fell 3.2 percent, United Microelectronics lost 2.7 percent and Taiwan Business Bank sank 6.7 percent.


Tyco posts $1.9 billion loss, cut jobs

PEMBROKE, Bermuda, April 25 (UPI) -- Tyco International Inc. posted a second quarter loss of $1.9 billion, breaking a 10-year run of quarterly earnings improvement, as it took a $3.3 billion charge while abandoning its plan to split into four separate companies.

Tyco, which makes a wide variety of products ranging from diapers to burglar alarms, reported a second quarter loss for the period ended March 31 of $1.9 billion, or 96 cents a share, compared with a net income of $1.14 billion, or 64 cents a share during the same period a year earlier.

Revenue fell to $8.66 billion from $8.89 billion in a year ago.

The results included $3.3 billion in charges, mostly from writing down the value of its TyCom Global Network, an undersea fiber optic cable operation.

Tyco also said it has abandoned its plan to split into four separate companies, lowered its full-year earnings forecast and announced it would cut 7,100 jobs.

Tyco said it will take finance arm CIT public through an initial public offering. It also will not sell its plastics business as planned.

Tyco's remaining businesses will remain united as the conglomerate moves to reduce its balance sheet debt. The company said its earnings were hurt by the severe downturn in the telecommunications and electronics markets. Results also were "impacted by reduced revenues and substantial costs incurred as a result of the wave of rumors and misleading press reports during the past quarter," the company said, as well as from uncertainties arising from the announced break-up plan which distracted employees, customers and vendors.

L. Dennis Kozlowski, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "I am disappointed that our 10 year, 40 quarter string of consistent earnings improvements has been broken. While our results before charges are in line with our previously stated expectations for the quarter, we met those expectations with a lower tax rate for the quarter.

"While we cannot precisely quantify the distraction costs, their impact is obvious in segment margins and is particularly frustrating. I believe that they are contained and should fade in the coming quarters, but they are likely to approximate 25 to 30 cents per share as opposed to the 5 to 10 cents per share that we had initially projected," Kozlowski said.

Looking ahead, Kozlowski said the near-term outlook remained difficult and while there are some signs the electronics markets may improve, the rebound likely will be slower than anticipated.

The company also said because of the fierce decline in the telecommunications market, coupled with the bankruptcies of virtually all of its sub-sea competitors and the subsequent market valuation of their assets, it plans to close 24 facilities and cut 7,100 employees.

Tyco also is reducing its earnings per share and free cash flow guidance for fiscal 2002. Earnings per share are expected to be in a range of $2.60 to $2.70, before charges, and 98 cents to $1.08 after impairment, restructuring, and other unusual charges.

The earnings estimate reflects continued downturn in the electronics and telecommunications markets as well as some lingering disruption costs, the company noted.

Free cash flow, after deducting spending on the TGN, is expected to approximate $900 million to $1.1 billion in the third quarter of fiscal 2002 and $3 billion to $3.5 billion for the full fiscal year.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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