Here is a look at more of Tuesday's top business stories:
Business inventories post first decline since April
WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The Commerce Department said inventories at U.S. factories, wholesalers and stores posted their first decline in August since April, slipping 0.1 percent after rising 0.4 percent in July.
Economists had expected business inventories to rise 0.2 percent during the month.
The decline in inventories sent the inventory-to-sales ratio, a key gauge of the time goods sit on store shelves, to 1.34 months from 1.35 in July.
The Commerce Department also said sales at U.S. businesses rose 0.2 percent after rising 1.3 percent a month earlier.
The government agency said retail inventories, which account for about one-fourth of business stockpiles fell 0.3 percent in August after rising 0.8 percent in July. Retail sales rose 0.6 percent after increasing 1.4 percent.
The report showed inventories at auto dealers fell 0.5 percent and slipped 0.3 percent at department stores in August. At building materials stores, inventories rose 0.1 percent after falling 0.2 percent.
Wholesale inventories, which make up about one-fourth of the business inventories report, rose 0.2 percent in August after rising 0.6 percent in July. Sales rose 0.9 percent after rising 0.7 percent a month earlier.
Earnings rise 19 percent at Johnson & Johnson
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Johnson & Johnson, a component of the Dow Jones industrial average, said its third-quarter net income rose 19 percent to $1.8 billion, or 60 cents a share, from $1.5 billion, or 49 cents a share during the same period last year.
Analysts on Wall Street had been expected the company to report a net income of 59 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.
Revenue rose 13 percent to $9.1 billion while worldwide prescription drug sales climbed 16 percent to $4.3 billion thanks to strong performances from medications to treat anemia, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia.
Worldwide sales of medical devices and diagnostics increased 13 percent to $3.1 billion. The company's consumer products division lagged the others in growth, as revenue from that segment rose 3 percent to $1.7 billion.
William C. Weldon, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "I am delighted with our strong sales performance and continued ability to deliver double-digit earnings growth.
"Of particular note is the broad-based growth in our medical devices and diagnostics segment as well as the ongoing strength of our pharmaceutical business," he said.
Losses widen at Delta
ATLANTA, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Delta Air Lines, the nation's third-largest airline, said its third-quarter net loss widened to $330 million, or $2.67 a share, from $262 million, or $2.13 a share during the same period last year.
Revenues declined to $3.42 billion from $3.40 billion a year ago.
Analysts on Wall Street had expected Delta to report a loss of $1.84 a share, according to Thomson First Call.
Delta said excluding unusual items, it posted a third-quarter net loss of $212 million, or $1.75 a share in the latest quarter.
The airline also announced changes to its fleet plan for 2003 and 2004 that will reduce operating costs, capital expenditures and capacity.
Leo F. Mullin, chairman and chief executive officer, said, "Clearly, today's results are disappointing. Our industry is experiencing unprecedented financial challenges.
"As we have done for the past year, Delta will maintain tight control of all facets of our business and make the difficult but necessary decisions to ensure that our airline makes it successfully through these challenging times," Mullin said.
M. Michele Burns, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, "We will continue to manage costs and liquidity while maintaining our financial flexibility. We are working to stay ahead of the business environment rather than allow these challenges to control our decisions."
Delta said it is grounding all MD-11 aircraft and deferring all deliveries of mainline aircraft to the fleet in 2003 and 2004.
The airline said these actions will reduce domestic capacity, operating costs through fleet simplification, and $1.3 billion in capital expenditures over the 2-year period.
Delta also said it will continue to review its non-performing markets including the cancellation of flights to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.
The airline said beginning early in 2003 it will begin to remove its 15 MD-11 aircraft from operations. Twelve of the MD-11's will be removed by summer of 2003.
Delta said these MD-11 aircraft will be replaced on international routes by B767-300ER aircraft which are currently used in the domestic system. The domestic flying by the B767 aircraft will be flown by smaller mainline aircraft, which will reduce Delta's domestic capacity by 2 percent when the changes are fully implemented.
The remaining three MD-11 aircraft will be removed in early 2004. These aircraft will be replaced by existing B777 aircraft.
In addition, Delta said it has deferred all its deliveries of mainline aircraft, or 29 planes, in 2003 and 2004.
"Delta has reached agreement with Boeing to reschedule delivery of these deferred aircraft," Burns said. "We appreciate the partnership with Boeing in making these difficult but necessary decisions."
Northwest Air closes facility and reservations center, cuts jobs
ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Northwest Airlines Corp., the nation's fourth-largest airline, said it will close its Atlanta aircraft maintenance and engine facility, and its reservations center in Long Beach, Calif., eliminating 100 management positions.
The airline, which earlier this month it would cut up to 1,600 flight attendant jobs, said most of the 1,450 employees at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport maintenance and engine facility will be eligible for transfer to other Northwest Airlines facilities.
The airline performs the majority of its DC-9 maintenance in Atlanta at a facility that also houses engine maintenance and repair for the airline's 727-200 fleet.
Long Beach is one of seven reservations call centers the airline operates in the United States. Other reservations centers are located at Baltimore; Chisholm, Minn.; Detroit; Minneapolis; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla.
Northwest said the approximately 250 Long Beach reservationists also will be eligible to transfer to the airline's other reservations facilities.
In addition, Northwest said it will close city ticket offices at New York/Manhattan on 6th Avenue; Bloomington, Minnesota's Mall of America; and San Jose, Calif.
As the result of these actions, approximately 100 management positions will be eliminated in Atlanta and Long Beach.
Richard Anderson, chief executive officer, said, "It is very difficult to close the Atlanta and Long Beach facilities, and ask our employees in those locations to relocate. However, it is another necessary step to ensure that our operation is as efficient as possible and that the future of Northwest Airlines is secure."
The airline said DC-9 maintenance and engine activity currently completed at Atlanta will be transferred to the Northwest facility at Minneapolis during the next three months. Northwest will be able to perform the same level of airframe and engine maintenance using two facilities -- Duluth and Minneapolis -- rather than three.
The Long Beach reservations center will close in December of this year. Northwest's six other reservations call centers will handle calls previously routed to Southern California.
Charles Schwab reports higher results
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Charles Schwab Corp., the nation's largest discount brokerage, said its third-quarter operating net income rose to $96 million, or 7 cents a share, from $81 million, or 6 cents a share during the same period last year.
Including special items like restructuring charges, the company posted a loss of $4 million.
Analysts on Wall Street had been expecting the company to report operating results of 7 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.
Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer Charles R. Schwab commented, "Investor confidence continued to be weighed down by persistent securities market declines, concerns about corporate governance and geopolitical worries. Despite the challenging environment, our full-choice capabilities continue to help build new and stronger client relationships.
"Clients opened 160,000 new accounts during the third quarter and we ended the period with 8.0 million active accounts, up 3 percent from a year ago. In addition, new and existing clients brought a total of $11 billion in net new assets to the firm during the quarter. Reflecting the recent double-digit percentage declines in the broad market indices, total client assets were $727 billion at month-end September 2002, down 5 percent from the year-ago level," he said.
The firm said July's temporary surge in client trading activity and the continued growth of its fixed income offering helped to increase its trading-related revenues in the third quarter.
Commissions and principal transaction revenues were both 12 percent higher than their respective year-earlier levels.