Austin American-Statesman Business Digest column
Feb 21, 2013 (Austin American-Statesman - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
HP's 1st quarter numbers improve; stock surges
SAN FRANCISCO -- Slumping personal computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co.'s latest quarterly results provided a glimmer of hope after months of gloomy news.
The fiscal first-quarter numbers announced Thursday topped the forecast of HP's own management, as well as stock market analysts.
That's an about-face from the previous two quarters, when HP announced losses totaling $15.3 billion as the company accounted for past acquisitions gone awry, to the shock of Wall Street.
Like other PC makers, HP has also been struggling to adapt to a shift toward smartphones and tablet computers, which are siphoning sales away from desktop and laptop machines made by HP and other companies.
Those problems are still plaguing HP, but the signs of progress in the latest quarter indicated that the company's turnaround efforts are running ahead of schedule. CEO Meg Whitman has consistently said it may be several years before HP is on solid ground again.
Rebel Apple investor tries to rally shareholders
A Wall Street maverick who wants Apple Inc. to share more of its wealth with investors took his case to other shareholders Thursday, urging them to send management a message by voting against a company proposal at the upcoming annual meeting.
On a conference call with investors and reporters, David Einhorn, founder of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, laid out the case for something he calls "iPrefs," a class of dividend-bearing preferred stock. He wants Apple to issue these shares free to shareholders as way of committing to use its massive profits for the benefit of shareholders.
Right now, Apple hands only a small amount of its profits to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks. The rest of the money goes in the bank, where Apple's cash hoard amounted to $137 billion at the end of last year.
United Airlines drops 787 through June 5
United Airlines cut the grounded Boeing 787 from its flying plans at least until June and postponed its new Denver-to-Tokyo flights on Thursday, as airlines continued to tear up their schedules while the plane is out of service.
Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a battery fire in one plane and forced the emergency landing of another plane last month. The world's 50 787s have been grounded since Jan. 16.
United spokeswoman Christen David said the plane could still fly earlier than June 5 if a fix is found. At that point it would be used as needed around United's system, she said.
4 indicted in tainted peanut butter case
Four former peanut company employees have been charged with scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine, sickened hundreds and prompted one of the largest recalls in history.
The indictment by a federal grand jury in Georgia is a rare move by the federal government after an outbreak connected to food. Justice Department officials said Thursday it serves as a warning to food manufacturers who may compromise consumer safety in search of higher profits.
The 76-count indictment was unsealed late Wednesday in federal court in Albany, Ga. It accuses Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, his brother Michael Parnell and Georgia plant manager Samuel Lightsey with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead. Michael Parnell was a food broker who worked with the company.
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