Altoona Mirror, February 15, 2001, Page 9

Publication: Altoona Mirror February 15, 2001

Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - February 15, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Altoona mirror Business people Walt Frank 946-7467 Business trends Craig Williams 946-7460 business ab MARKET SUMMARY THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2001 Appleton eyes employee buyout By Craig Williams Staff Writer ROARING SPRING — The Appleton Paper mill could have a new owner if a proposed employee buyout occurs. Employees at the Roaring Spring mill and at the company’s four other North American facilities were told Tuesday that a plan is being formed that will give them a chance to control their own destiny through an employee stock ownership plan. Though terms of the sale have yet to be worked out, Appleton Papers’ managers said Wednesday that they are working on a deal where employee investments and borrowings from financial institutions would be used to fund the purchase. “It’s happening awfully fast,’’ said Larry Grace, president of the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical and Energy union Local 422 at the Roaring Spring mill, about a proposed employee purchase of Appleton’s North American operations — Appleton and Portage, Wis.; West Carrollton, Ohio; and Harrisburg and Roaring Spring — from its European owners. Headquartered in Appleton, Wis., the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aijo Wiggins Appleton, based in Great Britain. The parent company was bought by its major shareholder, Worms & Cie. Grace said the buyout is a rare treat in that the company is just coming off a period of expansion, and employees will get an industry performing at the top of its form. Appleton Papers is a leading producer of carbonless copy paper, in addition to thermal and specialty coated paper products. “They tried to sell the company two years ago,” Grace said. “But recently, someone bought back all the stock and privatized the company, and now they are strapped for cash,” he said of the European owners. “Anytime employees have a chance to buy a company at its peak, it is an excellent opportunity. Usually employee buyout options are offered when a company is depleted of its assets. But this is just the opposite.” Last year, the company broke ground on a new finishing mill and stacker building for the Roaring Spring plant. Also, the Harrisburg plant, which is slated to be closed sometime this year, will bring an estimated 40 jobs to Roaring Spring. “I expect that through employee ownership, Appleton Papers and our employees will play a larger role in the growth and prosperity of all the communities in which we have operations,” Appleton Chief Executive Officer Doug Buth said in a statement Wednesday. If the deal goes through, Arjo Wiggins would not retain any ownership of the company, corporate officials confirmed. And because it is a purchase by employees, management would remain intact. Buth said the opportunity for employees to gain ownership of Appleton Papers has great appeal, especially now when the company is working to diversify its product line. “We are focused on growth through innovation, and we encourage employees to think and act like inventors and owners,” he said. Brad Reist, human resources manager for the Roaring Spring facility, agreed with the assessment of the deal. Reist sees bringing the management decisions back home as a plus. “Our home office is European, and they are going in a different direction. We are their only North American holding,” he said. Appleton Papers employs about 2,900 people throughout its various operations with more than 500 workers at the Roaring Spring plant. The company’s entire 1999 sales topped $1.1 billion. Mirror Staff Writer Craig Williams can be reached at 946-7460 or cwilliamsUfaltoonamirror.com. The ticker Business at a glance Another Microsoft investigation: Still battling a federal judge’s order to break up the company over antitrust violations, Microsoft Corp. now is under investigation for possible anticompetitive behavior stemming from its stake in a rival software manufacturer. Federal antitrust investigators are looking into whether Microsoft’s investment in Corel Corp. reduces competition in the market for word processing and spreadsheet applications. Excess inventories worked off: Businesses, coping with dampened demand, worked off some of their excess inventories in December, a government report indicated Wednesday. The Commerce Department said inventories of goods on shelves and backlots rose by a tiny 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted $1.22 trillion. That matched the increase in sales, which rose to $896.8 billion. Automotive lawsuits: General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler Corp. filed competing federal lawsuits ll minutes apart this week over a grille design intended for a new GM Hummer. The Hummer H2 sport utility vehicle is scheduled to be launched next year. DaimlerChrysler contends the grille is too similar to Jeep’s grille and will confuse consumers. GM contends that no one will confuse the H2 with a Jeep. Farmland damage: Scientists who studied the world’s farmland with satellite maps found widespread damage to soil quality and said irrigation is draining underground water supplies faster than they can be replenished. Either farmers switch to farming methods that improve soil conditions and use less water or they won’t be able to feed the world’s growing population, according to the report released Wednesday by the International Food Policy Research Institute. Cable rates increase: Cable TV companies raised their monthly rates for programming and equipment by 5.8 percent last year, an increase they attributed largely to increasing costs they pay to offer popular channels, the government reported Wednesday. The increase, which covers the 12-month period ending July 1,2000, was the same both for cable companies that face competition in their markets as well as those that don’t, according to the Federal Communications Commission. From wire reports Goodyear announces job cuts BY CLAUDIA H. DEUTSCH New York Times News Service The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., grappling with persistently high raw materials costs and a weak euro, reported a fourth-quarter loss Wednesday and said that it was reducing its 105,000-person work force by nearly IO percent. The company said it would cut 7,200 jobs this year — the vast majority overseas—on top of the 3,500 jobs it excised last year. It took a fourth-quarter charge of $93.7 million to cover the cuts and plant closings, increasing its net loss for the quarter to $102 million, or 65 cents per share, on sales of $3.5 billion. Net profits in the fourth quarter of 1999 were $37 million on sales of $3.7 billion. Goodyear, which said that high oil prices added $1.40 to the cost of each of the 223 million tires that it shipped last year, reported a fourth-quarter operating loss of $16.5 million, or ll cents per share, excluding one-time items. Analysts sur veyed by Thomson/First Call expected an operating loss of 16 cents per share. In the same period in 1999, Goodyear, which is based in Akron, Ohio, had operating profits of $47.6 million. In a conference call with analysts Wednesday morning, Goodyear executives promised that the company would be profitable by the second half of 2001. They said that the job cuts, combined with other costcutting measures, would shave more than $700 million from its annual costs by 2004. “This isn’t a short-term reaction to the economy,” said Keith Price, a Goodyear spokesman. “We’re structuring to be profitable regardless of where oil and currency goes.” Shares of Goodyear closed at $24.20, up 22 cents. “This is a tough operating environment with raw material costs going up faster than prices,” said Wendy Beale Needham, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston. Briefcase Business briefs from the area and state New Chinese restaurant opens The China Dragon Buffet has opened its doors in the Park Hills Plaza on a variety of dining traditions. Owner Chun Yi Guo has created one of the only open kitchen’s in the area, where customers can watch the chefs as they cook dishes in traditional Chinese, American and Japanese cuisine. Open seven days per week from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., the buffet located next to Weis supermarket, is one of several restaurants Guo operates in the state with other locations in Lewisburg and Sunbury. Mortgage security requirement relaxed SOMERSET — The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development division has relaxed the mortgage security requirement on repair loans to very low-income rural homeowners. The change will provide money for general repairs to improve or modernize homes and to remove health and safety hazards. Loans can be made for amounts up to $20,000 over a 20-year period at an interest rate of I percent annually. Single-member households must have an adjusted annual income of less than $13,500, and a family of four must have an income of less than $19,100 per year to apply. For more information, call 445-6174, ext. 4. Flight attendants in contract talks HARRISBURG — Flight attendants of Allegheny Airlines, the US Airways Express regional carrier that serves State College, are in negotiations for a new contract. All regional flight attendants represented by the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO, are engaged in a campaign to bring regional pay more in line with pay at major airlines. Union officials site a 40 percent disparity between pay for regional attendants and those at the larger carriers. US Airways is negotiating a merger with United Airlines, which has announced that it is evaluating its plans to acquire and operate US Airways’ regional subsidiaries as a necessary feeder system for the mainline operation. Senior community to host After Hours BEDFORD — Bedford Colonial Courtyards, an assisted living complex for seniors, Donahoe Manor Road, will be the site for Business After Hours, from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 22 for the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce. Tours will show off living arrangements that include studios, one-bedroom apartments and companion suites. Common area accommodations are provided for dining, relaxing, recreation and family gatherings, indoors and outdoors. Reservations are requested by Tuesday with the chamber at 623-2233. Home show space filling BEDFORD — Five exhibit spaces remain available for the 2001 Home and Garden Show that will fill Jordan Hall at the Bedford Fairgrounds March 30 to April I. Businesses that offer goods and services to homeowners will display their wares, provide information and tips and offer prizes at the annual event sponsored by the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce. The show will run 5 to 8 p.m. March 30; IO a.m. to 7 p.m. March 31; and noon to 5 p.m. April I. New exhibitors will show landscaping and lawn care, home care, custom woodworking, pet containment, skylighting, alarm systems, com-puter-technology wiring, furniture and concrete products. Prospective exhibitors can obtain details from special projects coordinator Carla Koontz at the chamber, 623-2233. From Mirror staff and wire reports Goodyear, unlike European competitors such as Michelin, also must contend with the strong dollar. Price said that translating European sales from euros to dollars cost Goodyear $446 million last year. The year was not a total bust for Goodyear. Sales of replacement tires increased nearly fivefold in the fourth quarter from the year-earlier period. “Most of it was probably fallout from the Firestone recall,” Price said. Goodyear has increased its advertising budget by 30 percent this year and is stepping up sales calls on Firestone dealers, in hopes of getting them to switch to Goodyear. Goodyear also said that productivity gains trimmed $1.08 off the cost of every tire it shipped last year. In September 1999, Goodyear merged its European operations with Sumitomo Tire and Rubber’s Dunlop plants and retained 75 percent of the newly formed joint venture. Business warms to peer-to-peer technology By Bob Keefe Cox News Service SAN FRANCISCO - Napster Inc. may be on its death bed, but the technology behind it is alive and kicking. Businesses are beginning to use the “peer-to-peer” computing technology made popular by Napster to share important files. Beyond that, scientists searching for extraterrestrial life are using it to tap a pool of surplus computing power. And with dozens of other Napster-like programs, consumers are sharing photos, music and other material. Two days after an appeals court ordered the potential shutdown of Napster, which helped users share copyrighted music for free, venture capitalists and computer industry gurus said at a conference that even more peer-to-peer applications are on the way. “What Napster told us is the shape of the next generation of the Internet and what it will look like,” said Tim O’Reilly, whose O’Reilly & Associates Inc. technical publishing company sponsored the conference. With peer-to-peer software, users can link their PCs together through the Internet to share files, hard drive space and memory. It turns traditional desktops into virtual server computers that can be accessed by others anywhere on the Internet using PCs — and eventually, proponents said, by everything from cell phones to portable music players. The technology isn’t new. In fact, it creates the kind of connected global networks that Internet founders envisioned. But it took Napster and its 50 million users to put a spotlight on its possibilities. “We got interested in peer-to-peer when someone at a meeting said, ‘What should we do about Napster?”’ said Intel Corp. executive Bob Knighten, considered the giant chip maker’s peer-to-peer evangelist. “Our first reaction was, ‘Stay away, we’ll get sued.’ But my perception was that this could be a very interesting technology.” Peer-to-peer technology can be valuable for businesses trying to share files between offices without buying high-priced servers and high-speed Internet connections. NYSE AMEX NASDAQ Most Active (Bl or more) Most Active (ll or more) Most Active (ll or more) Name Vol (OO) Last _Chg Name Vol (OO) Last Chg Name Vol (OO) Last Chg Lucent 450942 12.70 -.84 Nasd100T S624243 57.45 +2.20 JDS Uni si009552 41.25 +2.75 ConAgra 295444 20.01 -4.85 SPDR 83902132.06 -.20 Cisco s 711416 29.38 +.88 NortelNw 287969 29.55 -.20 Nabors 18436 59.95 +.14 WorldCom 518285 17.50 -1.06 Coming s 287659 38.90 -65 DJIA Diam 17819108 28 -1.00 ApldMat s 473046 46.81 +5.56 EMC s 189120 56.50 +1.19 GreyWolf 12358 6.56 + 26 Intel s 453062 34.13 +1.69 Gainers ($2 or more) Gainers ($2 or more) Gainers ($2 or more) Name Last Chg %Chg Name Last Chg %Chg Name Last Chg ‘/.Chg ChmpE 5.90 +89 + 178 Boundls 2.97 +.57 +23.8 ShoePav 2.44 +.94 +62.5 Corimon s 32.00 +4.05 +14.5 VSI Hold 3.70 +.60 +19.4 EuroMic 3.00 +1.00 +50.0 Mueller 29.75 +3.23 +12.2 Vicon 2.50 +.34 +15.7 USintnw s 3.13 +.88 +38.9 MicronT s 46.50 +5.00 +12.0 Terremark 2.00 +.26 + 14.9 Terayon s I 6.81 +1.98 +38.0 Teradyn 39.35 +4.22 +12.0 MMed 7.95 +.75 +10.4 SierraCts 5.52 +1.45 +35.8 Losers ($2 or more) Losers ($2 or more) Losers ($2 or more) Name Last Chg ‘/.Chg Name Last Chg ‘/.Chg Name Last Chg %Chg ConAgra 20.01 -485 -19.5 SemotusSol 3.87 - 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  • Aijo Wiggins Appleton
  • Arjo Wiggins
  • Bob Knighten
  • Brad Reist
  • Carla Koontz
  • Chun Yi Guo
  • Craig Williams
  • Doug Buth
  • Jordan Hall
  • Keith Price
  • Larry Grace
  • Wendy Beale Needham

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Publication: Altoona Mirror

Location: Altoona, Pennsylvania

Issue Date: February 15, 2001

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