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03 May 05. Lower costs and the restructuring of problem contracts helped Electronic Data Systems return to profit in the first quarter in spite of a continuing slump in revenues. The second-largest IT services company achieved net income of $4m, or 1 cent a share, in the three months to March, compared with a loss of $12m, or 2 cents a share. Last year’s loss would have been 9 cents if stock options had been expensed. Revenue was $4.94bn, down 5 per cent. Excluding currency movements, revenue declined by 8 per cent. The results confirmed the gradual recovery at EDS, which came close to collapse in 2003 following a period of breakneck growth. The stock gained 50 cents to $19.93 following the announcement, which came after the close in New York on Monday, but later slipped back to $19.53. Mike Jordan, chief executive, said EDS “got off to a strong start” to the year and remained “on track to deliver on our long-term turnround goals”. The group won new business of $7.1bn in the quarter, up from $3.8bn, including a previously announced $3.85bn, contract with the UK Ministry of Defence. Excluding the MOD deal, the value of new contracts declined by 19 per cent.

05 May 05. The management of BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defence company, is close to an agreement with unions that will knock £1.7bn ($3.2bn) off its £2.8bn UK pension liability, Dick Olver, chairman, said on Wednesday. Mr Olver did not give details of the agreement. However, other company officials said management had finalised a pact with one of BAE’s largest employee groups those working under the main pension scheme set up under BAE’s predecessor company, British Aerospace and had almost finished a deal with its shipbuilding employees, who work for units acquired when BAE merged with GEC Marconi in 1999. Management is about to open talks with a third large division employees at units that once belonged to another legacy company, Royal Ordnance and officials are optimistic an agreement can be reached soon. Under the terms of the new deal, employees and the company will both significantly increase their contributions to the scheme. Employee contributions will rise from 4.5 per cent of salary to 9 per cent, while the company will increase its contribution from 12.5 per cent to 18 per cent. The £1.7bn improvement will occur over the course of the current pension agreement, which lasts for 15 years. (Source: FT)

25 Apr 05. Volvo reportedly beat expectations with a 53% jump in first-quarter pre-tax earnings on Monday, but concern about weak growth in its biggest market, Europe, pulled its shares lower. Reuters said Volvo reported pre-tax profit of 4.6bn crowns ($US655.7m), up from 3.0bn a year earlier and better than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of 13 analysts, which ranged from 3.0bn to 4.5bn crowns. The company reportedly said growth in the European truck market could be at the lower end of a previous forecast range and that pulled its share price lower in early Monday trading. Reuters said Volvo affirmed its forecast of the European truck market growing by up to 5%, but added that truck orders in Europe weakened in the first quarter. Volvo, which sells trucks under the Mack and Renault brands as well as its own name, reportedly was more upbeat on North America, reiterating a truck market forecast growth of 15 to 20% this year. (Source: just-auto.com)

05 May 05. Alliant Techsystems Inc., reported Thursday a decline in fiscal fourth-quarter earnings while revenue rose 18%. Earnings totaled $48.2m, or $1.26 a share, for the quarter ended March 31, down from the $50.9m, or $1.31 a share, earned a year earlier. Higher legal expenses and a lower year-earlier tax rate sapped the Minneapolis-based company’s profit for the latest quarter. Quarterly revenue rose to $800m, up from $676.7m last year. The revenue growth reflected demand for small-caliber ammunition and aerospace-related products. In the most recent fourth quarter, the company (ATK: news, chart, profile)

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