Did Joe Camel flap boost sales?The onslaught...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Did Joe Camel flap boost sales?

The onslaught against Joe Camel, the debonair cartoon dromedary who stars in Camel cigarette ads, began in December. Studies that concluded the pool-playing, motorcycle-driving Joe appealed too much to the nation's youth unleashed a torrent of negative publicity against him.

Did all the bad press hurt sales of the 75-year-old brand? Hardly.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. says sales of its third most popular brand rose 6 percent in the first quarter, compared with a drop of nearly 16 percent in the same three months of 1991.

In December, the Journal of the American Medical Association published studies that found Joe Camel's image was as familiar to 6-year-olds as Mickey Mouse.

During the ensuing controversy, Camel has become the brand of choice for 32.8 percent of the smokers under age 18 -- up from just 0.5 percent three years earlier, according to the journal. In terms of money, it's a boost from $6 million a year to $476 million a year.

The tobacco industry argues there's no proof that the ads influence young people to reach for a Camel.

Keating aide guilty:

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A top aide to former Lincoln Savings and Loan chief Charles H. Keating Jr. pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of bank fraud and securities fraud in the failure of the S&L.; Judith E. Wischer, 43, who was a director of Lincoln and president of its parent company, American Continental Corp., admitted at a federal court hearing that she took part in a scheme to make it appear the institutions were financially sound when they were actually near bankruptcy.

The scheme involved fraudulent bookkeeping that showed that the two companies were making a profit. Wischer, 43, is the second of five defendants to plead guilty in the federal case.

Keating's son-in-law, Robert Wurzelbacher, 37, recently admitted similar offenses.

Keating, his son, Charles Keating III, and Andrew Ligget, who was American Continental's chief financial officer, are scheduled for trial Aug. 4.

Settles charges:

Salomon Brothers Inc. has agreed to pay $290 million to settle fraud charges stemming from its role in last year's Treasury bond auction scandal, according to a report published today.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the settlement late Tuesday.

The newspaper said Salomon neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in settling federal civil charges of fraud and filing false books and records.

Profits fall:

Honda Motor Co. said today that despite rising sales, its consolidated profit fell 14.9 percent in fiscal 1991 to $488 million.

The Japanese maker of cars and motorcycles said the decline in the year ended March 31 was due to a stronger yen, which resulted in lower income on loans and investments.

A strong yen means Honda can get fewer yen at home for the foreign currencies it earns abroad.

The consolidated financial results cover 357 companies, including 209 subsidiaries. Honda is the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer and Japan's No. 3 maker of passenger cars.

Stockbroker banished:

A Baltimore stockbroker has been barred from the industry and fined $5,000 for failing to pay a $1,865 arbitration award dating to 1990, according to the National Association of Securities Dealers. Richard T. Warren, 28, has not worked for an NASD member firm since early 1991, the association said.

The order barred Mr. Warren from working for any firm belonging to the association, but allowed him to apply for readmission after paying the award. The NASD said the award originally was levied jointly against Mr. Warren and his former employer, Blinder, Robinson & Co. Inc., which the NASD said is being liquidated.

AT&T; starts direct-dial service:

American Telephone & Telegraph Co. began direct-dial service yesterday to all 15 of the former Soviet republics, enabling Americans to direct dial more than 2,000 cities. To reach the republics, callers must dial 0117, then a city or region code and the local number, AT&T; said. Rates are $1.55 to $2.01 per minute, depending on when a call is made.

Merry-Go-Round to buy Worth Stores:

Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc. of Joppa said yesterday that it had reached an agreement in principle to acquire Worth Stores Corp., a U.S. subsidiary of Reitmans (Canada) Ltd., and operate under the Networks name. The sportswear chain has 88 stores in the Midwest, Southeast and Southwest.

L.A. Gear settles:

L.A. Gear Inc., a California maker of athletic shoes, agreed yesterday to pay $404,000 to settle charges that it participated in the Arab boycott of Israel, the Commerce Department said. U.S. law prohibits individuals and companies from taking part in foreign boycotts of countries friendly to the United States and from furnishing information about business dealings with boycotted countries and blacklisted companies.

The department alleged that in July 1987 and January and May 1990 L.A. Gear complied with boycott requests from a customer in Kuwait. It said L.A. Gear committed 58 violations of the anti-boycott act by furnishing the names and locations of its suppliers, by agreeing not to use suppliers that were rejected by Kuwait and by failing to report the boycott request.

Correction:

The house number of a Baltimore listing in real estate transfers in last Wednesday's Evening Sun was incorrect. The correct address is 2917 Chesley Ave.

Settles charges:

Salomon Brothers Inc. has agreed to pay $290 million to settle fraud charges stemming from its role in last year's Treasury bond auction scandal, according to a report published today.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the Securities and Exchange Commission approved the settlement late Tuesday.

The newspaper said Salomon neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in settling federal civil charges of fraud and filing false books and records.

Under terms of the agreement with the SEC, the brokerage will pay $122 million in fines to the U.S. Treasury, $100 million to an SEC-administered restitution fund, and $18 million to the Justice Department. An additional $50 million could go to settle antitrust charges, though Salomon has not agreed to antitrust violations, the report said.

Price Waterhouse suit:

An Arizona jury yesterday told Price Waterhouse to pay $338 million to a British banking firm because the accounting firm's audit led to a losing investment in an Arizona bank. The jury agreed with London-based Standard Chartered PLC that Price Waterhouse bungled its audit of United Bank in 1985 and 1986. The British company had alleged in a Maricopa County Superior Court lawsuit that Price Waterhouse failed to alert the firm to bad loans on the bank's books and overstated its financial condition.

Standard Chartered bought United Bank in January 1987 for about $335 million and sold it 16 months later to Citicorp for about $208 million.

Macy gets reprieve:

A bankruptcy judge said yesterday that R.H. Macy & Co. could have nine more months to file a reorganization plan, denying a request by creditors who wanted to file an alternative proposal. Although U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Burton Lifland gave Macy until Feb. 26 to file its reorganization plan, and he ordered the company to submit the outline of a plan by Sept. 15.

Olympia & York pledge:

Cash-strapped Olympia & York Developments Ltd. pledged yesterday to make a $35.9 million interest payment on a New York building next month but said it expected to run out of money for creditors next year. Company officials made the pledge for the June 30 payment at a meeting with 100 bondholders of 55 Water St. Finance Co.

The bonds are backed by the 53-story office tower at that address in lower Manhattan.

The company put its Canadian properties under bankruptcy protection last week -- crushed by $12.4 billion in debt and sagging real estate markets.

IBM announces new products:

IBM announced yesterday a number of products it says will make it easier for large customers to store and retrieve information they use on mainframe computers. Among the products is software that can manage a customer's data whether they are stored on magnetic disk drives, optical-storage devices or magnetic tape.

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