In the RegionOrthopedic group reporting loss after...

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In the Region

Orthopedic group reporting loss after acquisition

Hanger Orthopedic Group Inc. of Bethesda reported yesterday its second consecutive quarter of revenue that was more than double the year-earlier quarter, but a net loss after acquisition-related expenses.

For the quarter ended March 31, Hanger had a net loss of $279,000, or 7 cents per common share, after $586,000 in costs related to its acquisition last year of its largest competitor, NovaCare Orthotics and Prosthetics Inc. Without the charges, Hanger had earnings of $41,000 and a loss of 5 cents per common share after payment of preferred stock dividends. In the first quarter of 1999, Hanger had earnings of $3.1 million, or 15 cents per common share. Revenuewas $114.9 million, more than double the $49 million in the year-earlier period, reflecting the NovaCare acquisition and a 6.6 percent revenue growth at practices Hanger owned last year.

Hanger owns and operates practices in which patients are fitted for braces and artificial limbs. It also manufactures and distributes braces and artificial limbs.

University of Baltimore hires the Reeves Agency

The University of Baltimore has named the Reeves Agency as its advertising firm of record for an account valued at more than $500,000.

Baltimore-based Reeves will be responsible for providing marketing services.

The company will also provide a new image campaign that will feature radio, print and Internet advertising and for doing market research.

Sinclair hopes Web site attracts young viewers

Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcasting Group Inc. has started a Web site, ZigZagZone.com, aimed at building viewer loyalty among children.

The broadcasting company said it intends the site to be a tie-in with its "Kids Club," operated by its station WTTE-TV, a Fox affiliate, in Columbus, Ohio. The station claims 150,000 club members.

The site offers such items as children's games, and a listing of sponsoring station's TV programming.

KPMG, tech magazine honor local businessmen

The Baltimore-Washington office of KPMG LLP, a business consulting and accounting firm, and Techway, a Washington-area technology magazine, named three start-up company executives as the region's entrepreneurs of the year for bringing new ideas and business opportunities to the area.

The executives are David R. Huber, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Columbia-based Corvis Corp.; Phillip Merrick, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Fairfax, Va.-based webMethods, Inc.; and David S. Oros, chairman and chief executive officer of Owings Mills-based Aether Systems Inc.

USinternetworking Inc. of Annapolis received the high-technology corporate citizenship award for its philanthropic contributions and involvement in community projects.

Elsewhere

Unilever again asks Bestfoods to discuss takeover offer

Anglo-Dutch foods and consumer products group Unilever PLC/NV said yesterday that it had repeated a call for its bid target Bestfoods to negotiate, but had not yet received a reply from the U.S. group.

Unilever's efforts come against the background of a U.S. newspaper report that U.S. foods group H.J. Heinz Co. is keen to pay $72 a share for Bestfoods.

Bestfoods has not responded to the report. Nor has it made any new response to Unilever's $66 per share proposal, which it rejected earlier.

3Com sets buyback and Palm spinoff

3Com Corp., the No. 2 maker of computer-networking equipment, said it will buy back as much as $1 billion of its shares, which have tumbled 58 percent since touching a record on March 1.

The company also set July 27 as the day it will spin off its 94 percent stake in electronic-organizer maker Palm Inc. to 3Com shareholders of record as of July 11. It didn't set a ratio, though based on the two companies' current shares outstanding, 3Com holders would get about 1.5 shares of Palm for each 3Com share, the company said.

3Com said the share repurchase plan replaces previous authorizations to buy back 45 million shares. The company has spent $919.3 million since June 1998 to buy back 35.3 million shares. The $1 billion buyback represents 22.9 million shares at today's closing price.

Insurance broker OK'd to start Internet thrift

Marsh & McLennan Cos., the world's largest insurance broker, won clearance from regulators to start an Internet-based thrift offering savings accounts.

The New York-based company got federal approval to establish Bank, a new Internet bank that will take deposits and, instead of making its own loans, provide links to other lenders, the Office of Thrift Supervision said.

The thrift's main business will be to market additional services to customers of Marsh & McLennan's Seabury & Smith Inc. unit, which administers special insurance programs for organizations and employee groups. The services will include savings, checking and money market accounts, certificates of deposit, and individual retirement accounts.

Postage meter maker to repurchase more stock

Pitney Bowes Inc., the world's biggest maker of postage meters, said its board authorized the repurchase of as much as $300 million of its common stock, which has dropped 42 percent in the past year.

The company, based in Stamford, Conn., said it has repurchased all of the allowable shares under its previous authorization.

The company said seven senior executives, including Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Critelli, have acquired about 35,000 shares since Pitney Bowes reported first-quarter results on April 18. Critelli added 7,000 shares in the last three weeks.

Boeing Co. 30-year veteran is chief financial officer

Michael Sears, a 30-year veteran of Boeing Co., was appointed chief financial officer of the aerospace giant yesterday.

Sears, 52, most recently was president of the company's $13 billion military division and served in the commercial aircraft and space divisions.

He replaces Debby Hopkins, the popular CFO credited for a rapid financial turnaround at Boeing, who recently took a similar job at Lucent Technologies Inc.

Excite@Home's CEO is now chairman, too

Internet access company Excite@Home Inc. said Chief Executive Officer George Bell has succeeded Thomas Jermoluk as chairman of the board.

Jermoluk, 43, stepped down as chairman last week, but will remain on the board, according to the company, which sells Internet access through cable companies such as AT&T;, Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications.

Bell, who also is Excite@Home's president, took on the additional responsibilities after the company said it expected to report operating losses through the remaining of the fiscal year as first-quarter expenses tripled and sales were below Wall Street expectations.

Federal agencies start Web site to report fraud

The Justice Department and FBI yesterday began a World Wide Web site on which consumers and businesses can report suspected Internet frauds.

Justice officials said law enforcement needs new tools like the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (http://www.ifccfbi.gov) with usage growing, particularly among older Americans with more time to surf the Web and more assets for criminals to target.

The center will send the complaints to the appropriate federal, state, local or even foreign law enforcement agency; will analyze these complaints, compile statistics and propose strategies for dealing with criminals who use computers to commit crimes.

This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Reuters.

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