In the RegionCriimi Mae lessens loss to...

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Criimi Mae lessens loss to 4 cents a share, won't pay dividend

Criimi Mae Inc., once the largest buyer of junk-rated commercial mortgages, yesterday reported first-quarter net income available to common stockholders of approximately $3.9 million, or 4 cents a diluted share, compared with $4 million, or 6 cents a diluted share, in the first quarter of 2000.

The company estimates its tax net operating loss in the quarter that ended March 31 was $17 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with $14 million, or 22 cents a share in 2000.

The loss means the Rockville real estate investment trust, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy April 17, will not pay dividends to common shareholders for the period. The company also said it does not expect to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.

eChapman's revenue drops 46%, leading to loss

eChapman.com Inc., the Internet financial services company started by Baltimore broker Nathan A. Chapman Jr., reported yesterday that it lost $1.6 million, or 13 cents per share, in the quarter that ended March 31, compared with a loss of $341,000, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 46 percent to $14 million in the quarter, compared with $2.6 million a year earlier, and expenses dropped about 6.5 percent to $2.9 million, compared with $3.1 million a year earlier. Revenue from commissions was $908,000, down 4.3 percent. Investment management fees fell to $1.1 million, down 15 percent.

eChapman.com, formed in May 1999, is a combination of three financial companies started by Chapman - Chapman Holdings Inc., Chapman Capital Management Holdings Inc. and Chapman Insurance Holdings Inc.

PharmaKinetics cuts loss, nearly doubles revenue

PharmaKinetics Laboratories Inc. yesterday reported it narrowed its third-quarter loss to $309,056, or 12 cents a share, from $902,470, or 36 cents a share, for the corresponding period in 2000.

In the three months that ended March 31, the Baltimore contract drug testing company's revenue was $1.4 million, up from $850,748 in the year-ago quarter.

For the nine months of its fiscal year, PharmaKinetics reported a net loss of $142,607, or 6 cents a share, on revenue of $6.8 million vs. a net loss of $2.1 million, or 86 cents a share, on revenue of $5.9 million in the prior year.

Allfirst Financial's profit rises 1.3% to $45.9 million

Allfirst Financial Inc. reported yesterday that its profit rose 1.3 percent to $45.9 million in the first quarter that ended March 31, up from $45.3 million in the 2000 period.

The Baltimore subsidiary of Allied Irish Banks PLC of Dublin said income generated from fee-based services was up 12.1 percent to $87 million, and net interest income, or revenue primarily from loans and investments, rose 1.3 percent to $125.9 million.

Allfirst's assets were up about 1 percent to $18.6 billion, loans fell 3.7 percent to $10.5 billion and deposits fell 4.7 percent to $12.1 billion.

Elsewhere

WorldCom to fire more workers but silent on how many

WorldCom Inc., the second-biggest U.S. long-distance telephone company, plans to fire more workers this year to trim expenses.

WorldCom will cut jobs internationally to lower general and administrative expenses and sales costs in the second half, the company said in a filing yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing didn't say how many jobs would be cut and a company spokesman declined to comment. WorldCom cut about 6,000 U.S. jobs in February, about 7 percent of its work force.

Gateway, Juno to change hidden charges, FTC says

Gateway Inc. and Juno Online Services have agreed to change their policies after consumers were forced to pay hidden charges for Internet access, the Federal Trade Commission said yesterday, noting that both companies hid information about fees in "fine print."

The FTC's consumer protection bureau alleged that Juno made it unreasonably difficult for consumers to cancel premium Internet service before a free trial period ended. Computer maker Gateway charged $3.95 per hour for rural customers to dial into the Gateway.Net service with a supposedly toll-free phone number, the FTC charged.

Juno said it has changed its practices, which, it said, are not out of the ordinary. Gateway said the ads in question ran in 1999, and newer ads properly disclose the costs.

Bertelsmann online unit to be folded into book club

German media giant Bertelsmann AG reorganized part of its Internet empire yesterday, announcing plans to fold its online bookstore into its book club division as it faces pressure from such rivals as Amazon.com.

The move - meant to help cut costs and bolster customer traffic - comes after Bertelsmann scrubbed plans late last year to float its troubled online book division, bol.com, on the stock market as a separate company.

Launched in 1999, bol.com is Europe's No. 2 online bookstore behind U.S.-based Amazon.com, the world's leader. But the unit has yet to turn a profit, and could sap strength from Bertelsmann's book and music club division, known collectively as Direct Group Bertelsmann. A mainstay of the German company's customer base for 50 years, Bertelsmann's club division has also become a loss maker in recent years.

Motorola weighs selling information systems group

Wireless technology giant Motorola Inc., which last month reported its first quarterly operating loss in 15 years, said yesterday that it is considering selling its Integrated Information Systems Group, a government communication and information technology business.

The world's second-largest mobile phone maker had previously said it was exploring strategic options, including the possible sale of some of its non-core businesses, to raise cash.

The company, which lost $206 million from ongoing operations in the first quarter excluding special items, has already cut costs aggressively this year, slashing 22,000 jobs, or 15 percent of its work force.

Zany Brainy files for Chapter 11

Zany Brainy Inc., a retailer of educational toys, books and other products for children, said yesterday that it had filed for Chapter 11 protection from its creditors while it reorganizes.

Tom Vellios, president and chief executive, blamed the company's financial problems on its rapid expansion, including the opening of 27 new stores and the acquisition of a chain of 60 Noodle Kidoodle stores, and a difficult retail climate.

The company has 187 stores in 34 states, including Maryland. Trading in its shares was suspended on the Nasdaq stock market, where it last traded at 33 cents a share.

Cirrus Logic lays off 120, or about 9% of work force

Cirrus Logic Inc., which makes semiconductors for consumer-electronics products, says it has laid off 120 workers, about 9 percent of its work force, and will cut the use of outside contractors.

Cirrus said it expected the layoffs would cut costs $10 million to $12 million annually. The company said it would take a charge of $1.5 million to $2 million.

San Jose newspaper, USA Today set layoffs

Two major newspapers are making staff reductions, the latest to hit the industry as a sudden decline in advertising revenues and higher newsprint prices squeeze profits.

The San Jose Mercury News announced to its staff Monday that it would cut 120 jobs, or 8 percent of its work force of 1,560, through voluntary buyouts and early retirement.

USA Today laid off six newsroom employees and seven people from its online division yesterday. The newsroom layoffs were the first for the paper since it was founded in 1982. It has eliminated 100 jobs, or 5 percent of its staff, since the beginning of the year.

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

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