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THE BALTIMORE SUN

In the Region

Broadwing unit gives Corvis' revenue big 4th-quarter boost

Corvis Corp. reported fourth-quarter revenue yesterday of $142.5 million, helped mostly by its Texas subsidiary, Broadwing Communications, and equipment sales. Corvis had $7.1 million in revenue a year earlier.

The Columbia fiber-optics maker reported a net loss of $55.4 million, or 12 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, compared with a net loss of $190.2 million, or 47 cents per share, for the comparable quarter in 2002.

For all of last year, Corvis recorded revenue of $314.3 million, compared with $20.2 million in 2002. Its net loss for 2003 was $260.5 million, compared with a net loss of $507.8 million for 2002.

FluMist maker weighs leaving vaccine business

MedImmune Inc.'s research chief told a House committee in Washington yesterday that the company might get out of the vaccine production business after disappointing sales of its nasal-spray vaccine this flu season.

The Gaithersburg company, one of three in the country that manufacture flu vaccines, plans to destroy nearly 4 million of its 5 million doses of FluMist, said James Young, president of research and development. He said it took 30 years and $1 billion in research and development to produce the spray, but "It's hard to justify staying in the business if we are hemorrhaging left to right."

Young said MedImmune tried giving away up to 1 million doses to local jurisdictions, but there were no takers. Sales of the vaccine were slowed by its wholesale price: $46 a dose.

SafeNet, Rainbow set March 15 merger votes

SafeNet Inc., a Baltimore company that provides public and private network security, and Rainbow Technologies Inc. of Irvine, Calif., which makes security products and authentication tools, said yesterday that they will both hold stockholders meetings March 15 to vote on their proposed merger.

SafeNet announced the possible merger in October. The $457 million deal is expected to close early next year.

SafeNet stockholders will meet at noon in the offices of Venable LLP at 2 Hopkins Plaza, Suite 1800 in Baltimore. Rainbow stockholders will meet at its headquarters in Irvine.

NeighborCare ties loss to split from Genesis

NeighborCare Inc., the Baltimore pharmacy company, posted a loss of $12.5 million, or 31 cents a share, for its fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 31. The company said the loss was caused by one-time charges related to its split from its one-time corporate parent, Genesis Health Ventures Inc.

Without the charges, the company said, it earned $9.2 million, or 21 cents a share for the quarter, compared with income of $8 million, or 18 cents a share, in the fiscal second quarter in 2002.

Revenue was $351.4 million, up 10.8 percent, up from $317.2 million.

BCSB Bankcorp's profit declined 58% in quarter

BCSB Bankcorp Inc., the holding company for Baltimore County Savings Bank, said yesterday that its earnings fell 58 percent in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, to $188,000 from $453,000 for the comparable quarter in 2002. On a per-share basis, earnings were 3 cents vs. 8 cents a year earlier.

During the quarter, assets decreased $7.9 million to $660.3 million and deposits increased $3.8 million to $555.7 million. The bank operates 16 offices in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Earnings fall to $493,792 at Universal Security

Universal Security Instruments Inc. posted yesterday net earnings for its fiscal third quarter of $493,792, or 44 cents per share, on net sales of $3,838,192, compared with net earnings of $673,365, or 61 cents per share on net sales of $4,252,447 for the year-earlier quarter.

The Owings Mills designer and marketer of safety and security equipment said its sales rose 10 percent to $13.2 million for the nine months that ended Dec. 31, compared with sales of $12.1 million for the year-earlier period.

Net earnings rose 11 percent to $2.08 million, or $1.85 per share, compared with $1.8 million, or $1.77 per share, a year earlier.

PHH to buy First Fleet for undisclosed terms

PHH Arval of Sparks said yesterday that it will buy First Fleet Corp., a privately held company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that offers truck fleet leasing products and services. Terms were not disclosed.

PHH Arval, a subsidiary of Cendant Corp., said the deal will create an entity that's among the top players in the North American fleet management business, adding nearly 60,000 vehicles to the 530,000 cars and light trucks PHH already manages.

Baltimore Zoo is short $50,106 for matching grant

The Baltimore Zoo is $50,106 short of its $1 million Valentine's Day fund-raising goal that would enable it to get a $1 million matching grant offered by a group of business leaders.

The zoo has received $949,894 from individuals and businesses since announcing in November that it was laying off 20 workers, reducing its collection by 400 animals and shipping its elephants, Dolly and Anna, to another zoo on a "breeding loan."

Contributions can be made online at www.baltimorezoo.org, by phone at 410-396-7654 or mailed to The Baltimore Zoo, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore 21217.

Elsewhere

Privacy laws blamed for contracts given to tax deadbeats

Privacy laws hamstring the Defense Department's ability to prevent government contracts from going to businesses that owe unpaid taxes, Pentagon and Internal Revenue Service officials said yesterday.

Their statements came after auditors at the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reported that 27,000 defense contractors owed $3 billion in unpaid taxes in the budget year that ended Sept. 30, 2002.

The secrecy laws prevent the Defense Department from asking the IRS whether a prospective contractor is delinquent in its tax payments, the officials said.

Nevertheless, the Pentagon should have been withholding 15 percent of its payments to individuals or businesses identified as tax-delinquent, according to the GAO, and should have made a dent in the billions owed by collecting at least $100 million in unpaid taxes in 2002.

United ordered to pay $36 million in sex-bias case

A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered United Airlines to pay $36.5 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by 13 former flight attendants who were fired in the early 1990s over the airline's weight policy.

The original settlement in the case was suspended in 2002 when United filed for bankruptcy. The judge reinstated the settlement Wednesday.

In 2000, an appeals court had found that the weight policy for flight attendants, in place from 1980 to 1994, discriminated against women. The airline imposed weight limits on flight attendants of both genders, but set stricter standards for women, who were required to weigh between 14 and 27 pounds less than male colleagues of the same height and age.

FedEx completes buying Kinko's Inc.

Shipping giant FedEx Corp. said yesterday that it has completed its $2.4 billion acquisition of Kinko's Inc.

The purchase puts FedEx operations in Kinko's 1,100 stores across the country and gives the shipper better access to the small-office and home-office market. FedEx has 1,200 stores worldwide.

FedEx announced plans in December to buy the Kinko's chain of copy shops from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc., a New York private equity company. Kinko's becomes FedEx's fourth major division. The company also owns FedEx Express, the world's largest cargo airline, and two trucking operations, FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight.

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

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