BUSINESS DIGEST

The Baltimore Sun

EDF to sell assets to make up for 2008 earnings drop

Electricite de France SA, Europe's biggest power producer and a nuclear energy partner with Baltimore's Constellation Energy Group, will sell assets to cut debt after 2008 earnings declined, and it missed estimates on costs associated with regulated power rates. Paris-based EDF will focus on cutting net financial debt by almost $7 million over this year and next after two acquisitions in the past six months. It agreed in December to buy half of Constellation's nuclear energy business for $4.5 billion. EDF also paid $17.8 billion for British Energy Group to drive nuclear growth. Net income declined 39 percent to $4.4 billion, the operator of France's 58 nuclear reactors said yesterday. That's below the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

T. Rowe Price increases dividend to 25 cents

Baltimore money manager T. Rowe Price Group announced yesterday that it increased its quarterly dividend by a penny to 25 cents per share. The dividend is payable March 30 to shareholders of record as of March 16. Price's annual dividend payment has increased every year since the company went public in 1986. Price increased its quarterly dividend 5 cents to 24 cents in December 2007. Last year, Price changed the way it declared dividends; paying them in the same quarter in which they are declared.

Hanah Cho

MuniMae future in doubt after it restates finances

Municipal Mortgage & Equity LLC, the real estate and alternative energy financier known as MuniMae, issued audited 2006 financial statements yesterday in which its independent public accounting firm said it doubts the company can continue as a going concern because of liquidity problems and a substantial drop in business. The Baltimore-based company also restated its financial results for the two previous years, showing net earnings of $24.7 million, or 65 cents per share, in 2005 and a net loss of $3.3 million, or 9 cents per share, in 2004. Because of weak market conditions, MuniMae said it expects its 2007 and 2008 financial statements to include substantial losses due to deterioration in the market value of its bond portfolio and to the value of its loans and other assets. MuniMae, which arranges debt and equity financing for developers and owners of real estate, said it has recorded cumulative pretax losses related to more than 200 funds and partnerships in which MuniMae had little or no ownership interest as of Dec. 31, 2006. Company executives could not be reached for comment last night.

Lorraine Mirabella

Fed report: Average net worth falls 20 percent

WASHINGTON : The Federal Reserve says the recession has cut many Americans' net worth by about 20 percent as the value of homes, stock portfolios and businesses plummet. The Fed says the average net worth of American households plunged 22.7 percent since the recession began in December 2007 through October, when the report was prepared. The median net worth, or the midpoint between the wealthiest and poorest, fell 17.8 percent.

Associated Press

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