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BRIEFS E.F. Johnson to close operations in Waseca

WASECA, Minn. -- After more than 80 years in Waseca, E.F. Johnson Co. has announced it will cease operations here by the spring of next year.

Nearly 140 employees will be looking for new jobs. Layoffs will begin in June.

The manufacturer of mobile radios has struggled in recent years. Employment fell from a peak of 550 in 1997 to the current level of 139.

Company officials said some of the Waseca operations will be shifted to Irving, Texas, where the company opened an office last October.

Former Katun CEO asentenced to 8 months

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ST. PAUL -- Former Katun chief executive and co-founder Terence Michael Clarke was sentenced Wednesday to eight months in prison for two corporate fraud schemes, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

He's already serving a two-year sentence in a federal prison camp near Pensacola, Fla., after pleading guilty to tax evasion stemming from his activities at Katun, a Bloomington-based copier supply company. Clarke's new sentence will run concurrently with his two-year sentence.

Judge Paul Magnuson also ordered Clarke to pay a $250,000 fine and restitution of $925,000 to Ricoh Corp. and $25,000 to Xerox Corp. He was also ordered to pay $50,000 in "extraordinary restitution" to the Center for Ethical Business Cultures and the Caux Round Table, to be used to support ethics education in Minnesota schools.

Amazon.com launches search engine

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Online retailer Amazon.com quietly launched an Internet search service Wednesday, jumping into a marketplace already crowded with offerings from Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft Corp.

The service, in test mode for now, is operated by a Palo Alto-based subsidiary and branded separately.

Like its competitors, Amazon's A9.com offers both a Web site and an Internet Explorer toolbar from which users can enter search terms. Searches also can be limited to just Amazon.com products -- as well as the text of books available at Amazon.com.

Demand for iPods aids Apple profit

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Huge demand for its iPod portable digital music players helped Apple Computer Inc. triple its second-quarter earnings and easily beat Wall Street expectations.

The Cupertino-based computer maker said Wednesday its net income was $46 million, or 12 cents a share, for the three months ended March 27. In the year-ago quarter, Apple reported net income of $14 million, or 4 cents a share.

Sales were $1.91 billion, up 29 percent from $1.48 billion reported in the year-ago period.

Excluding a one-time after-tax restructuring charge of $7 million, the company's net profit for the quarter would have been $53 million, or 14 cents per share.

Intel shares fall despite sales surge

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Intel Corp.'s shares fell Wednesday after the chip maker reported first-quarter results that missed Wall Street's expectations despite stronger demand from businesses for computers and other high-tech gear.

Intel also said after the market closed Tuesday that it expects the current quarter's revenues to be between $7.6 billion and $8.2 billion. Though the midpoint is below analysts' consensus expectation of $8.09 billion, it's above historical declines in the second quarter, one of the weakest periods of the year.

For the three months ended March 27, Intel reported a profit of $1.73 billion, or 26 cents per share, compared with a profit of $915 million, or 14 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. First-quarter sales rose to $8.09 billion, compared with $6.75 billion in the first quarter of 2003.

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