bus BRIEFS Former Charter execs plead not guilty

ST. LOUIS -- Two former top executives of Charter Communications pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 14 federal charges that they conspired to defraud investors in the nation's third biggest cable television systems company.

Former chief operating officer David Barford and former chief financial officer Kent Kalkwarf appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce. Both men, accused of mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, are free on $100,000 bond each.

Kalkwarf's attorney, Robert Haar, said his client acted appropriately. Barford and his attorney, Jeff Demerath, declined comment.

Barford, 44, and Kalkwarf, 45, are among four former executives accused in an indictment announced Thursday.

U.S. steel imports drop again


WASHINGTON -- American companies imported 1.6 million metric tons of steel in June, a slight dip from the previous month and a big drop from the same period last year, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

June's imports were valued at $800 million -- the second lowest level of the year. In May, U.S. companies imported 1.7 million metric tons of steel, worth $900 million. In June 2002, the companies imported 2.5 million metric tons, worth about $1 billion.

Imports peaked at the start of the year, with 2.3 million metric tons worth $1 billion in January. The import levels are under scrutiny this summer because the Bush administration will soon decide whether to continue tariffs on foreign-made steel that began over a year ago.

Verizon earns $338 million in 2nd quarter

NEW YORK -- Verizon Communications Inc. earned $338 million in the second quarter as revenues edged higher, led by strong growth in new long-distance and mobile phone customers. However, the company continued to lag rivals in attracting customers for high-speed DSL Internet service despite aggressive price cuts.

The profit at nation's biggest telephone company, which amounted to 12 cents per share, compared with a loss of $2.12 billion, or 78 cents per share, in the April-June period in 2002.

Excluding one-time costs, Verizon posted an operating profit of 69 cents per share, a penny better than Wall Street forecasts.

Tyco restates earnings back to 1998


NEW YORK -- Tyco International Ltd. reported a third-quarter profit Tuesday of $566.5 million, compared to a loss of $2.6 billion a year ago due largely to the sale of finance unit CIT Group.

The manufacturing conglomerate also filed restated financial results dating back to fiscal year 1998, following discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The restatements, announced last month, push a total of $696.1 million in charges back to the periods to which they relate. They did not affect current earnings.

Chairman and chief executive Edward D. Breen, the former Motorola chief who stepped last year after Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski was indicted on tax evasion charges, said he has "become only more excited" about the company's prospects.

McDonald's profits fall 5 percent

CHICAGO -- New salads helped McDonald's Corp. serve up significantly stronger U.S. sales in the second quarter, but profits announced Tuesday fell 5 percent on spotty results from its restaurants in Europe and Asia.

Despite the biggest quarterly jump since 1998 in sales from established U.S. McDonald's-brand restaurants, the disappointing results overseas kept talk of a long-sought turnaround on hold.

New CEO Jim Cantalupo stuck to his earlier assessment that the fast-food giant needs until 2005 before its restructuring results put the company fully back on the path to consistent, solid growth.

R.J. Reynolds profit falls in second quarter


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Lower sales and higher promotional costs helped drive down R.J. Reynolds Tobacco's profit by 67 percent in the second quarter, the nation's second-biggest cigarette maker said Tuesday.

The tobacco company behind the Winston and Camel brands also warned its earnings could be below its earlier forecast for the full year and said it expected to announce a restructuring charge in September or October.

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