ORANGE JUICE FUTURES FALL: Orange juice fell to the lowest price in almost three months on speculation that table fruit damaged by a freeze in California will be squeezed for juice, offsetting a smaller crop expected from Florida. About 80 percent of California oranges are sold as table fruit. With about half the crop damaged by frost, many oranges still could be sold for juice. That could help offset a Florida crop expected to be 22 percent smaller than a year ago. Frozen orange juice concentrate for January delivery, the contract closest to delivery, fell 2.75 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $1.018 a pound on the New York Cotton Exchange. The most-active March contract fell 2.55 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $1.043 a pound.
EXECS SELL RECORD STOCK: U.S. executives boosted their stock sales by 26 percent to a record $36.2-billion in 1998, led for a third consecutive year by Microsoft Corp. officers. Microsoft director Paul Allen, who co-founded the world's largest personal computer softwaremaker, led all officers with $3.6-billion in sales. Chairman and chief executive Bill Gates sold $1.8-billion in stock as Microsoft's shares more than doubled, according to research firm Washington Service. Executives purchased $2.8-billion in shares during the year, a 23 percent increase. Conseco Inc. officers topped the list of buyers for a second straight year, spending $143.8-million as the insurer's shares fell by about a third, Washington Service said.
DISNEY SHIP DELAYED: Disney Cruise Lines said its second cruise ship would begin service Aug. 15, five months later than planned, because of construction delays on its first ship. The Disney Wonder's first voyage had been scheduled for March, a spokeswoman said. The ship is being built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA. Disney and the shipbuilder faced delays completing the first ship, the Magic, which began service July 30.
BEARDSTOWN PUBLISHER SUED: A lawsuit has been filed against the publisher of the Beardstown Ladies Common Sense Investment Guide, claiming it should have known the best-selling book contained inflated earnings figures. The lawsuit was filed in state court in New York City last month by a Connecticut woman and seeks class-action status on behalf of those who purchased the 1995 edition of the guide, which was based on the strategies of the Beardstown, Ill., club. "The book was sold and marketed as an investment guide suggesting you could get a 23-plus percent annual return if you followed the advice in the book," said Oliver Koppell, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit. "The fact is the group did not achieve anything like that." Buena Vista Publishing Group Inc., a subsidiary of Walt Disney Co. that distributed the book, was named in the suit. Members of the investment club are not targeted. The lawsuit asks that purchasers of the book in 1995, be refunded the $20 purchase price.
KODAK ENDS THE DI