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BUSINESS TODAY

SETTLEMENT TALKS IN LYKES CASE: Opposing lawyers in the Lykes Brothers Inc. family feud will spend the next two weeks trying to hammer out a settlement instead of quizzing witnesses. Hillsborough County Circuit Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. approved the settlement effort Tuesday. It was the first visible sign of progress since the trial began Oct. 29. At issue is the value of the Tampa company's shares as of June 4, 1999, the day before it sold its Dade City juice-processing operations. Family shareholders holding 26 percent of the company's stock opposed the sale and now seek to sell their shares back to the company for $23,700 apiece, or a total of $103-million. The company says each share is worth $5,330, or $23-million total. If lawyers for the two sides fail to reach a compromise, the trial will resume the week of Dec. 3.

ORACLE LOWERS GUIDANCE: Oracle Corp. shares fell 5.7 percent after the software company said profit will miss analyst estimates for the fiscal second quarter. Oracle will probably earn about 9 cents to 10 cents a share in the quarter ending this month, chief executive Larry Ellison said, versus Wall Street forecasts of 11 cents a share. Ellison attributed the outlook to customers' reluctance to buy. The shares fell 88 cents to $14.52.

US AIRWAYS TARGETS FUNDING: US Airways Group said it expects to raise a "substantial" amount of cash from an unnamed third party by the end of this year. The airline said in a quarterly report that it would obtain the funds through "a proposed financing transaction with a third party." Spokesman Rick Weintraub declined to give additional details. The goal for US Airways is to have $800-million to $900-million in cash and short-term securities at the end of this year, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing. US Airways stock, which has dropped about 89 percent this year, rose 22 cents to $4.60.

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