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BELLSOUTH WORKERS RATIFY CONTRACTS: BellSouth Corp. workers, who are members of the Communications Workers of America, have ratified five-year labor contracts which include wage increases. The six contracts, ratified Tuesday, cover 42,360 employees in the Southeast. The agreements call for wage increases of 10.94 percent over the life of the agreements. BellSouth will pay a lump sum equal to 4 percent of a worker's annual pay. Average annual pay is $46,000.

COMPUTER ASSOCIATES TO CUT 800 JOBS: Computer Associates International Inc. announced a restructuring plan Wednesday that would reduce its work force by 800 people worldwide, saving the business software maker $70-million annually once the plan is fully implemented. The company said the plan would focus on driving marketing efficiencies and improving productivity. It said the job cuts would affect all departments but the effect on its sales force would be minimal. Most of the reductions are expected to be completed by October.

SEARS TO BUY OR LEASE 50 KMARTS: Sears, Roebuck & Co., the largest U.S. department-store chain, said it will pay $575.9-million to acquire ownership or leasehold interest in 50 Kmart Holding Corp. stores. Sears will take possession of the stores, which are mostly based in densely populated areas, in 2005. Sears said it paid 30 percent of the price and will pay the rest when it takes over the stores.

AGERE TO CLOSE OR SELL ORLANDO PLANT: Agere Systems Inc., whose microchips are used in cell phones and computer disk drives, will cut 17 percent of its work force and end operations at an Orlando plant because of a slowdown in orders. About 1,100 workers worldwide will be fired, 500 immediately. The Orlando wafer plant that employs 600 people will be closed or sold by the end of next year.

BELO TO CUT 250 JOBS: Media owner Belo Corp. said Wednesday it would cut 250 jobs, more than half of them at its flagship newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, and an internal investigation into circulation overstatements showed the projected circulation decline at the newspaper would be slightly steeper than forecast last month. Belo said the layoffs, amounting to 3 percent of its work force, were prompted by flat revenue since 2001 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where it also owns a television station. The layoffs are expected by Nov. 1. Belo said the Morning News' circulation would fall 11.9 percent on Sundays and 5.1 percent on other days for the six months ended Sept. 30 compared to a year earlier. The company had said last month the declines would be 11.5 percent on Sundays and 5 percent other days.

WACHOVIA BUYS TANAGER: Wachovia Corp., the fifth-largest U.S. bank, said it agreed to buy Tanager Financial Services Inc. for an undisclosed sum, adding about $2-billion in assets to its money management business for wealthy families. Buying Tanager will boost the Wachovia unit's assets to about $12-billion and double the number of families it serves to 355, the bank said. Clients typically have more than $25-million to invest. Wachovia said it will take on Tanager's 47 employees when the acquisition is completed in the fourth quarter.

WAL-MART TO BUY BACK $10-BILLION IN COMPANY SHARES: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is launching a new share repurchase plan in which it will buy back $10-billion of company shares. The plan replaces a previous plan in which the company was buying back $7-billion worth of shares. The company said Wednesday that Wal-Mart's board approved the new plan. Wal-Mart had 4.24-billion shares outstanding, according to a Sept. 3 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Based on its closing share price Wednesday of $53, the buyback would cover 188-million shares, or 4.4 percent of the company's stock at current prices.

PHOTOSTAMPS PROGRAM HALTED: Stamps.com Inc., which sells postage stamps over the Internet, said the U.S. Postal Service has asked it to suspend its trial PhotoStamps program for evaluation. Stamps.com will stop taking orders Friday for PhotoStamps, which allow customers to turn their photographs into postage stamps, the company said. The Postal Service said it will decide within 90 days whether to allow the program to continue. During the seven-week test period, Stamps.com said it received orders for more than 2-million stamps.

T-NOTE YIELDS HIGHER: The U.S. Treasury sold $24-billion of two-year notes at a yield of 2.62 percent at its monthly auction, the highest since 2.797 percent at the July sale. At last month's auction, the notes yielded 2.494 percent.

TALBOTS CUTS EARNINGS FORECAST: Talbots Inc., the women's clothing retailer, cut its third-quarter earnings forecast Wednesday, citing low September sales. The apparel retailer now expects third-quarter earnings to be in the range of 45 cents to 50 cents a share, lower than the 60 cents a share reported a year earlier for the quarter ended Nov. 1.

EARNINGS

American Greetings Corp.

Licensing income helped boost American Greetings Corp. to a profit in its second quarter, even though sales at the greeting cards maker were flat. The company has initiated a quarterly dividend 6 cents per share.

3rd Qtr Year Ago

Revenue $391.9-mil $390.9-mil

Net Income $6.9-mil -$9.7-mil

Per Share 10 cents -15 cents

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