The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 13, 1999 · Page 56
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September 13, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 56

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Monday, September 13, 1999
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THE PALM BEACH POST SEPTEMBER 13, 1999 3 mm DETAILING Online index shows health of health firms Share prices of health care companies that do big business in Florida are down 17 percent since the beginning of the year. That's according to an index created by the Agency for Health Care Administration in Tallahassee and unveiled last week. The agency devised the 16-stock index as a financial tool to help monitor the health of health care in the state. Only one of the indexed companies Foundation Health of Maitland is based in the state. The others include insurance companies and HMOs such as Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna (NYSE: AET), hospital owners such as Nashville, Tenn.-based Columbia HCA Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: COL) and nursing home owners such as Fort Smith, Ark-based Beverly Enterprises (NYSE: BEV). "For most of these companies, if Florida is not their biggest revenue producer, it's their second," said agency spokesman John Noble Jr. "How goes Florida is how goes your company to a large extent." The index is at www.fdhc.state.fl.us stocks. The average stock price of six managed care companies on the index is up 5 percent for the year, Noble said. Five indexed hospital chains are down 39 percent, and five nursing home chains are down 47 percent. John Murawski TVf If Place your bid online for the best CD rate The mundane certificate of deposit has joined the technological revolution, thanks to a Philadelphia bank. Since April, USABancShares of Philadelphia has let CD depositors bid on rates through its Web site at www.CDenergy.com. The result: CD rates that are higher than market rates by a half percentage point or more. Here's how it works: USABancShares opens bidding every day at noon on one of seven CD terms between 6 months and four years. Bidding starts at 10 percent, and potential depositors bid down from there. Bidding closes at noon the following day, and the winner mails a check. Most depositors opt for $1,000 CDs, said Brian Hartline, chief operating officer of USABancShares. But the amounts can go as high as $10,000. The typical rate is 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent, Hartline said. That's higher than the 5.7 percent national average on a five-year CD, according to bankrate.com, a division of Intelligent life Corp. of North Palm Beach. Doing business online lets the bank offer higher rates, Hartline said. "There's no bricks and mortar," he said. "It's an efficient way to accumulate deposits." Hartline wouldn't say how much USABancShares has collected through the online auction. The CDs are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Jeff Ostrowski FINANCES Financial institutions slow to answer e-mail E-mail your banker or broker, and chances are you won't get a response within a day. So says a recent survey by Jupiter Communications of New York. Online bankers and brokers might enjoy exponential growth, but their customer service isn't keeping pace, Jupiter says. The tech research firm's latest customer service survey tested the responsiveness of 125 Web sites from five business sectors, including 25 banks, brokers, mortgage firms and other financial services institutions. Jupiter e-mailed the firms, pretending to be a customer. The firm found that only 39 percent of financial services sites responded to customers' queries in one day. By contrast, 64 percent of retail shopping sites responded within a day. Jupiter analyst Rob Sterling says online financial services companies should pay more attention to customers especially when the industry considers its massive potential for growth. Jupiter predicts that online brokerages' assets will grow to $3 trillion by the end of 2003, up from $415 billion at the end of 1998. Jupiter also expects the number of homes with online trading accounts to hit 20 million in 2003, up from 4 million last year. Jeff Ostrowski Americans hit the road to see sporting events Two-fifths of U.S. adults have traveled 50 miles or more to attend a sporting event, usually baseball, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. In the past five years, 75.3 million adults went to a game, with professional and amateur sports equally attended, the survey of 240,000 adults found. Football, basketball and auto or truck racing followed baseball in popularity. Fifty-two percent of the sports travelers spent the night and two out of five sports travelers bought special equipment or clothes for a trip, spending an average of $119. One-fourth of these travelers hit the road to see their children or grandchildren play. Stephanie Smitf BOB SHANLEYStatf Photographer The Town Center mall near Boca Raton is adding more than 2,500 parking spots. There's still a lot of work to do Been to the Town Center mall near Boca Raton lately and felt like you had to park in Delray Beach? You can put away your walking shoes. The mall, which lost at least 1,000 parking spaces during a major renovation, will add 2,560 spots. About 1,200 outside Saks and Burdi-nes will be available in October, and 1,360 more will open next fall when Nordstrom becomes the mall's sixth anchor. The 2,560 spots will give the mall about 9,000 parking spaces. In the meantime, shoppers can pay $3 each for valet service. The mall's parking crunch could have been a bit worse. The Palm Beach County Penn State alumni club recently asked whether 40 fans could park at the mall when they take a bus to the Miami-Penn State football game this Saturday. Mall officials politely said no. Paul Owers l!01E0W"EgS Will Congress flush low-flow toilets? Low-flow toilets are not exactly flush with success. In fact, 75 percent of homeowners and 78 percent of builders and property managers reported problems with the low-flow toilets, according to the National Association of Home Builders' research center. The toilets, which use 1.6 gallons a flush as opposed to the 3.2 gallons of older units, were required by the Department of Energy in 1992 as a water conservation measure. But NAHB reports that multiple flushes are needed and that the toilets clog and overflow often. A bill to do away with the low-flow requirement is pending in Congress. Ava Van de Water Annual Top 50 section set for next week Next Monday, Inside Business will be devoted to The Palm Beach Post Top 50 Public Companies in our area. This special 72-page section will include stories about the public companies in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, profiles of the top companies and photos of the top executives, as well as financial charts. Well also look at the top national companies that have a significant presence in our area. " Tom Peelinf

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