The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on May 17, 1995 · 47
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · 47

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Atlanta, Georgia
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Wednesday, May 17, 1995
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47
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Wednesday, May 17, 1995 Cable rates House panel ready to OK deregulation I! Weather In this section .'! E3 fi) The Atlanta Journal The Atlanta Constitution MinoritySmall Business f$ Georgia Stocks ES Th3 Msrlcets E4 Dow average -2.42 Nasdaq 5.19 Prime rate 9.0 26-week T-bills 5.69 fil) I MARIA SAPORTA DOT appears to be keeping eyes on road Is the Georgia Department of Transportation turning back into the highway department? Over the past few years, Georgia DOT Commissioner Wayne Shackelford has brought a new voice to the department, calling for a balanced transportation system that includes roads, rail, air, ships and buses. That paralleled the sentiment in Washington, that state governments should develop several modes of transportation to improve air quality and conserve energy. But now the Georgia DOT seems to be changing its tune. In March, the agency adopted a resolution drafted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, of which Shackelford happens to be president. The resolution stressed that "improvement and expansion of the nation's road system remain a paramount goal of any plan adopted by Congress." And it noted that "many varied transportation interests are seeking to influence the national transportation plan so as to downgrade the importance of the nation's road system." Another sign of a fading commitment to a balanced transportation policy is the draft memo of understanding between DOT and the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority. The authority, which began work last year, has broad autonomous powers. But at a meeting today, the authority is expected to vote on whether to make all of its projects subject to approval by the state DOT. Basically, that would take away the authority's power. "I would not support any resolution to abdicate any powers from the Passenger Rail Authority to the staff of the DOT," said Dave Chesnut, a DeKalb attorney who is on the authority. "I don't know anyone who is part of the authority who initiated that resolution." For whatever reason, all of Georgia's rail-related projects, from the downtown multimodal station to commuter rail plans, have gone nowhere. "I hope that neither the pub lic nor the pnvate sector is los-' ing its focus on the need for Atlanta's future transportation system to use multiple modes of transportation," said James B. Carson Jr., who heads transportation issues for the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. A.W. "Bill" Dahlberg, CEO of Southern Co. and Atlanta Chamber chairman, is concerned ebout the change in direction. "It really raises the question of how other modes of transportation can get a fair hearing," he said. Celebrating First Night When First Night began in ' Boston in 1976, founder Zeren Earls had no idea it would spread across the country. About 150 cities now celebrate First Night as a cultural, nonalcoholic way of ushering in the New Year. Earls was in Atlanta on Tuesday to pass on ideas to the Midtown Alliance, which puts on First Night Atlanta. "I think you've got a won derful foundation for this event, and you have great potential," said Earls, who recommended that Atlanta include more cultural diversity in the event. Maria Saporta's column, wjth assis-. tance from Connie mayberry, op-peets Tuesday through Saturday. p n A sin i J & nap, hut stock M Retailer a victim of expectations By Chris Roush STAFF WRITER Wall Street slapped Home Depot Inc. Tuesday despite a 13 percent increase in first-quarter earnings and a 24 percent rise in sales because it fell 4 cents a share shy of analysts' expectations. In extremely heavy trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Home Depot closed at $41.25, down $2.25, or 5.2 percent. Last quarter, Wall Street pushed its stock down 10 percent for falling short 1 cent. "I'm not surprised," said Ronald M. Brill, Home Depot's chief financial officer. "Our earnings were less than what was expected." For the quarter ended April 28, the Atlanta-based home improvement retailer posted net income of $157.8 million, or 34 cents a share, up from $139.7 million, or 31 cents a year ago. Sales increased to $3.57 billion from $2.87 billion. Home Depot blamed the weather not the economy saying it affected more than one-third of the company's 350 stores, said Brill. That prompted homeowners to delay projects. The company blames the weather, not the economy. "You cannot compete with Mother Nature, and she's been very cruel this year," said Brill. Home Depot's 38 Los Angeles stores, its largest market, had a 12 percent increase in sales for February. In March, sales were flat because of 6 inches of rain. And in the San Francisco Bay area, sales at 19 stores went from a 12 percent increase in February to an 8 percent decrease in March because of rain that was six times more than normal. Brill anticipates strong sales in the second quarter but added, "Mother Nature is still not cooperating." Three Dallas stores were recently damaged by softball-sized hail, and a Home Depot in Ken-ner, La., was forced to close last week because of flooding, he said. Other New Orleans area stores also were damaged by the floods. Robinson-Humphrey analyst Dan Wewer believes "the economy may have had some impact" Wewer predicts Home Depot's second-quarter earnings, usually its strongest, will grow 23 percent to 48 cents per share. Typically, Home Depot has increased earnings at a 30 percent clip. "We think they can grow at 3ff percent for about two more years," said Wewer. "Then 'ft may begin to slow." ' ' : Home Depot reported a"!' percent increase in custontef transactions for the quarter., The average purchase rose 4 percent to $42.17, but sales-per-square-foot dropped 3 percent to $395 .50.' Home Depot opened 19 stores and relocated three others, hone in Georgia, during the quarter? The company entered Birmingham with two stores. !y Home Depot expects to spend as much as $12 million this year to expand its Expo, Crossroads and international operations, Brill said. It spent $2.1 million in the first quarter. ' '.V Adding fizz to Las Vegas' glitz t . ""' "I r ' I ; ' Ml 111 I I 'in -ii Ill II...- -- . . i- I I - tt.i.,11 ..,.. ,n.l. .1 Ill Coca-Cola Co. A glass Coca-Cola bottle 100 feet tall will beckon tourists to the Coca-Cola Oasis, a shopping and entertainment complex scheduled to open by mid-1 996 on the Las Vegas Strip. Coca-Cola to build retail attraction on neon-lined Strip By Chris Roush STAFF WRITER Move over, Wayne Newton. Take a. seat, 01' Blue Eyes. Coca-Cola Co. is doing Vegas. The Atlanta-based soft drink giant is gambling that a glass Coca-Cola bottle 100 feet tall will beckon tourists to the Coca-Cola Oasis, an entertainment and retail attraction scheduled to open on the famous Strip by mid-1996. Coca-Cola won't say how much it will spend on the 25,000-square-foot Oasis which will anchor a retail complex and won't let customers gamble money, just spend it. But the massive bottle will be the first trademarked consumer product on Las Vegas Bou levard, a street known for its showy often ostentatious neon lights. "There's a new part of selling soft drinks," explained Jesse Meyers, editor of trade publication Beverage Digest. "It's not just the business of concentrate and packaging. I have personally watched people buy thousands of dollars of Coca-Cola home appliances and accouterments." The Oasis is the third venture for Coca-Cola Attractions, a subsidiary. It operates the World of Coca-Cola Pavilion, a museum and retail store near Underground Atlanta, and Coca-Cola Fifth Avenue, a 3,000-square-foot retail store in Manhattan. At the Oasis, the bottle will house elevators to transport visitors to the store's four floors, which will include attractions such as a futuristic soda fountain, a three-story wall of solid ice, merchandise and displays of rare Coca-Cola memorabilia. A retail store will take 6,000 square feet. The Oasis also will house interactive video kiosks and other entertainment attractions "currently under development," said spokesman Rob Baskin. "Vegas has really become a family destination," said Baskin, noting it drew 28 million visitors last year. "There's a lot of stuff to do out there, and the demographics are moving our way." Coca-Cola is exploring other retail stores and attractions, he said, but isn't ready to provide details. Turner lands a cable deal to enter India .'1 .71 ."J Milestone: Several US. channels rC have tried to crack the market, bii; an arm of CNN will be the first'"' By Charles Haddad STAFF WRITER Turner Broadcasting System Inc. has become the first U.S. cable programmer to crack the Indian market, winning a significant victory for itself and its industry. Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narashima Rao lias approved an agreement that will permit the interna tional arm of Turner Broadcasting's CNN news' channel to beam across the Indian subcontinent' ' Turner Broadcasting officials, however, won't comment. They still have representatives in India finalizing the deal. "' With some 40 million television households; India is considered one of the biggest potential markets for U.S. cable programmers. About 25 percent of those homes have cable TV and could receive' CNNI, CNN's overseas edition. 'A) CNNI has 21 million international viewers, with about half of that in Asia. : Nearly all of the major U.S. cable channels;' iti-eluding MTV and HBO, have been negotiating to eh ter India. CNNI is the first, following two years of tough negotiations. " ' In a deal with Indian state broadcaster Doordar-shan, CNNI will get a slot on Insat 2B satellite. This satellite covers the Indian subcontinent, which includes Pakistan and Bangladesh. 1 ' CNNI will be the only non-Indian programmer on the satellite. ' As part of the deal, CNN's Indian broadcast will include a half-hour every six hours of Indian news programming produced by Doordarshan. ' Reaching Asia CNNI's victory is part of a larger effort by Tui ner Broadcasting to sell its news and entertainment programming in Asia. Launched last October, the company's movies and cartoons, packaged as one channel called TNTCartoon, have not fared as well as the longer-established CNNI. '- So far, TNTCartoon has garnered about 1 miU lion subscribers. L HBO 8c Co. to buy rival health care information provider; By Andy Miller STAFF WRITER HBO & Co. said Tuesday it would acquire Charlotte-based Health Systems Group, a unit of First Data Corp., for more than $180 million in stock. Atlanta-based HBOC, with 1994 revenue of $327.2 million, is the nation's second-largest provider of health care information systems and services. The deal would appear to bring it much closer to the largest company, Pennsylvania-based Shared Medical Systems. The acquisition, for about 4 million shares of HBOC stock, would be worth about $185.5 million at Tuesday's HBOC closing price of $46.37Vi. The stock hit a 52-week high Monday of $48.75. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is to close in June. According to a news release, Health Systems Group would operate as a business unit under the HBOC umbrella. HSG had 1994 revenue of about $121 million, and has more than 500 customers. The acquisition is the latest in a series for HBOC. Last year the company bought rival IBAX Healthcare Systems, and since has added to its software product line with other deals. The company has more than 2,100 hospital customers. It holds a large share of the market of hospitals with 500 or more .beds, which are expected to survive industry consolidation. The HSG purchase appears to be "buying market share, and a customer base you can convert to many of your products," said analyst Stephen Shook of InterstateJohnson Lane. First Data, based in Hacken- sack, N.J., said it is selling tb Health Systems unit as part of its strategy of focusing on its core,fi nancial services unit ' 'rs The transaction has echoes bl a past Atlanta-related deah In 1992, Health Systems bought an-' other metro Atlanta hospital soft ware company, Gerber Alley;.' Bloomberg Business News contrite uted to this article. ' ! mm Forrestal's views on the economy While the economy is on the "right flight path" toward a soft landing, it won't be achieved this year, says Atlanta Fed chief Robert P. For-restal, who is retiring Jan. 1. Article, E2. ; ! Giving Georgia exports a boost Automated Logic Corp. of Kennesaw is the kind of success story Georgia hopes to repeat with an effort to help small- to medium-sized businesses export more products. Article, E3. r Check out the Georgia 1 00, our .'. second annual ranking of the state's' public companies. From No. 100 up to No. I , we report how the companies stack up in performance.' In Section f c II

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