Daily News from New York, New York on February 19, 2000 · 55
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Daily News from New York, New York · 55

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Saturday, February 19, 2000
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DOW JONES -295.05 10,219.52 For The Week -205.69 NASDAQ -137.18 4,411.74 For The Week 16.29 n The Ticker Fans swamp Internet site with advance orders Julia Roberts signs Joe Roth studio deal Former Disney studio chief Joe Roth and Julia Roberts are hooking up in a multi-year deal. The "Pretty Woman" star will appear in several Roth films and will also move her Shoelace Productions from Disney to his new company. The move marks a big step forward for Roth, who is setting out on his own after a five year run at Disney. The 51-year-old movie mogul is in the process of finding backers for his new studio, which is set to make five to 10 pictures a year. The studio boss left after clashing with Disney chairman Michael Eisner. Roth has been close with Roberts for years. "Basically, wherever Joe goes, I go," Roberts said. Higher prices Prices consumers paid for housing, fuel, recreation and medical care rose 0.3 in the New York-Northern New Jersey area last month. The overall increases were tempered by declines in clothing, electricity and motor vehicle costs. For the 12 months ended January 2000, the CPI for the area rose 2.4. MetLife okay Metropolitan Life Insurance got the okay from policyholders yesterday to continue its conversion to a publicly traded company and launch the U.S.'s largest-ever initial public offering. MetLife said some 93 of the policyholders approved the company's plan to drop its policyholder-owned mutual status and list on the New York Stock Exchange. MetLife now needs only the approval of the New York State Superintendent of Insurance expected in the next 30-60 days before it completes its conversion with its record-breaking $6.5 billion IPO planned for late March. Flight delays American West Airlines canceled some 128 flights yesterday and Thursday because of a glitch in the airline's computer system that prepares flight plans for pilots and crews. The glitch is the latest in an array of unrelated problems for the airline. US Airways impasse The Association of Right Attendants said yesterday the National Mediation Board had declared an impasse in its contract talks with US Airways, moving the dispute closer to a possible strike. The AFA represents about 10.000 flight attendants who have been in contract talks for more than three years with US Airways. Angry shareholders Casino giant Park Place Entertainment chairman Stephen Bollen-bach sold about $32 million worth of stock, nearly half his stock options, last week, spurring shareholders to demand his resignation, sources told Reuters. Bollenbach is also chief executive of Hilton Hotels. . ... . By YURI KAGEYAMA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Consumer interest in Sony's upgraded PlayStation video-game machine generated so much attention that the system's Internet site jammed yesterday, a company official said. The Sony PlayStation 2 doesn't go on sale in the U.S. until late this year, but it debuts in Japan March 4, and the company began taking advance orders on its Web site, causing it to collapse amid the enormous demand. Sony hopes to sell 1 million of the machines in Japan in its first shipment. The sales projections aren't too ambitious, given that worldwide PlayStation owners total 70 million, but distributing the machines may be a problem, analysts said. The Web site for advance orders received some 500,000 hits a minute yesterday and went down, Sony Computer Entertainment President Ken Kutaragi Follow the leaders said. "The orders were beyond our imagination. We are doing our utmost to get the site back up," Kutaragi said. The PlayStation 2 is more powerful than the current PlayStation and the Nintendo 64 game consoles. It is considered a deal at $360 because it is also a digital video disk player, which sells for about $630 in Japan. The PlayStation 2 can also By DANIELLE REED DAILY NEWS BUSINESS WRITER The New York Times just moved a big step closer to building itself a new home in Times Square by officially selecting a real estate developer for the project. The media company, which also owns the Boston Globe as well as 22 other newspapers and three magazines, announced it had chosen Forest City Ratner play compact discs. The PlayStation 2 rivals Sega Enterprises' Dreamcast, which went on sale in November 1998 in Japan and last year in the U.S. Both machines have a 128-bit processor, up from the 32-bit processor in the original PlayStation. The more bits a machine has the more sophisticated it is, allowing more memory and better graphics. Cos. "to explore building a new headquarters in Times Square." But keeping its options open, the Times stressed that choosing a developer was "not a commitment to build." The Times, long headquartered at 229 W. 43rd St. between Seventh and Eighth avenues, has been in talks with government officials and developers since last year about building a new tower at a site on W. 41st Sony now accounts for about 60 of the U.S. game machine market, while Nintendo holds more than 30 and Sega controls less than 5. Japanese game fans will get a taste today of some of the new PlayStation software with film-quality graphics at an event near Tokyo. Crowds are expected to turn out to try the 28 titles in combat, action, war-simulation, sports and other genres. Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Building a new tower would allow the company to centralize its operations, now spread throughout several buildings across Manhattan. The proposed 41st Street site is now occupied by several small buildings that would have to be condemned by the state before any new construction could begin. Don't buy if execs are selling Mhen I go online on the Internet, I often check insider buying and selling not to be confused with insider trading, the illegal dealing in stock based on information not available to the public. But where insider buying and selling is concerned, the insiders are top executives and directors of companies. When they buy stock in their own company, they are making a bet on its success, but when they sell, they sometimes are making a bet against it. Because they have special knowledge, insiders must file a record of their trades with the SEC. These records are available online at many sites, and they are worth checking particular ly if you are interested in investing in some of the high-flying Internet stocks. Many of these stocks are now being inundated with massive insider selling. Before you buy, you'll want to know if it is the management that is unloading its shares. I check insider buying and selling online through Yahoo! After clicking on the name of a company, I click on the tab marked "Insider." There is a complete record of all transactions, including the insider's name, date, nature of the transaction, number of shares and price. (Check out your own company it it's publicly traded and see what the big bosses are doing.) In looking at insider buying or selling, two factors are important: the number of people and the number of shares. You can ignore small transactions. But when many insiders are trading large quantities, their actions are often a good clue to the future of the stock. When insiders buy stock, they are increasing their reliance on their company. If something goes wrong, they may not only lose their investment, they may also lose their jobs. Few will make this bet unless they really believe in the company's future GUERRILLA INVESTING c Because they focus on the fundamentals, must hold the stock for long periods of time and have restrictions on selling, insiders tend to be early buyers. If many start buying a stock that Wall Street analysts do not like, it can be a good sign that a company is turning around. If insider buying is a sign that business is improving, insider selling can be a sign that it is heading down. If large numbers of insiders are bailing out, it is wise to look for signs of trouble. (If your boss is selling all his shares, he is sending you a message.) When insiders sell, companies often justify their actions by saying things like, "The chairman wants to give money to charity." "The president wants to build a -new house." Or "The chief financial officer needs to pay for his kid's college tuition." ... I am all for endowing charities. I think . :.4.vfe!4j that company presidents should have big y t new vacation houses. And far be it from me to deprive the child of a chief financial officer of a good college education. You may be pleased that an executive is living the American dream. But the executive could probably have bought a house, donated to charity or paid for college by borrowing money or saving a little more. When an executive sells, that executive is making a bet against the company. If the stock is not good enough for the executive, why should it be good enough for you? When many executives sell at the same time, it is rarely a coincidence. While they may all have college age kids, they are simply saying their stock is over- Z-priced. In many of these cases, earnings disappointments follow shortly thereafter. A good rule I have always followed is if the executives dont want their stock, neither do I. The most concentrated example of insider selling often comes in stock offerings sold by brokerage firms. When companies file offerings, they must detail who is selling. If the companies are selling new stock to finance growth, that's all well and good, but if much of the offering is insiders selling stock, do you really ,. want to participate? I dont.., Times eyeing new Times Sq. home " "SShjrriaif S-30am-3:3Qrjiri 1 8-30am-33am L -1.

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