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Alcoa shares fall to new low for year

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

Philadelphia Shares of Alcoa Inc. fell Friday to a new year low after the world’s largest aluminum maker said late Thursday its third-quarter earnings will fall far short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Alcoa’s shares fell $1.48, or 5.7 percent, to close at $24.42 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. It had fallen as low as $23.81. The stock had previously traded in a 52-week range between $25.55 and $34.99.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa reported after the market’s close Thursday that third-quarter income from continuing operations should be between 27 cents and 31 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting a 43 cent-per-share profit when Alcoa announces financial results on Oct. 10.

Alcoa blamed lower aluminum prices and higher costs, particularly in energy and raw materials. Seasonal weakness in Europe and automotive markets also hurt business.

Alcoa also said Hurricane Rita’s impact will hurt third-quarter results. The company was forced to close its Point Comfort, Texas, alumina refinery and the Lake Charles, La., anode plant because of the hurricane. The storm is currently moving across the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday.

Major design complete for Boeing’s 787

Everett, Wash. Boeing Co. said Friday it had finalized the major design elements — including structural, propulsion and systems architectures — for its new 787 jetliner.

The completion of the airplane’s firm configuration will allow engineers to start more detailed design work on the new airplane.

Boeing plans to begin production of the twin-engine, fuel-efficient 787 in 2006, and commercial airlines are expected to begin flying the planes in 2008. With the new airplane, Chicago-based Boeing is competing against rival Airbus SAS’s proposed A350.

Palm teams with Microsoft on smart phone

San Francisco Palm Inc. is teaming up with Microsoft Corp. to launch a Windows-based version of the Treo smart phone, marking the first time the handheld computer pioneer will sell a device based on its former rival’s software.

The new Treo 700 will be offered through Verizon Wireless, according to market analyst Rob Enderle and other industry sources.

“In terms of the level of importance, this would be — in this space — the same thing as Apple announcing they were going to be using Intel processors,” Enderle said.

The three companies have scheduled a press conference for Monday. Spokesmen for Palm, Verizon Wireless and Microsoft declined to comment.

The new device will run on Windows Mobile 5.0, the latest version of the operating system that has been challenging Palm OS for years.

Though the Palm OS dominated the industry, its lead has steadily lost ground to Microsoft’s offering, which is based on that company’s ubiquitous Windows desktop PC software and thus familiar to more people.

Users, especially in the corporate world, have been lured to Windows-based handhelds because they can run several programs at once and offer better support for documents created on Windows PCs and for Microsoft e-mail.

As well, the Palm operating system that Treos have until now run exclusively have more limited multitasking abilities.

In the third quarter of last year, devices running Microsoft’s software outsold those with Palm OS for the first time, according to the research firm Gartner Inc.

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