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Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Windstorm insurance claims $220 million total

Last month's windstorm in the Northwest did about $220 million in damage to insured property, a leading trade group said Tuesday.

About 57,500 claims have been filed so far, resulting in insured losses of $170 million in Washington and $50 million in Oregon, according to the Seattle-based NW Insurance Council.

That makes the storm one of the costliest in decades for the Northwest. The Inauguration Day storm of Jan. 20, 1993, caused $244 million damage in 2006 inflation-adjusted dollars.

Aerospace

Boeing supplier will be sold

TransDigm Group of Cleveland said Tuesday it has a definitive agreement to buy Aviation Technologies of Seattle, whose Avtech unit is among the larger locally based aerospace suppliers.

TransDigm said it will pay approximately $430 million to acquire Aviation Technologies from Odyssey Investment Partners of New York.

Aviation Technologies employs about 600, and supplies components to Boeing and Airbus, as well as regional jet makers Embraer and Canadair. Current work includes the audio system for the Boeing 787 as well as "various lighting, power and control, and avionics display products on the Airbus A380," said a company statement.

TransDigm said the acquired operations had 2006 revenues of $105 million, with approximately $35 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Icos

Lilly won't raise $34-a-share offer

Eli Lilly & Co., bidding to acquire Bothell-based Icos, doesn't intend to raise its $34-a-share offer, criticized by an Icos holder as too low, the drugmaker's president said.

"Thirty-four dollars is the full, fair and final price," said John Lechleiter, Lilly's president and chief operating officer, in an interview Tuesday after a presentation at an investor conference in San Francisco.

HealthCor Management, the fifth-biggest holder of Icos shares, said in a filing Monday that it will vote against the proposed $2.28 billion transaction at a shareholder meeting Jan. 25. Lilly's offer for Icos "does not represent adequate compensation," the New York-based hedge fund said.

Lilly raised its offer to $34 on Dec. 18 after initially bidding $32 a share.

Oregon Steel Mills

U.S. approves takeover by Evraz

Evraz Group, Russia's biggest steelmaker, won U.S. national security approval for its $2.3 billion takeover of Portland-based Oregon Steel Mills, the government said.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. said in an e-mailed statement that it did not find fault with the proposed acquisition, the biggest by a Russian company in the U.S. The interagency panel includes a Department of Homeland Security representative.

As of Dec. 27, stockholders with 9.6 million Oregon shares, or 27 percent of the company's outstanding shares, have agreed to the offer, Evraz said.

Cray

Computer maker meets forecast

Supercomputer maker Cray had fourth-quarter sales of about $100 million and said profit met a November forecast.

Sales for all of 2006 were about $220 million, Seattle-based Cray said Tuesday, citing preliminary data. As forecast, the fourth quarter is expected to be "solidly profitable," the company said.

Microsoft

Patches ready for Windows, Office

Microsoft released three security patches for its Office line of software and one for the Windows operating system on Tuesday, fixing holes that could let an outsider take control of an unwitting victim's computer.

Two of the Office vulnerabilities and the Windows hole were deemed critical, the company's highest threat level. The fourth, rated "important," affects only versions of Office with a Brazilian Portuguese grammar analyzer.

One of the critical vulnerabilities can be found in Microsoft's latest Web browser, Internet Explorer 7. But none affects Microsoft's new Office 2007 or Windows Vista packages, which have been released to business customers.

Users with Microsoft's automatic-updates feature will get the patches sent to their computers. Other users should visit Microsoft's security Web pages.

Futures trading

Seattle trader fined $600,000

A Seattle futures trader will pay more than $600,000 to settle claims he boasted of his financial prowess while selling bad advice, even after he was accused of financial misconduct, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said.

Cameron S. Ownbey told clients from 2001 to 2003 he achieved returns as high as 350 percent "year after year" while selling advice that caused at least 31 customers to lose money, the CFTC said in a statement Tuesday. He charged clients $5,500 for a year's worth of tips.

Ownbey began those claims in weekly e-mails a few months before the regulator filed its first case against him in July 2001 for similar misconduct in the late 1990s, the CFTC said.

Ownbey neither admitted nor denied the allegations, court records show. He agreed to an order barring him from working as a commodities futures trader.

Nation and World

Alcoa

Prices, demand drive up profit

Aluminum producer Alcoa on Tuesday said fourth-quarter profit jumped 60 percent, driven by higher metal prices and strong market demand. But the results fell short of some analysts' expectations.

Net income increased to $359 million, or 41 cents per share, from $224 million, or 26 cents per share, during the same period a year earlier. The results include after-tax charges of $386 million, or 44 cents per share, for costs related to restructuring.

Income from continuing operations was $258 million, or 29 cents per share.

Revenue grew 20 percent to $7.84 billion from $6.54 billion a year ago.

The earnings results fell short of Wall Street expectations, but revenue exceeded analysts' estimates. On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of 65 cents per share on sales of $7.63 billion.

Alcoa shares rose 4 cents to $28.52 Tuesday.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, The Associated Press and Bloomberg News

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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