Random News - April 2001

The Final Frontier
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA. (April 22)- - More than 20,000 people poured into the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida to watch the launch of space shuttle Endeavour on Thursday, April 19. The crowd, which included NASCAR star Jeff Gordon, actor Warren Beatty, actress Annette Bening, Presidents Andres Pastrana of Colombia, Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, Gustavo Noboa of Ecuador and Valentin Paniagua of Peru, was the largest to see a liftoff since John Glenn's return to space in 1998. Endeavour's seven-astronaut crew is the most internationally diverse in the 20-year history of the U.S. shuttle program. Astronauts from the United States, Canada, Russia, and Italy are on the voyage. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield of is to become the first Canadian to make a spacewalk. Hadfield and American colleague Scott Parazynski will install Canadarn2, the most sophisticated robot ever launched into space.

Recession Hinders DuPont
WILMINGTON, DE. (April 20)- - DuPont Co. confirmed what the financial community had expected regarding its first quarter earnings. While the company met analysts estimates, the numbers clearly show the company suffering in the midst of a global economic recession. Compared to the same period one year ago, earnings in the first quarter of 2001 dropped 37 percent as a result of a slowing economy, high raw material costs, and poor results from its drug businesses. Earnings fell to $567 million, or 54 cents a share, within the range expected by analysts. In the same quarter one year ago, DuPont earned $898 million, or 85 cents a share. Pharmaceutical sales were off nearly 48 percent in the quarter, from $389 million to $205 million. DuPont officials said they expect global economic conditions to affect manufacturing in the second quarter as well, and possibly the remainder of the year. DuPont cut 4 percent of its global workforce earlier this month in response to weak U.S. apparel markets. The company's stock, which has ranged from $38 to $56 over the past year, underperformed the broader stock market in the first quarter. It lost about 15 percent in the first quarter compared with a drop of about 12 percent in the S&P 500. "The results were basically as expected in very difficult conditions," said Sergey Vasnetsov, an analyst with Lehman Brothers, who said few in the industry expect to see a recovery anytime soon. "The company has been very cautious looking ahead-- they don't believe they've seen the worst."

First Laps At Chicago
CHICAGO, IL. (April 17)- Jeff Gordon will participate in a two day test session at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois on Monday-Tuesday, May 7-8. The test is officially a tire test conducted by Goodyear in preparation for the inaugural Tropicana 400 on July 15. Joining Gordon for the tire testing session will be defending Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte.

DuPont Moves Onward
WILMINGTON, DE. (April 11)- - DuPont Co. recently issued its 2000 Annual Report to shareholders and the investment community. While CEO Chad Holliday praised the company's progress, strategies, and competitiveness in the face of global macroeconomic shortfalls, the company recently announced it would cut 5,000 jobs, or 4% of its workforce in textile and apparel markets to "accomplish long term changes." But the slowing economy also played a role, as DuPont cited weakening textile and apparel markets that were crimping its nylon, polyester and spandex fiber businesses. More than half of the job cuts are coming in those areas, the company said. Obviously this is a blend of both near-term cost cutting to help earnings in a tough operating environment, as well as some things they needed to do to make the company stronger, J.P. Morgan analyst Don Carson told The Wall Street Journal.

ChromaLusion and Looney Toons
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (April 4)- - When DuPont Automotive Finishes wanted to showcase its ChromaLusion paint in 1998, the company looked no farther than the Winston Cup team it sponsors. In May of that year, Jeff Gordon sported a ChromaLusion paint scheme in The Winston at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The car appeared to change color as the track lights reflected off of it. Though the event had a rather inauspicious conclusion for Gordon, the demand for diecast versions of the car was overwhelming. The following year, Gordon drove a Superman-themed ChromaLusion car in The Winston. The ChromaLusion scheme has remained as one of Gordon's favorite paint schemes. The next "rebirth" of ChromaLusion will occur in September's Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The promotional tie-in are the Looney Toons cartoon characters. The Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing drivers will have paint schemes featuring one of the cartoon characters. Bugs Bunny, Taz, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam, and Sylvester are the characters expected to take laps around the track at Richmond. The schemes are expected to be unveiled in May and the diecast is expected to ship in July. Night racing at Richmond is always an exciting event. In September, the addition of ChromaLusion and Looney Toons will elevate the excitement level to new heights.

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