Ups and downs Featured

1:17pm EDT February 26, 2002
(UPS) to Eddie Edwards for the launch of Edwards Broadcasting Inc., a venture designed to acquire broadcasting properties throughout the United States. It was only a few years ago that the well-known African American businessman couldn't get membership in a local country club until a brouhaha erupted in the media. The question now is, will he get tuned out again?

(DOWNS) to PNC Financial Services Group on its decision to revise its 2001 earnings down after objections raised by the Federal Reserve. Oddly enough, both Enron and PNC hold the naming rights to baseball parks in their respective home cities. We trust PNC is simply exercising prudence and playing ball with the regulators, but the specter of a debacle in Pittsburgh anywhere close to the proportions of the Enron mess is disturbing.

(UPS) to the Appliance Warehouse for opening a second location, this one in Washington, Pa. The retailer of new, reconditioned and "scratch-and-dent" appliances demonstrates spunk in a marketplace where big box retailers are pushing on one side and thrift stores on the other, surrounded by an uncertain economy. Oh, and it's chosen former Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff as its spokesperson. That's should get some attention.

(DOWNS) to the lapse of an option held by Walnut Capital Partners and North Side parking executive Merrill Stabile to build a five-story entertainment and office complex on the North Side. The boom promised by the opening of Heinz Field and PNC Park looks like another victim of a tentative economy. The good news, though, is that the developers say they're still looking for tenants for the project, even though they would have to attempt to renegotiate the option.

(UPS) to Stargate for landing another $2.5 million in equity funding from Alta Communications, a Boston-based investor that's already put $10.5 million into the company.

(UPS) to Advanced Acoustic Concepts, a seven-employee technology firm in Fayette County that has landed a $12 million defense contract that will allow it to expand its work force to as many as 100 employees by the end of 2004.

(UPS) to Pittsburgh for its rating as the fastest-growing "wired" city in the nation in 2001, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, a firm that does market research on online usage.

(DOWNS) to Allegheny County government for fumbling the property tax assessment process. Instead of scrapping the antiquated tax system and coming up with a more equitable arrangement, the county persists in trying to fix the irreparable, creating confusion and consternation in the process.

(DOWNS) to Cellomics Inc. and Demegen Inc., two biotech companies that trimmed their operations, including cutting employees, to improve their financial performance. Both have been considered bright stars in the region's biotech sector, where hopes are high for growth of the local economy. We're hoping they don't burn out.

(UPS) to Parker/Hunter Inc. on its 100th anniversary. The investment firm traces its roots to Kay, Richards & Co., a stock brokerage founded in Pittsburgh in 1902. And that's how many business cycles, exactly?

(DOWNS) to Amtrak's threats to shut down all three of its long-distance routes that serve Pittsburgh unless it gets $1.2 billion in federal funding next year. The Bush administration has $521 million on the table for Amtrak for fiscal 2003, which begins in October, the same amount the passenger rail operator has received from the feds for the past three years. We think both sides are blowing smoke, but who's really off-track here?

(UPS) to UPMC's Pittsburgh Cancer Institute's anticipated six contracts with major pharmaceutical companies. The contract the new deals are modeled after, one with Eli Lilly & Co., brings about $1.5 million to the Cancer Institute. That's a big boost for local biotech if the deals consummate.

(UPS) to FedEx's better-than-expected earnings forecast for its most recent quarter, which ended Feb. 28. It's a refreshing winner in an economy where losers get the most attention.

(DOWNS) to Milton Meyer & Co.'s Chapter 11 filing. The company operates the Family Toy stores in five states. It's another casualty, we're afraid, of the big box retailers, a lackluster holiday season and a sagging economy.