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Business Briefing

EARNINGS

AMD posts its first profit in three years

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. posted its first quarterly profit in three years because it got $1.25 billion in a legal settlement with its archrival.

The world’s No. 2 maker of computer microprocessors said it would have lost money if not for the payment it received from Intel Corp. to squash a long-running antitrust battle.

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The Sunnyvale company said after the market closed that it made $1.2 billion, or $1.52 a share, in the quarter that ended Dec. 26. It lost $1.4 billion, or $2.36, in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue increased 42% to $1.6 billion.

Western Digital beats estimates

Hard disk drive maker Western Digital Corp. posted a sharp increase in its fiscal second-quarter profit as sales grew amid a recovery in the technology sector and the company trimmed costs.

Based in Lake Forest, Western Digital earned $429 million, or $1.85 a share, in the quarter ended Jan. 1, up from $14 million, or 6 cents, a year earlier. Year-earlier results were weighed down by $113 million in restructuring charges. Revenue rose 44% to $2.62 billion. The results easily beat estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who expected a profit of $1.36 a share on sales of $2.35 billion.

Shares closed up $1.03, or 2.3%, at $45.29 before the results were released. They slipped as much as 38 cents in after-hours trading.

COMPUTER SECURITY

Microsoft fixes browser flaw

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Microsoft Corp. took the unusual step of issuing an unscheduled fix for security holes in its Internet Explorer browser that played a role in the recent computer attacks that led Google Inc. to threaten to leave China.

The updates are for all supported versions of Internet Explorer, from IE 5.01 up through the newest IE 8.

People whose computers are set to install security updates automatically will get the patch with no action required. Others can download it at www.microsoft.com/security.

COURTS

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Vivendi ex-CEO to stand trial

Vivendi’s former chief executive will stand trial in France starting June 2 on charges of misleading investors over the company’s financial health while he was transforming the once-stodgy water utility into a high-flying film, music and pay-TV conglomerate.

Jean-Marie Messier, a onetime star of the French business world, and six other former top Vivendi executives were ordered to stand trial after an investigation opened in 2002, following a complaint by investors alleging that they had been misled into buying or holding Vivendi stock.

The six others charged in the case include Edgar Bronfman Jr. and former Chief Financial Officer Guillaume Hannezo.

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Ernst ex-partners get prison terms

Two former partners of the accounting firm Ernst & Young each have been sentenced in New York to more than two years in prison after they were convicted of criminal tax shelter charges.

Robert Coplan and Martin Nissenbaum were sentenced in federal court in Manhattan. Coplan received a three-year prison term; Nissenbaum received a 2 1/2 -year term.

They were among four defendants convicted last May of conspiracy, tax evasion and other charges related to the design, marketing and implementation of tax shelters sold by Ernst & Young.

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Prosecutors said the tax shelters generated billions of dollars in paper tax losses that were used to offset actual income. Tax shelters are used by wealthy individuals to eliminate, reduce or defer tax liabilities on annual income.

-- times wire reports


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