GE to pay $50 million to settle SEC case

General Electric Co. will pay a $50 million civil penalty to settle charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accusing the company of improper accounting in order to make financial results appear more attractive to investors. The SEC said Tuesday that GE violated U.S. securities laws four times between 2002 and 2003 when accounting for items like commercial paper funding and the sale of locomotives and aircraft engine spare parts. The SEC said the changes helped GE maintain a string of earnings that beat Wall Street expectations each quarter from 1995 through 2004. The Fairfield, Conn.-based GE doesn't admit or deny the allegations, but said that it corrected its financial statements.

CAT CEO optimistic

Caterpillar Inc. CEO Jim Owens said Tuesday that the heavy equipment maker was poised to benefit from a global economic recovery, but that it will remain profitable even if the recession lingers. In a meeting with analysts gathered at the company's Peoria, Ill., headquarters, Caterpillar backed its 2009 forecast and said it anticipates profit of $8 to $10 per share within five years if the world economy recovers and $2.50 per share annually if the recession drags on.

Seagate to close Singapore factory

Hard disk maker Seagate Technologies said Tuesday that it plans to shut its Singapore factory by the end of next year to cut costs. About 2,000 workers will be affected by the plant closure, with some offered jobs at other Seagate operations in Singapore, while others will be given severance payments, the company said. Seagate, headquartered in Scotts Valley, Calif., last month raised its fiscal first-quarter revenue projection after reporting a fiscal fourth-quarter loss.

Milwaukee newspaper cuts more jobs

The publisher of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is cutting 92 jobs as the advertising slump continues to ravage the newspaper business. The cuts represent 6.2 percent of the workforce at Journal Sentinel Inc. It includes 37 voluntary buyouts in the Journal Sentinel newsroom. The job cuts will take effect this month. Journal Communications Inc., which owns Journal Sentinel Inc., said it plans to take a charge of $4 million to $5.5 million in the second half of the year as a result of the Sentinel job cuts as well as layoffs in printing services and direct marketing.