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BRIEFCASE HIKE IN THQ INC.'S PROFITS PREDICTED.

Byline: - Staff and Wire Services

CALABASAS - Video-game maker THQ Inc.'s stock rose 11 percent Tuesday after a Wall Street analyst said the company is poised for a pickup in profits heading toward a crowded holiday market.

Credit Suisse First Boston based its call on a 41 percent surge in Calabasas-based THQ sales for May, and on one of the company's newest releases - movie tie-in ``Finding Nemo'' - which it said is off to a good start.

``There could be considerable upside to estimates for this year,'' wrote CSFB analyst Heath Terry.

The analyst raised his price target on the stock to $22 from $16.50.

THQ's sales for the first two months of its fiscal first quarter ending June 30 rose 38 percent, Terry said.

Analysts expect THQ to post a fiscal first-quarter loss of 11 cents a share on revenue of $78.5 million, and full-year earnings of 82 cents on revenue of $522.8 million, according to Thomson First Call.

Power: Hertz, Avis tops with renters

WESTLAKE VILLAGE - The two largest rental car companies located at airports, Avis and Hertz, tied for the top spot in overall satisfaction in a customer satisfaction study released today by J.D. Power and Associates.

National and Enterprise came in third and fourth, respectively, in the study measuring customer satisfaction among business and leisure consumers who rented a car at or near an airport.

For the first time in eight years, the most influential factor affecting customer satisfaction was rental car rates and value, said Mike Taylor, senior director of travel services for Westlake Village-based J.D. Power and Associates.

Microsoft files 15 suits to stop spam

SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday it has filed 15 lawsuits accusing the defendants of collectively flooding its systems and customers with more than 2 billion deceptive unsolicited e-mail messages.

The lawsuits address some of the most misleading, deceptive and offensive spam e-mail received by Microsoft customers, the company said. The lawsuits accused the defendants of violating laws in Washington state and the United Kingdom.

Microsoft cited Washington's strong anti-spam law, which allows Internet service providers to take action against spammers.

In London, Microsoft announced a regional anti-spam initiative that includes two lawsuits alleging the unlawful gathering of e-mail addresses and other practices that violate U.K. law.

Coke rigged tests, takes write-down

ATLANTA - Coca-Cola Co. admitted Tuesday that employees rigged a marketing test of Frozen Coke at Burger Kings three years ago and said it would take a $9 million write-down to account for some improperly valued equipment.

It's part of a series of allegations in a whistleblower lawsuit now being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Miami-based Burger King said it was disappointed by Coke's actions in the test and is continuing its own probe. Burger King is one of Coke's largest customers.

An auditing committee, investigating several allegations by a former Coke manager, also found that the company's fountain division had improperly valued some equipment.

The company will take a $9 million pretax writedown to correct the value.

Cingular moves to end PUC probe

SAN FRANCISCO - Cingular Wireless, the nation's second-largest mobile-phone carrier, quietly began settlement talks Tuesday with California regulators to end their probe into whether Cingular misrepresented its coverage and then locked customers into long-term contracts, according to people familiar with the talks.

Cingular, a joint venture of SBC Communications and BellSouth with roughly 3.2 million customers in California, has long been interested in striking a settlement, first proposing talks even before the probe was made public.

Cingular, the PUC and UCAN all declined to discuss details of the talks, which were scheduled to be held Tuesday and today at the PUC.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 18, 2003
Words:613
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