25 September 2008

* Ameron International Sinks 33%

Ameron International Corp., a supplier of industrial paints and pipes, tumbled as much as 33 percent in U.S. trading after third-quarter profit dropped more than analysts predicted, citing ``difficult market and economic conditions.''

Net income declined to $15 million, or $1.63 a share, from $21.1 million, or $2.32, a year earlier, the Pasadena, California-based company said in a statement today. Per-share earnings excluding some costs were $1.63, missing the $1.98 estimate of D.A. Davidson & Co. analyst Brent Thielmanand $1.83 estimate of Boenning & Scattergood Inc. analyst Ryan Connors.

Losses in the company's water transmission group widened by $2.3 million because of declining construction and municipal funding constraints in the principal markets of California, Nevada and Arizona, Ameron said. Profit fell in the infrastructure products unit, where a slowdown in U.S. home construction led to lower demand for decorative concrete poles for residential lighting, while pricing competition and fuel costs in Hawaii lowered margins.

``The company's construction and water pipe markets are expected to remain challenged and fourth quarter results are not expected to be as high as third-quarter results,'' Chief Executive Officer James Marlen said in the statement.

Sales rose 3 percent to $170.1 million, short of the $182.5 million average of estimates by Thielman and Connors.

Ameron fell $32.46, or 30 percent, to $75.68 at 12:16 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Earlier, shares slid to $72.20, for the biggest intraday decline since the company began trading in July 1980. The stock gained 17 percent this year before today.


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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.