Short Takes on High Yields


Amazon.com Inc. saw losses widen in the third quarter due to increased spending to promote and add features, while sales more than doubled, besting analysts' forecasts. The loss ballooned to $197.1 million, or 59 cents a share, from $45.2 million, or 15 cents a share in the prior year. The company will continue to increase spending to draw customers to its Web site, as it included items such as toys and electronics in addition to books...

And while Web sites like Amazon (above) spend furiously in the hopes to gain market share in the data age, others are already benefiting by laying the infrastructure required. Qwest Comminations, for its part, reported strong numbers in the third quarter from data and Internet services. Earnings were $19.8 million, or three cents a share in the quarter, compared with a pro forma loss of $11.4 million, or two cents a share in the year-ago period. Cash flow increased 62% in the quarter to $190.5 million...

Moody's Investors Service announced the promotion of Michael Rowan to managing director of the high yield team within its corporate finance group. He will oversee a 50-person analytical team along with Tom Marshella, and will report to Mara Hilderman, group managing director of corporate finance. Rowan joined Moody's in 1996 as vice president/senior analyst...

In conjunction with its new junk bond issue, VoiceStream received a rating last week of B2 by Moody's Investors Service on the senior notes and senior discount notes. In addition, the three outstanding senior note issues from OmniPoint, recently acquired by VoiceStream, have been taken off review and upgraded to B2. The rating reflects the strategic value of VoiceStream's wireless platform, but Moody's said that the substantial leverage of the company and the challenges in integrating its newly acquired businesses also played a part in its decisions...

France Telecom SA reportedly bought 3.3 million shares of NTL Inc. and agreed to buy up to 1.4 million more shares. The purchase price was unavailable. The French firm, Europe's second-largest phone company, had already agreed to become the cable company's largest shareholder in July when it agreed to buy a 24% stake for $5.5 million. The latest move will up the ownership stake to 25.2%...

Nextel, one of the bellwethers in the junk bond market, received an upgrade from Moody's to its long-term senior unsecured debt ratings to B1 from B2. The upgrade stems from the recent announcements that the company will raise about $2 billion in equity by selling 25 million shares of common stock.