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ANA cancels conference in wake of terrorist attacks

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In the wake of terrorist attacks last week in New York and Washington, the Association of National Advertisers has apparently canceled its annual conference, BtoB sister publication Advertising Age reported Tuesday. The ANA meeting, which draws hundreds of marketing and media executives from around the country, had been scheduled for Oct. 10-13 at the Ritz-Carlton Resort in Naples, Fla. ANA CEO John J. Sarsen Jr. said Tuesday morning that there were "many areas to consider," and no decision had yet been reached. But a spokeswoman in the ANA's Washington office confirmed the conference has been canceled, and a Ritz-Carlton reservation agent in Naples said the association canceled the meeting reservation. It is not known whether the conference will be rescheduled.

In related news:

• Gartner Inc., Stamford, Conn., on Tuesday held an open conference call for executives needing disaster recovery, business continuity planning and technology crisis services. The two-hour conference call was conducted by top Gartner analysts and allowed executives to anonymously pose questions. Executives from utility companies queried Gartner, accessed via http://www.gartner.com, on how to bulk up computer staffs within a unionized work force, while other executives asked whether to revert business processes from distributed servers to centralized business mainframes.``One of the critical questions is whether companies are reverting to mainframes of old,'' said Tom Austin, VP and research fellow at Gartner. ``The answer is absolutely not. In fact, we see a trend toward decentralization in part because of the disaster last week. The mainframe in the sky - massive centralized computers - are being replaced by a number of servers distributed geographically.'' However, Gartner analysts predicted businesses would move to create secure computer sites - they call them "hardened" sites - to consolidate those individual servers in a physically and technically secure environment. IBM Corp, Comdisco Inc. and Sungard Data Systems Inc. also participated in the call. Earlier, Gartner opened its research sites to help companies in need, but had to curtail the activity when Internet visitors indiscriminately downloaded reports.

• Investment banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. Tuesday resumed equity sales and trading, one week after its corporate headquarters at 2 World Trade Center was destroyed. The firm has established temporary offices elsewhere in New York and has maintained its institutional trading offices in Boston and Hartford, Conn. Sixty-six of Keefe's 171 workers posted at 2 World Trade Center are missing.

• The New York Times Co. (www.nytimes.com) said its profits will be hurt as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington last week. The publishing company reported a 17.8% drop in ad revenue for its newspaper group in August, compared with the same period last year, and said it expects September and third-quarter revenues to be "adversely affected" as a result of the attacks. It did not release projections.

• British Airways plc (www.britishairways.com) and other European airlines said they were pulling multi-million dollar ad campaigns in the wake of last week's attacks in the U.S. Air France said it was delaying a new campaign until November, and Alitalia said it was stopping all current advertising.

• Oracle Corp. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Henley said late Monday that licensing fees for its fiscal second quarter ending Nov. 30 could be down as much as 15% from the same period a year ago in part because of the terrorist attack. ``Now, everything is a wild card,'' Henley said. ``We have no idea of how negative things will be in sectors like airlines or hotels.'' Oracle said profits grew by only 2% for its fiscal first quarter ended Aug. 31, while software licensing revenues were down about 9%. The enterprise software company had delayed its conference call, originally scheduled for last week, due to the terrorist attack. Oracle has been dogged of late by a perception that its applications depend on proprietary Oracle programming code, whereas such competitors as IBM Corp. are selecting software applications that make use of openly available software programming code. It has yet to mount an effective marketing campaign to counter that perception. The earnings report can be accessed via http://www.oracle.com/corporate/investor_relations.

• In an ambitious bid that underscores its confidence in its own prospects and the prospects of the U.S. economy, DoubleClick Inc. announced that its board of directors had authorized a $100 million stock repurchase program. "We believe our current stock price does not reflect DoubleClick's business and prospects for the future," said Kevin Ryan, CEO, in a statement. "Buying back stock will allow remaining shareholders to benefit more fully from our growth." Ryan also commented on the disastrous events of last week, and DoubleClick's reaction to them. "We are deeply saddened by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Yet we will not let these events disrupt our efforts to serve customers and help them successfully market their goods and services," he said in a statement. DoubleClick's stock shares lately have been trading in the $6.86-$7.28 range, off a 52-week high of $42.13.
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