Microsoft Corp investors, who had already pushed the shares up 43 percent this year, said yesterday's antitrust settlement with the US Department of Justice validated their faith that the largest software maker would emerge with its growth prospects intact. \n"It's a tremendous relief," said Larry Jones, chief investment officer of Durham, North Carolina-based NCM Capital Management Group Inc. Jones has been buying Microsoft shares this year as the company's legal prospects improved. \nMicrosoft is the best performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year. Investors bought shares as the company sought to overturn a breakup order and settle the case on terms that didn't hinder growth and product development. The US accord, which lets Microsoft pursue its Web strategy and build new features into the Windows operating system, gave investors a new surge of optimism. \n"As bright as Microsoft's future was before, it's even brighter with this," said Michael Holland, who manages the Holland Balanced Fund, a US$60 million fund with 4 percent of its holdings in Microsoft stock. \n"The legal process will be more rational from now on and Microsoft will be allowed to compete." \nHolland said he bought "a chunk of his holdings" after an appeals court in June overturned a breakup of the Redmond, Washington-based company and removed the judge who ordered it. \nWith the major US legal concerns out of the way, the stock may rise to the low US$70s, said Marc Klee, money manager with the US$800 million John Hancock Technology Fund, which holds Microsoft shares. The shares fell US$0.44 yesterday to US$61.40. \nBill Rutherford, principal of Rutherford Investment Management, said a large jump is unlikely in the next few months, because the stock has already risen on speculation that a favorable settlement would be reached. \n"The market has been anticipating a settlement since the Bush administration came in," said Rutherford, whose firm has about US$100 million in assets and holds about 100,000 Microsoft shares. "I don't think it's a stock anyone would sell, but you can't expect a big run-up." \nThe 18 states suing Microsoft haven't approved the settlement, although three leading state attorneys general immediately praised the agreement. A judge said she wants the states to take a position by tomorrow. \nThe EU's antitrust investigation of Microsoft for dominating the market for software to run corporate networks is still in progress. The company is interested in settling that case as well, CEO Steve Ballmer said.. \nBecause Microsoft holds such a large part of the software market, Holland said Microsoft still faces legal scrutiny. The settlement is just "an important mile marker" in Microsoft's legal marathon, he said. \nStill, many investors say the worst is over because important concerns were put to rest. \nThe settlement won't require the company to make significant and immediate alterations to the Windows XP program that went on sale last week, as investors had feared. The required changes can wait for the first collection of bug fixes Microsoft releases. \nMore important to Microsoft's plans for the next several years, the company will be able to proceed with an Internet strategy that involves adding new programs and features to the Windows system that already runs 90 percent of the world's personal computers. \nInvestors were reassured that the settlement lets the company move forward with its plan, dubbed .Net, to develop Internet services that connect PCs, Web sites, networks and devices such as cell phones and organizers. The company started by adding such services to Windows XP and plans to reinforce that effort in future versions. Microsoft is pushing .Net as a way to boost sales as the PC market stagnates. \nThe resolution of the US antitrust case lets investors focus more closely on Microsoft's business. Investors say a slew of new product releases and the success of Windows 2000 for business computers and networks will lift sales in the next several quarters. The slowing US economy has sapped growth at corporate-software rivals such as Oracle Corp and PC makers that use Microsoft's software. \n"I have no concerns with their legal problems that could overwhelm the very positive product space, with Windows XP, .Net, the success of Windows 2000," said David Brady, who helps manage the Stein Roe Young Investor Fund, which holds 600,000 shares of Microsoft. \nThe settlement does restrict some Microsoft behavior that even its own investors said had to change to "comply with the law." \nMicrosoft must let computer makers promote rival software by placing a link on the primary Windows screen to those programs. That could increase competition for Microsoft's programs that are included in Windows. Microsoft had previously used desktop links to bolster its own new products and compensate for inferior products.
SECRET OUT: Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung yesterday accidentally revealed that the infections occurred at the ministry’s Taoyuan General Hospital The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the fifth COVID-19 case in a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital, where four other medical workers were confirmed to have been infected over the past week. The latest case is a nurse who had tested negative on Tuesday last week, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, told a news conference. However, on Thursday, she developed symptoms, such as nasal congestion and a cough, and a second test yesterday found that she was infected, Chen said. She is the head nurse of a ward where two
VIGILANCE: While two of the cases are family members of a nurse, there is no sign of community spread and the source of infection is identifiable, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported four new domestic COVID-19 cases associated with a cluster infection at a Taoyuan hospital. Since the first case was identified on Tuesday last week, five healthcare workers — two doctors and three nurses — at the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Taoyuan General Hospital have tested positive for the virus. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that two of the four new cases are the husband and daughter of a nurse (case No. 863) who had earlier been confirmed to have COVID-19. The husband (case No. 864)
PILLARS OF DEMOCRACY: US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft posted online after the virtual meeting that Taiwan should be able to share its successes in global venues President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft yesterday held a virtual meeting, during which Tsai described Taiwan as a “force for good” that deserves a place on the world stage, while Craft reaffirmed Washington’s support for Taiwan’s international participation. The virtual talk was held at about 11am, after Craft’s trip to Taiwan was abruptly canceled. She had been scheduled to meet with Tsai in person at the Presidential Office in Taipei yesterday morning as part of a three-day visit to Taiwan. On Tuesday, the US Department of State canceled all of its planned trips, citing a need
Don Quijote, the biggest discount store in Japan, is opening its first store in Taiwan today. The three-story Don Don Donki store in Taipei’s Ximending (西門町) area, which operates 24 hours a day, has already created 400 jobs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said in a press release. Many Taiwanese, including Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), consider a trip to Don Quijote an essential stop in Japan. “I have been to Don Quijote at least 10 times myself,” Huang said yesterday at a news conference announcing the store’s opening. “They are rendering an important service, because we cannot travel