AIDS: Companies Count the Costs
South Africa's public companies will soon be sharing more than just balance sheets and business plans in their annual reports. Come September, the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (J.S.E.), the world's 14th-largest stock market, will require every listed company to disclose its AIDS-management policies. Reason: the country's adult HIV rate is 20%, among the world's highest, so infection in workers can affect a firm's performance. South African firms don't know how many of their workers have AIDS; privacy laws prevent mandatory testing by employers. And many companies are loath to disclose any stats: imagine how a food-service company's high infection rate could frighten investors and customers. But Nicky Newton-King, the J.S.E.'s deputy CEO, hopes a discourse in financial reports will help remove the AIDS stigma and lead to better prevention and treatment.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Exorcists Wanted
It's the guy who phones Fidelity more than 9,000 times in a year. Or the woman who demands help in selecting 10 outfits, tries them all on and leaves without buying even a belt. "They may not be demons as individuals, but they are killing your stock," writes Larry Selden, a Columbia Business School professor, and Geoffrey Colvin, FORTUNE's senior editor at large, in their book Angel Customers & Demon Customers, which hits stores in early June. Business people have always known that some customers aren't worth the trouble. Now Selden and Colvin show, through vivid examples, how much companies can gain by comprehensively tracking and examining the costs and benefits of each customer relationship. (Fidelity, for instance, puts burdensome callers at the end of a long holding queue and gives quick attention to account holders who deliver more profit.)
GADGETS Charge Your Cell For 25¢
For those who leave the cell-phone charger in the gym bag, a cure awaits: the Yuki Charger, a public, coin-operated slot-box that debuted in China six months ago. Flip a quarter in the Yuki, and get 10 minutes of charge time for Motorola, Nokia and other mobile-phone brands. Singapore-based InfiniTec has sold more than 3,000 units to supermarkets, hotels and universities throughout Chinese cities and a smaller number to venues in Hungary, India and Southeast Asia. NetBooth, a Las Vegas Internet-kiosk company, just purchased 100 Yukis at $500 a pop and will install a handful in the Hard Rock Hotel in May. The company is also negotiating with major airports like O'Hare and LAX to add the juicer over the next few months.
Big Money in Drugs for Dogs
If Fido starts limping after the mailman, he may not simply be succumbing to old age. He may have arthritis, and thanks to a new drug from Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, his pain can be eased with fewer side effects. The FDA has approved Deramaxx, the first animal drug to target the COX-2 enzyme, responsible for arthritic pain, while sparing the COX-1 enzyme, which helps dogs (and people) protect their stomach linings. This relief method puts Deramaxx in the same class as Celebrex (Pfizer) and Vioxx (Merck), which are for humans. Vets expect Deramaxx to cut into sales of Pfizer's Rimadyl and Wyeth's EtoGesic, which dominate the $150 million U.S. dog-arthritis market. Deramaxx will cost about $30 a month. Novartis plans to release it soon worldwide.