Let's Levitate That Bottom Line

What would Lenin say? And what about Lennon? Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, advocate of Transcendental Meditation and guru to the Beatles, on Mar. 6 opened a business school in the heart of Moscow. Called Maharishi Vedic University, the school's aim is to teach budding industrialists His Holiness' theory of Vedic science, which emphasizes mind-clearing meditation and reliance on spontaneity. Typical courses at Moscow's Vedic University and its sister schools in Iowa, The Netherlands, and India? The Science of Creative Intelligence and Yogic Flying--a class in levitation. The Maharishi, who still wears his white robe and his beard, says his graduates will make better managers because their minds will be "wide-angle lenses which incorporate a wider horizon and bigger reality." That apparently sounds great to 300 Muscovites, who have paid the tuition of 900 rubles--the equivalent of one month's salary. Ommmmm.

Part 2

Saving up for your kid's college education? You may be in line for an expanded tax break. One provision in the Senate's proposed tax bill would make earnings on Series EE U.S. Savings Bonds free of federal taxes, so long as the interest is used to pay educational expenses. Now, Series EE interest is excluded only for families earning less than $90,000, and only when applied to the immediate family's schooling. That means grandparents, for instance, can't use the money to educate a grandchild. The break is no sure bet: President Bush may veto the bill.

Part 3

It's no secret that IBM has big troubles in the PC market. Its sales last year fell 11.8%, contributing to the company's $564 million loss. And competing PC makers have shaved profit margins paper-thin. To come back, IBM has several new marketing approaches in the works. In Europe, it's setting up a subsidiary to resell Asian-made PC clones, which yield fatter margins than those IBM makes itself. IBM actually has been reselling PC clones in Asia since 1991, through a Singapore-based joint venture. Back home, meanwhile, the company is set on Mar. 18 to unveil a new 800-number "technical support" line that IBM PC customers can call for free advice about either hardware or software. Most such services carry a charge.

Part 4

Faced with declining Pentagon budgets, defense giant McDonnell Douglas wants to diversify from fighter aircraft and missiles into bullets--bullet trains, that is. Top defense gun McDonnell is considering developing what it calls a Highspeed Aero-assisted Magnetic Levitation Elevated Transport--HAMLET, for short. The trains could ferry passengers between cities or airports at up to 300 miles an hour. The high-tech trains are just one of several new commercial projects McDonnell is considering, including developing a sophisticated paint removal system and finding new uses for the composite materials used in aircraft skins. McDonnell's combat aircraft unit has cut 8,000 workers in the past 18 months. Another 3,000 employees will run out of work later this year as McDonnell's F-15 fighter contract nears completion.

Part 5

Bally Manufacturing, now in Chapter 11, has a new shareholder. On Mar. 10, First Jersey Securities founder Robert E. Brennan told the SEC he had acquired 6.8% of Bally. His $17.8 million buy makes him the casino company's top shareholder. Brennan, who says he since has bought 200,000 more shares, plans to keep buying for "investment purposes," and says he has no plans to play an "adversarial role." In 1984, First Jersey settled fraud charges with the SEC without admitting wrongdoing. Brennan settled associated civil charges. Meanwhile, Bally Chairman Arthur Goldberg last week sold 850,000 Bally shares, reducing his stake to 2.5%. Goldberg says there is no tie between his sale and Brennan's buys. "We welcome all investors," he says.

Part 6

The Treasury Dept.'s noncompetitive bidding system lets individuals buy up to $5 million in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds at the same average price that Wall Street professionals pay. But one firm may have subverted the program. The SEC is investigating whether broker Cantor Fitzgerald Securities submitted noncompetitive bids in the names of employees and others without their knowledge, to bypass the $5 million limit. A Cantor spokesman says it is cooperating with the probe, and calls it "unfounded."