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Published: Friday, 4/26/2002

O-I shares fall 21% on asbestos worries

FROM BLADE STAFF

Shares of Toledo's Owens-Illinois, Inc. fell $3.71 or 21 percent Wednesday and yesterday as investors sold the stock following the company's announcement that it was again increasing its estimate for settling asbestos liability lawsuits.

Nearly 5 million shares - four times the usual two-day volume - have changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange since the company late Tuesday said it had taken a $475-million accounting charge in the first quarter to increase its asbestos-liability reserve.

It was the second time in two years the company increased the estimate. O-I shares closed down $2.70 at $14.25 yesterday.

Executives of the bottle and jar manufacturer have said the firm's financial position is sound, and that O-I won't be forced into bankruptcy like many other asbestos producers. Standard & Poor's said Wednesday the asbestos reserve increase "raises concerns because the liability has exceeded earlier estimates and suggests that Owens-Illinois' obligations relative to asbestos may decline more slowly than previously expected."



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