Intel and others in US not Y2K ready, study says

Intel is among the top three largest revenue-earning, non-financial corporations in the US to earn a 'low' year-2000 readiness rating from Weiss Ratings, a consulting firm that rates year-2000 readiness of US banks, insurance companies, and Fortune 1000 companies. The low rating indicates potentially serious delays in preparing for the year 2000.

Intel is among the top three largest revenue-earning, non-financial corporations in the US to earn a "low" year-2000 readiness rating from Weiss Ratings, a consulting firm that rates year-2000 readiness of US banks, insurance companies, and Fortune 1000 companies.

In a recently published study, Weiss Ratings also gave "low" ratings to Wal-Mart Stores and Conagra, in terms of how the companies are fixing their computer systems for this coming Jan. 1. The year 2000 may cause computer problems because most older software was written with a two-digit date field that might read the "00" in 2000 as "1900" and fail to make correct calculations.

The low rating given to the three companies indicates potentially serious delays in preparing for the year 2000, according to Weiss Ratings. The firm bases its year 2000 ratings of Fortune 1000 companies on a proprietary model that compares publicly available data on year 2000 budgets and expenditures to information from industry peer groups. Weiss rates banks, savings and loans institutions, and insurance companies separately, based on questionnaires received from these institutions. More than 34% of the Fortune 1000 companies Weiss Ratings reviewed failed to disclose enough year 2000 information for the firm to formulate a rating.

Officials at Intel's local office here couldn't be reached immediately for comment, but in a form filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 26 this year, Intel said "as of December 1998, approximately 99 percent of our critical and priority manufacturing systems, and 85%of critical and priority non-manufacturing systems, were determined to be already year 2000 capable or remediation needed (replacements, changes, upgrades or workarounds) has been determined and unit testing completed. Deployment of replacements, changes and upgrades has been completed for 93% of manufacturing systems and 84% of non-manufacturing systems."

Eleven companies from among the 50 largest non-financial companies in the US earned a "below average" grade from Weiss Ratings: Bell Atlantic, Chevron, Compaq Computer, Ford Motors, General Motors, Kroger, Motorola , PepsiCo, SBC Communications, Texaco and United Technologies.

The majority of UUS utilities and telecommunications companies also tend to lag behind in year 2000 preparations, according to a statement from the firm's chairman, Martin Weiss. Among the 61 electric and gas utilities receiving a Weiss year 2000 rating, 69%received a "below average" or "low" grade, while only 5% received "high" ratings. Among 19 telecommunications firms that Weiss rated, 68% received "below average" or "low" grades, with none receiving a "high" grade.

Overall, the 538 non-financial companies that Weiss rated have budgeted US$26 billion for year-2000 related preparations, but have spent only $13.6 billion, according to the firm, which added that this information indicates widespread delays in year-2000 readiness and the likelihood of a major 11th-hour rush to catch up as the end of the year approaches.

Weiss didn't give a "high" rating to any of the nation's 50 largest non-financial companies, but it did give the rating to three companies among the largest 100: Costco Wholesale Corp., American Stores Co., and AMR.

Northrop Grumman, Continental Airlines, Consolidated Edison, and Unisource Worldwide are among the smaller companies in the Fortune 1000 that earned a "high" year-2000 rank from Weiss Ratings.

Weiss Ratings, which neither accepts compensation from the companies it rates nor gives the companies the opportunity to preview the ratings, is based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where it can be reached at +1 561 627-3300. Weiss can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.weissratings.com/.

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