Stories for September 2003

Monday, September 29

Buy.com Provides Music Industry With Rare Online Ally

It's hard to find a friend of the recording industry these days. But you can count Buy.com Inc. among the few.

BANKRUPTCIES

Weekly List of recent L.A. bankruptcies

Appeal Rejected, Tur Gets Nothing

Bob Tur may have zoomed in a bit too close this time.

Casden Brothers Back in Court In Round Two of Family Feud

WALL STREET WEST

Banks Looking to Lend Again In Search of Assets, Earnings

Commercial banks are finally putting out the welcome mat in an effort to jump-start loan growth as mortgage originations begin to slacken.

ECONOWATCH L.A. COUNTY

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

LABJ FORUM - Facing Turbulence

The Business Journal asks: What do you think of companies handing over confidential customer information to the government?

Looking Into the Camera

Photographer Todd Frankel says so long to the Business Journal after 14 years and tens of thousands of images that reflect both the community and the times. Here is a small sample of his work.

No Deficit of Ideas for Reforming Budget

It's the most vexing financial problem facing California today and has been at the heart of the recall effort: how to bring more money into state coffers and not be so dependent on volatile income taxes?

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / THE PACESETTER

Summaries of this week's List - Savings & Loan associations, L.A. County-based; ranked by assets as of June 30, 2003

Pension Obligations Could Require Cash Outlay by Northrop

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s underfunded pension obligation that's been three years in the making now has some analysts wondering whether the defense giant will need to infuse more cash into the program.

No Clear Answer Presented by Other States' Budget Strategies

Do other states have better ways of raising money? Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will work here. And it doesn't even mean they work there.

Hint of a Fiber Optic Rebound Breathes Life Into MRV Shares

CORPORATE FOCUS: Projections of resumed spending on fiber optic networks have brought some optimism on Wall Street about MRV Communications Inc.

Patina Relocating to Disney Concert Hall

Restaurateur Joachim Splichal has extended his relationship with the Los Angeles Music Center by completing a deal to move his flagship Patina restaurant from its Hollywood home to Walt Disney Concert Hall.

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

THE LABJ STOCK INDEX

Tracking 200 selected Los Angeles County-based companies; Market Diary, Market indexes, Industry analysis, 52-week performance, weekly top Gainers & Losers, Market summary, weekly profile

Calendar

Calendar of L.A. business events, conventions, and announcements

Retail Spending Expected to Keep L.A.'s Economy Afloat

Consumer spending will continue to lead L.A.'s economy through next year as shoppers shrug off increases in mortgage rates and a stagnant job picture, according to two economic forecasts.

Monday, September 22

With Gambling Site on a Roll, Gemstar Deals Suit to Youbet

WALL STREET WEST: Online betting firm Youbet.com is locked in a tangle with its largest outside investor, Rupert Murdoch-controlled Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / THE PACESETTER

Summaries of this week's List - Women-owned Businesses, L.A. County-based; ranked by 2002 revenues

CALENDAR

Calendar of L.A. business events, conventions, and announcements

Businesses Brace for Flurry of Bills Now on Governor's Desk

Besides workers' compensation reform and employer-provided health care, numerous other measures coming out of the just-completed legislative session could affect California employers.

Thinly Traded Defense Supplier Looks to Capitalize on Growth

Thinly Traded Defense Supplier Looks to Capitalize on Growth

"Vampire" Games Publisher Sues Sony Over Copyright Claims

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. has been sued by a Georgia comic book publisher that claims the studio's "Underworld," set to be released last weekend, violates its copyrights.

Landmark Health Legislation a Quirk of Timing

When state Sen. Jackie Speier introduced a two-page bill a year ago that would establish employer-mandated health coverage, barely anyone noticed and those who did gave it scant chance of passing.

THE LABJ STOCK INDEX

Tracking 200 selected Los Angeles County-based companies; Market Diary, Market indexes, Industry analysis, 52-week performance, weekly top Gainers & Losers, Market summary, weekly profile

BANKRUPTCIES

Weekly List of recent L.A. bankruptcies

Universal Calculates $100 Million Lost to Online "Hulk" Theft

Smarting from the disappointing performance of its big-budget summer release "The Hulk," Vivendi Universal SA is blaming Internet piracy and may sue to recover what it claims is as much as $100 million in lost revenues.

Warner Bros. Lands Burbank Lease Deal

Warner Bros. has signed a lease for the entire 430,000-square-foot Studio Plaza in Burbank

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

Model for Mandated Coverage Exists, but Costs Are Unknown

While many details of the landmark health care bill that passed the Legislature this month will need to be worked out over the next two years, those who helped craft SB 2 already know much about what the final product might look like.

Parent of Korean-American Bank Eyes Sale While Bidders Take Aim

In the close-knit Korean-American banking community, every chief executive is eyeing the same prize these days: Pacific Union Bank, the third-largest bank in Los Angeles serving the ethnic niche.

ECONOWATCH L.A. COUNTY

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

Greater Scrutiny Creates Room For Specialists, Boutique Firms

Greater Scrutiny Creates Room For Specialists, Boutique Firms

LABJ's LA Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns; More news and talk from around the town, behind the scenes...

LABJ FORUM - Florida Redux?

The Business Journal asks: What do you think of the courts getting involved in the recall process?

Labor Tension Continues at Port Despite Hard-Won Pact

If there ever was a honeymoon between unionized dockworkers and steamship lines calling on the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, it's long gone.

Monday, September 15

K-Swiss Insiders Sell Off Shares as Stock Prices Keep Rising

Steven Nichols, chairman and president of K-Swiss Inc., has taken advantage of the Westlake Village-based athletic shoe maker's rising share price, cashing in $14.7 million worth of stock so far this year, according to securities research firm Thomson Fin

Wherehouse Looks for Path Out of Bankruptcy

Eight months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and shutting most of its 370 stores, Wherehouse Entertainment Inc. is pursuing two different tracks in hopes of emerging from its second bankruptcy in eight years.

CALENDAR

Calendar of L.A. business events, conventions, and announcements

Sports Bringing a Fresh Profile To Infinity News Station KFWB

In a bid to boost its lagging ratings and create a distinct identity from sister news station KNX-AM (1070), KFWB-AM (980) has struck a deal with Westwood One Inc. and CBS Radio to carry up to three games a week from the National Football League.

Small Firms Expected to Lead Hiring

Caution Persists as Economy Begins to Stir; In a surprisingly strong vote of confidence in the local economy, nearly 25 percent of L.A. County businesses plan to expand their operations within the next year

THE LIST - Temporary Placement Firms

Ranked by 2002 L.A. County revenues

THE LABJ STOCK INDEX

Tracking 200 selected Los Angeles County-based companies; Market Diary, Market indexes, Industry analysis, 52-week performance, weekly top Gainers & Losers, Market summary, weekly profile

Tetra Tech Moves Away From Telecom and Towards Military

Federal contracts and acquisitions have helped Tetra Tech Inc. rebound after being caught up in the bursting telecom bubble.

Inventory of New Homes Dips to 30-Year Low in Region

The longtime Lancaster real estate agent has been trying to meet the highest level demand for new houses in the last 25 years, including many buyers willing to sign before a shovel is in the dirt.

Renaissance Leading Uptick in Room Rates At Hollywood Hotels

The average price of a Hollywood hotel room in July jumped nearly 18 percent compared to a year earlier, according to PKF Consulting.

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

LABJ's LA Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns; More news and talk from around the town, behind the scenes...

After Recall, Public's Attention To Civics Is Likely to Dissipate

As the fifth biggest city in the state, Long Beach has no shortage of news sources.

BANKRUPTCIES

Weekly List of recent L.A. bankruptcies

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / THE PACESETTER

Summaries of this week's List - Temporary Placement firms, ranked by 2002 L.A. County revenues

NEWSMAKERS

New President Mindful of Retailer's Torrid Growth Pace

Ideas for Political Reform Get Closer Look Amid State Woes

Ideas for Political Reform Get Closer Look Amid State Woes

LABJ FORUM - Steering Into Controversy

The Business Journal asks: What do you think of the new law that will allow illegal immigrants to obtain California driver's licenses?

ECONOWATCH L.A. COUNTY

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

Analyst Slaps "Sell" Rating on Public Storage After Stock Rise

WALL STREET WEST

Lowered Debt Doesn't Spur Investing

Caution Persists as Economy Begins to Stir; Like homeowners who have refinanced their mortgages over the past year or two, L.A.'s largest public companies have been restructuring their debt burdens to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Lockout in the Legislature

Lockout in the Legislature

Monday, September 8

Legislators Race to Beat Deadline for Reform

The struggle to reform the state's costly workers' compensation system will likely go down to the wire this week in the Legislature.

LABJ FORUM - The "Must Have" List

The Business Journal asks: What's the must have product of the back-to-school season?

No Simple Formula for Repairing Dysfunctional Workers' Comp System

Much of the blame for the current workers' comp crisis has been ascribed to a dysfunctional system that has allowed medical and other costs to escalate.

NEWSMAKERS - Operations Head Aims to Bring New Blood to Red Cross

Businesspeople and businesses in the news, on the move...

Link-Up With Visa Puts Bounce Back in Check Processor's Step

CORPORATE FOCUS: Electronic Clearing House Inc. has seen some early returns from its strategic bet on electronic checks.

Manatt Severs Two Practice Groups in Washington

Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP, citing poor financial performance, has dissolved two practice groups in its Washington, D.C. office.

New Urgency Sensed as LAWA Steps Up PR Selection Process

Los Angeles World Airports is nearing a decision in its yearlong search for a public relations firm that would be heavily involved in Mayor James Hahn's $9 billion modernization plan for LAX.

Interior Designers Cut Staff, Refocus As Fees Fall Again

With business expansion still largely on hold and office tenants preferring to renegotiate and extend existing leases, the interior design sector has seen a second consecutive year of declining billings.

LABJ's LA Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns; More news and talk from around the town, behind the scenes...

Grocers Assume Hard Line Early In Contract Talks

In what is likely to be the beginning of stormy contract talks, the union representing Southern California grocery workers has disclosed a management proposal that would seek changes to work rules and overtime pay policies.

ArtistDirect Restructuring Interest in Record Label

Online firm ArtistDirect Inc.'s expensive effort to transform itself into a traditional music label may soon come to an end.

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

Hahn Business Strategy Shifts Amid Criticism

If nothing else, L.A. Mayor James Hahn is clear about his business development priorities.

Refurbished Sherman Oaks Galleria Still Searching for Its Retail Identity

A "lifestyle center" is not to be confused with a shopping center and that continues to be a challenge for Sherman Oaks Galleria.

BANKRUPTCIES

Weekly List of recent L.A. bankruptcies

Warning Signals Abound but 99 Cents Shares Show Strength

Short sellers are staging an all-out war against Los Angeles-based 99 Cents Only Stores and they appear to be losing.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / THE PACESETTER

Summaries of this week's List - Dental Plans, ranked by enrollment in L.A. County

Mercury Air Fights for Control With U.K. "Corporate Raiders"

WALL STREET WEST - Several investment funds linked to British money manager Christopher H.B. Mills have targeted Mercury Air Group with the intent of overthrowing management.

THE LABJ STOCK INDEX

Tracking 200 selected Los Angeles County-based companies; Market Diary, Market indexes, Industry analysis, 52-week performance, weekly top Gainers & Losers, Market summary, weekly profile

CALENDAR

Calendar of L.A. business events, conventions, and announcements

ECONOWATCH L.A. COUNTY

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

Galpin Makes Bid on Burbank Tract for New Ford Dealership

Bert Boeckmann, owner of Galpin Motors, says he's revived plans to purchase a prime swath of property in Burbank owned by the Ford Motor Co. and bring a Galpin auto franchise to the city.

Monday, September 1

Short Sellers Take Their Licks As J2 Global Shares Hit a High

CORPORATE FOCUS

THE LABJ STOCK INDEX

Tracking 200 selected Los Angeles County-based companies; Market Diary, Market indexes, Industry analysis, 52-week performance, weekly top Gainers & Losers, Market summary, weekly profile

ECONOWATCH L.A. COUNTY

Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism... (Adobe pdf file)

Earnings Rebound Generates Optimism About L.A. Firms

If investors had any question about which direction earnings are going for L.A.-based companies, they only need to look at the stock prices of the 10 largest companies in the LABJ 200 index.

REVIEW / PREVIEW

Review of this week's other top news; Preview of upcoming stories and events...

Missing Lunch Breaks Haunt Companies

An affiliate of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) sued Tenet Healthcare Corp. on behalf of 5,000 nurses.

CALENDAR

Calendar of L.A. business events, conventions, and announcements

Projects Move Forward on Westwood's "Golden Mile"

Reflecting a hot real estate market and still-low interest rates, Wilshire Boulevard's "Golden Mile" could be on the verge of its biggest growth spurt in more than a decade.

Tokyo Slot King Gambles on Hollywood Play

After years of dominating Japan's lucrative slot machine market, Tokyo-based Sammy Corp. created Sammy Studios Inc. last year as part of a $25 million effort to establish itself in the growing interactive entertainment market.

Talk Show Hosts Are Unheralded Resource In Universal Auction

As the bidding war for Vivendi Universal S.A.'s entertainment assets reaches its final stages, who would have thought that Maury Povich and Jerry Springer could be holding a couple of keys to the deal?

Sony Seeks Gaming Edge for New Film

In Hollywood's latest attempt to tie movie promotions with video games, Sony Pictures is letting game developers graft characters from its upcoming action-horror movie "Underworld" onto an existing PC game.

Council Takes New Shot at Stricter Strip Club Rules

A proposed ordinance that would effectively ban lap dancing in L.A.'s strip clubs has gained new momentum in the wake of an LAPD report detailing solicitations of sex-for-pay.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY / THE PACESETTER

Summaries of this week's List - Largest private employers, ranked by number of employees in L.A. County

EUniverse Finance Chief Quits As Accounting Errors Detailed

WALL STREET WEST - EUniverse Inc., the formerly high-flying Internet company, replaced its chief financial officer three days before filing its long-delayed annual report.

BANKRUPTCIES

Weekly List of recent L.A. bankruptcies

LABJ FORUM - It's Not Easy Being Big

The Business Journal asks: Are you rethinking whether to buy an SUV or to continue driving one?

NEWSMAKERS

Businesspeople and businesses in the news, on the move...

L.A. Times Debuts Magazine Aimed at Richest Angelenos

In the past couple of weeks, 50,000 copies of the first issue of Distinction were mailed, unsolicited, to some of the most expensive addresses in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

LABJ's LA Stories / The Roving Eye

Weekly Columns; More news and talk from around the town, behind the scenes...