Stories for July 2005

Friday, July 29

Staar Getting Approval for New Lens

Shares of troubled Staar Surgical Co. soared 36.4 percent following news Friday that the Federal and Drug Administration determined the company's implantable contact lens is in line for approval.

Wendy's to Sell Tim Hortons Stake

Wendy's International Inc. said on Friday that it plans to sell a portion of its Tim Hortons business, weeks after a major shareholder sent a letter urging a spinoff of the profitable doughnut chain.

Occidental Cleared to Resume Pumping Oil in Libya

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Friday that it received approval from the Libyan government to resume operations after a 19-year hiatus from the North African country.

Amid Some Uncertainty, Profits Continue to Increase

Profits are rising at a slower pace than last year, though companies such as KB Home and Occidental Petroleum have reported strong figures.

L.A. Gas Prices Freeze

After five weeks of gas price increases, prices in L.A. stayed constant while much of Southern California saw price dips, a sign gas costs have crested, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Oil Prices Up on Refinery Fires

Refinery fires in Texas and Louisiana sent crude futures back above $60 a barrel Friday as the outages fanned fears that production may not be able to meet demand.

UFCW Decides to Bolt the AFL-CIO

The United Food and Commercial Workers, with almost 1.4 million members, will join the Teamsters and the service workers in bolting the AFL-CIO.

Business Briefs: Home Depot Inc., 20th Century Fox, Nara Bancorp, Activision

Grand jury in L.A. subpoenas Home Depot in a hazardous waste investigation, 20th Century Fox adopts the Blu-Ray standard for DVDs, Nara hires a CFO and Activision signs a licensing deal with Marvel Comics.

CNOOC Considers Raising Unocal Bid

CNOOC Ltd.'s executives will decide this weekend on whether to launch a higher offer of nearly $20 billion for Unocal Corp. or concede to rival Chevron Corp., the Financial Times reported.

Economy Growing Solidly

The U.S. economy grew at a 3.4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the government reported on Friday, just slightly below the first quarter's pace.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Stocks Lower on GDP, Higher Crude

Stocks ended lower on Friday after the nation's gross domestic product grew slightly slower than expected and crude oil prices surged higher.

Unocal Profit Beats Forecasts

Unocal Corp. reported a 39 percent rise in second-quarter profit Friday, fueled by soaring oil and gas prices and lower interest expense.

Murdoch's Son Lachlan Quits Post

Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch and a possible heir to his father's leadership of News Corp., resigned his executive position with the company.

Thursday, July 28

Oil Prices Fuel Exxon Mobil Profit

Exxon Mobil Corp. on Thursday said its profits surged 32 percent in the second quarter as it reaped the benefits of soaring oil and natural gas prices.

Jobless Claims Up Last Week

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits edged up slightly last week but remained at a level indicating a strong labor market.

DaimlerChrysler CEO to Step Down

DaimlerChrysler's embattled CEO Juergen Schrempp will leave at the end of the year, the carmaker said on Thursday, an announcement that eclipsed good earnings and sent its shares soaring.

Former South Gate Treasurer Convicted

Albert Robles was convicted Thursday by a federal jury on 30 counts of extorting city contractors for bribes following a two-and-a-half week trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Earnings Roundup

Zenith National Insurance Co., True Religion Apparel Inc., STAAR Surgical Co., Fremont General Corp., International Rectifier Corp., PeopleSupport Inc., California Pizza Kitchen Inc., IHOP Corp., K-Swiss Inc., Teledyne Technologies Inc., Diodes Inc., Mann

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Activision Posts Smaller Loss Than Expected

Revenues exceed expectations as Santa Monica-based video game maker awaits holiday season and new generation of game consoles.

Federated to Close Nine Department Stores in L.A. County

Seven Robinson-May and two Macy's department stores will close as a result of Federated Department Stores' acquisition of May Department Stores.

Northrop Profit Up, Outlook Raised

Northrop Grumman Corp. on Thursday said that higher sales of its electronic aerospace and air-combat systems helped boost its second-quarter results. The company also raised its earnings forecast.

Stocks Close Up on Strong Earnings

The Nasdaq and S & P; 500 hit four-year highs Thursday after oil prices nearing $60 didn't faze investors as they focused on a crop of strong earnings reports.

Guess Second Quarter Profit Jumps

Guess Inc.'s second-quarter net income and revenue exceeded analyst expectations due to strong performances in the apparel company's retail and wholesale operations.

Update: NBC May Bid for DreamWorks

NBC Universal is in discussions to acquire DreamWorks SKG, the privately held live-action film business left after the spinoff of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., according to reports Thursday.

Inland Property Values Surge in L.A.

The surge in home values has spread beyond affluent coastal cities and is showing up on the assessment rolls of lower-income communities in L.A. County, according to a new report released Thursday.

Wednesday, July 27

Sales of New Homes Soar

Sales of new homes soared to an all-time high in June as the housing market kept sizzling, but the median price of a new home fell for a second month.

June Durable Goods Orders Up

U.S. manufacturers got good news on Wednesday after government data showed orders for durable goods rose unexpectedly last month.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Business Briefs: Molina, DreamWorks, CKE Restaurants, Evergreen Development, Occidental Petroleum

Molina Healthcare Inc. is hit with a purported securities class action lawsuit, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and McDonald's Corp. agree to a marketing partnership, CKE Restaurants Inc. says same-store sales in the four weeks ended July 18 rose, and other

California Foreclosures Soar in June

The number of new foreclosures in California soared 19 percent in June, renewing worries that the state is sitting atop a real estate bubble that is about to burst.

Earnings Roundup

Cogent Inc., MRV Communications Inc., IRIS International Inc. and Superior Industries International Inc. were among the companies releasing quarterly results on Wednesday.

Villaraigosa Clears Out Harbor Commission

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Wednesday overhauled the city's Harbor Commission, appointing a slate of commissioners with ties to the environmental and labor communities.

Hilton's Second-Quarter Profit Rises

Hilton Hotels Corp. on Wednesday said its second-quarter earnings more than doubled, boosted by gains related to asset sales, a favorable tax benefit and higher hotel revenue.

Boeing Profit Dips, but Raises Outlook

Boeing Co. reported a drop in second-quarter profits Wednesday, but the aerospace firm still beat analyst estimates and boosted its earnings outlook for the year.

Population Growth in L.A. County Slows

Population growth in L.A. County is slowing as more people move to the Inland Empire, yet the Los Angeles metropolitan area is still the biggest growth engine in the country, according to a new report.

Napster in Deal With XM Satellite Radio

Online music provider Napster Inc. and XM Satellite Radio announced a deal today that will allow the radio networks' four million subscribers to purchase what they hear on the satellite network from Napster.

Stocks Surge on Upbeat Fed Beige Book

Stocks gained on Wednesday after investors viewed a Federal Reserve report that said business activity grew last month as a sign that the Fed's string of interest rate hikes might be near an end.

Mortgage Applications Down

Applications for U.S. home mortgages decreased last week, pulled lower by a decline in refinancing activity, despite steady long-term interest rates, an industry group said Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 26

Oil Rises on Strong Demand

Oil prices ended slightly stronger on Tuesday as the market awaited U.S. inventory data expected to show a fourth weekly decline in crude oil stockpiles last week.

Earnings Roundup

Kilroy Realty Corp., Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., Avery Dennison Corp., VCA Antech Inc., Digital Insight Corp. and Guitar Center Inc. released quarterly results Tuesday.

Countrywide Profit Falls 28 Percent

Countrywide Financial Corp. on Tuesday said second-quarter profit fell 28 percent because the amount of loans that it retained in its own portfolio rather than sell to investors nearly doubled.

Lockheed Martin Profit Rises

Lockheed Martin Corp. on Tuesday reported a 56 percent increase in second-quarter profit, helped by strong sales of electronic missile systems and information technology services.

Unocal Value in Eye of Beholder

As the bidding war heats up for Unocal Corp., shareholders on all sides of the courtship have to wonder whether the oil and gas company's assets are really worth all those extra dollars.

Stocks End Mixed on Higher Oil Prices

Stocks finished mixed Tuesday as investors weighed higher oil prices against strong earnings from companies including Verizon Communications Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc.

Business Briefs: Univision, Entravision, Ventura Foods, Northrop

Univision agrees to purchase two of Entravision's radio stations for $90 million, Ventura Foods plans to buy two businesses from Dallas-based Dean Foods Co., and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Safeway's Second Quarter Profit Falls

Safeway Inc.'s quarterly profit dropped 14 percent as higher gasoline prices and the costs of an ambitious makeover offset an uptick in sales at the grocer.

Consumers Less Upbeat in July

U.S. consumer confidence slipped more than expected in July after improving in June, a report said on Tuesday.

TV Guide Becoming a Larger Magazine

Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. said Tuesday that TV Guide is relaunching itself as a large format magazine with far fewer TV listings and more emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment.

Monday, July 25

Venture Funding in L.A. County Jumps

L.A. companies hauled in $253.9 million in venture capital funding in the second quarter, a 14.2 percent increase from a year ago, and the largest amount raised in two years, according to a new survey.

Red Bull, Puma Seek Customers in Fantasy Video Game World

Energy drinks, clothing, shoes and cellular phones are becoming ubiquitous features of video games the new frontier for product placement.

Existing Home Sales Set Record in June

Sales of existing homes set a new record in June with home prices rising at the fastest pace in nearly 25 years.

Teamsters, SEIU Bolt From AFL-CIO

The Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union broke away from the AFL-CIO labor group on Monday in a dispute over declining U.S. membership and the direction of organized labor.

Blunders, Falling Support Have Governor's Fans in Business World Worried

The state's business interests are concerned that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may become a spent political force.

Submarket's Persistent Demand Keeps Warehouse Space Tight

Vacancy levels in the Inland Empire's industrial market fell again last quarter as demand for warehouse and distribution space stayed strong.

UPS to Acquire Lynx Express

United Parcel Service Inc. on Monday said it had agreed to buy independent parcel carrier Lynx Express Ltd. for $96.5 million in cash, expanding its presence in Britain.

The Speculators

The market has enticed average folks into the real estate game of buying low and selling high. How long will the good times last?

L.A. Gas Prices Slip

Declining crude futures helped gas prices in the L.A. area fall for the first time in five weeks, following their recent shoot up after a two-month cooling-off period, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

Format War Coming to Your Living Room

While some people are still trying to figure out how to use their DVD remote, a battle has broken out over which type of format will rule the next generation of home movie players.

Unocal Nearly Accepted CNOOC Offer

Unocal Corp. was ready to approve a merger agreement with CNOOC Ltd. had the Chinese state-owned oil company sufficiently raised its $67 a share bid, Unocal said Monday in an SEC filing.

Flight Insight

William Ballhaus Jr. has worked for NASA and Lockheed Martin. Now he's head of Aerospace Corp., an organization that analyzes U.S. space programs.

Rise in Vacancies Belies Rapid Loss of Commercial Buildings

Office space continues to be converted to residential use in Hollywood, leading to some concerns in the creative community about a supply shortage.

Boingo Teams Up With Skype for Laptop-to-Telephone Calling

Imagine a wireless service that allows you to make unlimited calls, anywhere, for $7.95 a month a fraction of the typical cell phone bill. Boingo Wireless Inc. has a plan.

Homebuilding Company Shares Demonstrating Their Resilience

Financing possibilities for a range of Los Angeles properties

Molina Sinks After Profit Warning

The Long Beach-based Medicaid health maintenance organization saw its share price plummet after the company slashed its profit estimate.

Forever 21 Tries to Expand Youth Appeal With Acquisition

Forever 21 is looking to keep growing with the addition of the Gadzooks chain, which nearly doubles its store base and may help it lock the teenage girl market.

Number of Bankruptcy Filings Increase as Limits Loom

Debtors are crowding into court to file for Chapter 7 liquidations before a new, more restrictive federal law takes effect.

Pace of Lease Activity Picks Up As Builders Complete Projects

Sales and leasing activity picked up in the sprawling Mid-Cities region even as new space was brought onto the industrial market driving up the vacancy rate.

Gamer Takes Her Act From Arcade to the Front Office

Heather Gore used to spend school vacations in the arcade, armed with rolls of quarters. Now, she finds herself in a different arena: the world of multiplayer games.

Still No Life in Office Market, While Industrial Deals Roll On

South Bay vacancy rates were essentially stagnant at 20.1 percent the only L.A. market where vacancies rose compared with the year-ago period.

County Vacancies Declining as Westside Office Market Sizzles

With interest rates staying low and talk of a real estate bubble remaining just that talk L.A. County's commercial real estate market kept sizzling in the second quarter.

New Team at Times to Address Changes in Publishing Industry

Dean Baquet, incoming editor of the Los Angeles Times, has a pressing goal: winning back the 100,000 readers who have dropped the paper in the past five years.

Papers Preparing Web Innovations

The Los Angeles Newspaper Group, publisher of the Daily News of Los Angeles and other papers, plans an online redesign including Web logs and reader-produced journalism.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Business Briefs: Diagnostic Products, j2 Global, Specialty Laboratories, Hilton, TBA Global Events, Talon Graphics

Diagnostic Products Corp. and j2 Global Communications Inc. release second-quarter results, Specialty Laboratories Inc. names a new CEO, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

DreamWorks Dilutes CEO Power

Struggling DreamWorks Animation on Monday redrew the lines of authority for its top executives, giving Chairman Roger Enrico more authority and diluting the power of CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Returning Duo Puts Out Fires

California Pizza Kitchen Inc. continues to cook up perennial favorites but its stock is getting most of the rave reviews these days. Shares have risen to a 52-week high.

LAX Traffic Dips Slightly in June

Traffic at Los Angeles International Airport fell in June, as a drop in domestic travel outweighed a significant increase in international flights.

Mayor Lays Out Agenda to Bring Business to L.A.

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has ordered economic development czar Bud Ovrom to get the cranes swinging on projects around town.

Villaraigosa Names New Airport Commissioners

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday named six new airport commissioners, including a major critic who has sued to stop the $11 billion plan to overhaul LAX from going forward.

Pasadena Sets Pace, as Burbank Follows Closely, Glendale Lags

Led by red-hot Pasadena and an improving Burbank, the Tri-Cities office market tightened in the third quarter even as the sluggish Glendale submarket continued to lag.

MannKind Takes Its Shots in Insulin Race

MannKind Corp. may end up having the best inhaled insulin drug in development, but suddenly the company finds itself beset by challenges.

Reserves Over Reserves

As the bidding war heats up, shareholders on all sides of the courtship have to wonder whether the oil and gas company's assets are worth all those extra dollars.

CSC Workers' Overtime Claims Settled for $24 Million

Computer Sciences Corp. finalized a $24 million settlement earlier this month with 15,000 of its current and former workers who claim they were denied overtime wages.

High-Rise Ownership Low Rent Proposition for Storied Law Firm

O'Melveny & Myers has listed for sale its 26-story downtown L.A. office tower. The partners are reviewing offers.

Industrial Market Gets a Boost Amid Boom in Chinese Trade

The second quarter saw an explosion of industrial sales and leasing activity in the San Gabriel Valley that hit nearly 3 million square feet.

Belief in a Bubble Doesn't Mean There Is One

Economists offer their theories on where the real estate market is headed

KWKW to Join ESPN Team for Major Push of Sports en Espa & #324;ol

KWKW has built a small but loyal following of Spanish-speaking sports fans and is now teaming up with ESPN to become the flagship of a new radio network.

SK-Earthlink Signs $10 Million Lease for Westwood HQ

SK-Earthlink LLC, a joint venture between SK Telecom Co. and Earthlink Inc., has signed a 50,000-square-foot lease for a new corporate headquarters in Westwood.

Santa Monica Activity Returns to Levels of the Dot-Com Era

The strengthening Westside office market, where occupancy in Santa Monica topped 92 percent during the second quarter, is starting to look like it did in the dot-com era.

Advertising Isn't Just for Fortune 500 Firms

Craig Rettig, vice president and director of client services at Praxis Advertising and Design, said that advertising is essential for small businesses looking to strengthen their brands.

Stocks End Lower on Earnings

Stocks ended lower on Monday as oil prices increased to $59 a barrel and traders weighed lukewarm earnings from Xerox Corp. against a surge in housing prices.

Cop Shop

Attorneys at Manning & Marder specialize in cases where law enforcement officials are accused of excessive force and other transgressions.

Falling Vacancies Fail to Ignite Increase in Rental Rates

With falling vacancies, all systems were go for a healthy jump in San Fernando Valley rents during the second quarter except it didn't happen.

Kings Make Amends for Lockout

Team executives are preparing a marketing effort to bring back fans, including doubling the number of $10 seats, increasing all-inclusive ticket packages, and offering chances to meet players off the ice.

Tenants Take Advantage of Incentives to Renew or Relocate

Downtown's game of musical chairs continued, as landlords offered early-renewal packages, investors kept buying trophy properties, and tenants took advantage of bargain prices to expand.

Foot Feat

It started with a burst of inspiration: Calleen Cordero saw a belt and wanted to translate its style into shoe design. Now she sells her footwear around the world.

Big Brother Can Target Those Shoplifting Via Shopping Cart

When Evolution Robotics Inc. was founded four years ago, its business plan called for using its advanced pattern recognition technology to find weaponry in dense urban areas.

Owners Rejigger Space to Meet the Needs of Incoming Tenants

The Ventura County office sector saw vacancy rates rise slightly in the second quarter, even as developers bring new product to the market.

Vacancies Drop, Making Rents More of a Challenge for Tenants

Along the Wilshire Corridor, it's getting harder to find low rates, free rent and generous tenant improvement allowances as vacancies continue to drop and asking rates rise.

Disney Names New Miramax President

Walt Disney Co. on Monday named Daniel Battsek as president of Miramax Films, the independent studio founded by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

Finding Space Is a Challenge in Tightest Market in L.A. County

Vacancy rates for the Santa Clarita Valley's small but desirable office market plummeted during the second quarter, while the industrial sector continued to tighten.

L.A. Stories

A collection of stories about culture and business in and around Los Angeles.

Teva Buys Ivax for $7.4 Billion

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has agreed to buy rival Ivax Corp. for $7.4 billion, making the Israeli firm the world's biggest producer of generic drugs.

A Turn of the Tide Could Strand Lenders Lacking Loss Reserves

Some economists are warning that lenders need to increase their reserves to prepare for a potential downturn in the residential real estate market.

Friday, July 22

Business Briefs: Hilton, Jeantex, Lane Stanton Vance, Vivendi Universal, California United Bank, Southern California Water

Hilton Hotels Corp. sells the Hilton East Brunswick in New Jersey for about $43 million, Jeantex Group Inc. gets a new stock ticker symbol effective July 25, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

China Signals Bigger Yuan Rise Unlikely

China signaled on Friday it was opposed to a bigger rise in the yuan as markets bet that Beijing's 2.1 percent revaluation would be just the first stage in a long, upward march for the currency.

Oil Prices Rebound

Oil prices bounced about 3 percent higher on Friday after a two-week slide, as dealers eyed tropical activity in the Caribbean that could threaten the Gulf of Mexico.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

L.A. Gas Prices Inch Up

Gasoline prices in L.A. increased only marginally the past week as conditions indicated a lower price level for the rest of summer, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Starwood Buys Champagne Firm to Get Hotels

Starwood Capital is buying majority stakes in the French companies behind Taittinger and the Paris hotel Le Crillon, and is looking to sell the champagne business.

Kimberly-Clark to Cut 6,000 Jobs

The maker of Kleenex and Huggies said Friday it plans to cut about 6,000 jobs and sell or close up to 20 manufacturing plants, while boosting spending on core product lines and emerging markets.

Padilla Sets City Council Committees

Los Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla on Friday reappointed many City Council members to existing committee leadership roles.

Occidental Reports Higher Profit

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Friday its second-quarter earnings more than doubled, fueled by higher energy prices and profits from its chemicals business.

Stocks End the Week Higher

Stocks rose modestly Friday to finish the week higher, setting aside a surge in crude oil futures and lukewarm earnings from Microsoft Corp.

Thursday, July 21

DirecTV Wants to Block Adelphia Sale

DirecTV Group Inc. has asked the Federal Communications Commission to block the planned purchase of bankrupt Adelphia Communications Corp. by Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp.

U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Rise

A key gauge on the future direction of the U.S. economy rose 0.9 percent last month and the two previous months were revised upward, a private research group said on Thursday.

Jobless Claims Drop Sharply

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits plunged by the largest amount in 2 1/2 years last week, reflecting a slowdown in layoffs in the auto industry.

Business Briefs: Occidental Petroleum, DirecTV, Stan Lee Media, Kilroy Realty

Occidental Petroleum Corp. gets approval to construct a $600 million liquefied natural gas tank in Texas, DirecTV Group Inc. extends its reach to ethnic audiences, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Molina Shares Fall on Slashed Forecast

Shares of Molina Healthcare Inc. plunged as much as 52 percent on Thursday after the company cut its forecast for 2005, blaming rising medical costs, and said it expects a second-quarter loss.

Oil Lower After London Explosions

Oil prices fell by almost $1 a barrel Thursday following explosions in London that were reminiscent of the deadly bombings there two weeks ago and which raised concerns about a slowdown in travel.

Stocks Fall as London Blasts Weigh

Stocks ended lower on Thursday after a series of attacks in London unnerved Wall Street, offsetting a drop in oil prices and news that China will revalue its currency.

CNOOC May Need $70 Bid to Win Unocal

Chinese oil producer CNOOC Ltd. may need to raise its bid for Unocal Corp. to more than $19 billion to win the race for the U.S. oil and gas producer, analysts said Thursday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Jury Awards State $700 Million in Executive Life Fraud

A U.S. District Court jury in Los Angeles orders French company Artemis S.A. to pay $700 million in fraud that left Executive Life Insurance Co. annuity holders with reduced payments.

China Revalues Yuan 2.1 Percent

China finally bowed to two years of pressure on Thursday by revaluing the yuan by 2.1 percent and leaving the door open to further rises by abandoning the currency's peg against the dollar.

Earnings Roundup

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co., Ixia, Stamps.com Inc., Hanmi Financial Corp., Wilshire Bancorp Inc., Cathay General Bancorp and PFF Bancorp Inc. released quarterly results Thursday.

Disney Radio Business Gets Three Bids

Walt Disney Co. has received three offers for its nearly $3 billion radio business, the Financial Times reported.

Wednesday, July 20

Earnings Roundup

East West Bancorp Inc., Jakks Pacific Inc., Ryland Group Inc. and 21st Century Insurance Group released quarterly earnings Wednesday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

L.A. Times Editor Carroll Retires

John Carroll, the editor of the Los Angeles Times since 2000, announced Wednesday that he is retiring and will be replaced by the Times' Managing Editor, Dean Baquet.

Stocks Up on Greenspan Comments, Oil

Stocks closed higher Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan delivered an upbeat assessment of the economy and oil dipped below $57.

DirecTV Renews Deal to Carry Viacom Networks

DirecTV Group Inc. on Wednesday said it renewed a long-term agreement to carry Viacom Inc.-owned cable networks and television stations.

Kodak Cutting 10,000 More Jobs

Eastman Kodak Co. said Wednesday it is cutting as many as 10,000 more jobs as the company navigates a tough transition from film to digital photography.

Oil Prices Fall on Rising Supplies

Crude futures fell on Wednesday after government data showed rising U.S. supplies of diesel and heating oil and only a small decline in crude oil inventories.

Amgen Shares Surge on Earnings

Shares of Amgen Inc. jumped 15 percent Wednesday after the Thousand Oaks-based biotech firm beat analysts' estimates for second-quarter earnings and raised its financial outlook for the year.

Unocal Board Backs Revised Chevron Bid

Unocal's board of directors has endorsed a new $17 billion takeover bid from Chevron, rejecting a higher offer from one of China's state-owned oil companies.

GM Posts Second-Quarter Loss

General Motors Corp. posted a quarterly loss on Wednesday as high costs for materials and worker health care outweighed strong car sales and good results from its finance arm.

Greenspan Signals More Rate Increases

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said Wednesday the economy should enjoy sustained growth with low inflation in coming months, which will require continuing increases in interest rates.

City National Earnings Rise

Strong loan growth in California's smoldering real estate market helped City National Corp. post an 11 percent jump in second-quarter profits.

Tuesday, July 19

Stocks Rise on IBM, Merrill Earnings

Stocks ended higher on Tuesday, after IBM and Merrill Lynch & Co. beat analysts' expectations with better-than-expected earnings.

Hewlett-Packard to Cut 14,500 Jobs

Hewlett-Packard Co. said Tuesday it will cut 14,500 jobs and overhaul its retirement program to save $1.9 billion annually and bring costs closer to those of competitors.

Regional Economy Robust, Reports Say

Despite rising energy prices and fears of a housing slowdown, an increase in nonfarm jobs is expected and the manufacturing sector continues to expand, said a pair of economic reports released Tuesday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Merrill Lynch Profit Rises 5.6 Percent

Merrill Lynch & Co. on Tuesday said second-quarter profit rose 5.6 percent, beating analysts' estimates, as investment banking revenue increased despite tough market conditions.

Broadcom to Buy Siliquent for $76 Million

Broadcom Corp. said Tuesday it plans to buy Siliquent Technologies Inc. to acquire its 10-Gigabit Ethernet technology, considered the standard for the next wave of faster network gear.

Hahn Lands New Job

Ousted L.A. Mayor James Hahn has landed a job drumming up clients for the real estate and investment firm of a political supporter, Bill Chadwick.

Drug Firms to Battle Against Requirements for Discounts

Drug companies have made major contributions in a bid to derail a measure on the November ballot that would require them to offer deep discounts.

Housing Starts Flat, Chain Store Sales Up

U.S. housing starts were flat in June as a drop in groundbreaking on single-family homes was offset by multi-family housing construction, and retail sales at chain stores rose in the latest week.

Amgen Reports Strong Sales

Amgen Inc. reported Tuesday that its profits rose 38 percent for the second quarter due to strong drug sales. The Thousand Oaks-based biotech giant also raised its financial outlook for the year.

Oil Falls on Easing Supply Concerns

Oil prices drifted higher Tuesday despite only limited supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Emily in the Gulf of Mexico.

Business Briefs: Cheesecake Factory, Unocal, Computer Sciences Corp., Jacobs

Cheesecake Factory Inc. releases second-quarter earnings, a major CNOOC Ltd. shareholder doesn't support its $18.5 billion offer for Unocal Corp., and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Monday, July 18

Diodes Inc. to Expand Product Line Into Multifunctional Circuits

Diodes Inc. is basking in the limelight, having been ranked No. 10 on Fortune Magazine's fastest-growing companies list, No. 28 on BusinessWeek's Top 100 small companies list, and No. 45 among Business 2.0's fastest-growing tech companies.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Perennial Achievers Exemplify the Region's Diverse Economy

The perennial achievers that have returned the best return on equity over the past three years reflect performance in a variety of economic sectors.

Air Freight Down as Shippers Take to Sea

The volume of local air freight has been slowing down, as importers who used planes to avoid congestion at the ports last year have returned to the water.

Whirlpool Offers to Buy Maytag

Whirlpool Corp. has offered to buy Maytag Corp. for $1.37 billion in cash and stock, topping an earlier offer that Maytag had accepted from an investment group.

Not All Law Firm Partners Are Created Equal

Most law partners still get a share of the profits of their firm, but a growing number get just salaries and bonuses.

News Corp. to Acquire Intermix Media

News Corp. on Monday agreed to buy Intermix Media Inc, owner of the social-networking site MySpace.com, for $580 million in cash to expand its Internet offerings.

Raytheon Hiring Takes Flight Amid Boom in Defense Tech Contracting

Raytheon is on a hiring binge that will bring in more than 1,000 new employees.

Voices

Business leaders discuss the economic implications of L.A. having so few major corporate players.

Future Subway Won't Unblock Today's Tie-Up

Even if a subway plan for Wilshire Boulevard materializes, it would take a decade or more for construction. What can be done in the meantime to relieve congestion?

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

Brighter Aspects of Economy Obscured by Modest Growth

L.A.'s economy is not as anemic as it appears on the surface, according to a mid-year forecast.

What Happens When the Honeymoon's Over?

Antonio Villaraigosa's and Robert Iger's new jobs are the two hottest that L.A. has to offer mayor and CEO of Walt Disney Co. and everybody is watching.

Insurance Companies Find It Easier to Settle Than Fight

Insurers have begun settling a wave of lawsuits over allegations that companies were not paying overtime.

American Apparel Takes Heat for Executive's Sexual Practices

Los Angeles-based American Apparel's unorthodox chief executive, Dov Charney, is the target of high-profile sexual harassment suits by three former female employees.

Citigroup Profit Up, Misses Estimates

Citigroup Inc. on Monday said second-quarter net profit more than quadrupled as legal costs fell, but earnings missed analysts' estimates as revenue from fixed-income trading plunged.

Lennar Entering Downtown Craze

Lennar Corp. is the latest developer to jump into the downtown condo craze with a deal for the last vacant parcel near Staples Center.

Riordan May Go Back to Roots in Return to Former Firm

After a stint as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Secretary of Education, former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan may return to the practice of law.

Bike Race in France Paying Dividends at Home for CSC

Computer Sciences Corp., the low-profile El Segundo-based company, has gained attention thanks to the Tour de France.

Attorney Gets 80 Months in Carson Extortion Case

Tarzana attorney Robert Dennis Pryce is sentenced in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for acting as bagman between Carson city officials and waste hauler, and other crimes.

Stocks Slip on Citigroup Earnings

Wall Street's weeklong rally ended Monday after Citigroup Inc.'s second-quarter profit missed analyst forecasts, raising questions about other companies' quarterly earnings.

Emerging From a Shell Spells Major Success for More Firms

It's cheaper, it's faster, it's easier: More companies are going public by merging with a dormant operation in a reverse merger.

Mattel Reports Second-Quarter Loss

Mattel Inc. said Monday it posted a second-quarter loss due to a large tax expense related to the repatriation of foreign profits and high oil prices that cut into margins.

Times to Offer Readers a View of Stories by Competing Papers

The Los Angeles Times will soon be competing with Google and Yahoo in offering a news product tailored to its readers' preferences including stories from competing papers.

Business Briefs: Universal Studios, Milberg Weiss, Red Horse Entertainment, Northrop, A-Mark Precious Metals

Universal Studios' COO signs a 5-year contract to head the studio's film, parks and resorts business, Northrop is awarded a $109.6 million contract by the Navy, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Why L.A. Companies Are Getting Smaller and Smaller

Once you get past Amgen, Disney and a couple of others, there aren't major players on the L.A. scene. It's the companies with modest market caps that drive the regional economy.

Rock Jock

Goodbye Howard Stern. Hello Diamond Dave?

Major LAX Construction Work Ready for Competitive Bidding

A series of capital improvement projects at LAX is moving forward, including a $325 million interior remodeling of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Oil Prices Fall by Nearly $1

Oil prices fell by nearly $1 a barrel after OPEC lowered its 2005 global demand forecast because of reduced consumption in China and expectations of slower economic growth in other Asian countries.

Shugr May Find Being Sweet Isn't Enough to Compete

A new artificial sweetener, Shugr, is about to hit the market, but it will be competing against some big players.

Brand Central

Robert Hollander made his name by helping market the 1996 Olympics; now he handles clients such as Britney Spears and Dodge.

Fab Lab

One Lambda makes blood test kits that allow DNA matches precise enough to improve the chances of a successful transplant.

Santa Monica Boulevard Project Months Behind Schedule

The Santa Monica Boulevard project has been delayed and cost overruns have been pushed past $10 million.

Lender Finds Success Getting Bankers Outside Its Branches

Bad real estate loans, phony appraisals and shoddy inspections are a banker's worst nightmare, but they're nothing new for Curtis Reis, chairman and president of Alliance Bancshares California.

L.A. Stories

A collection of stories about culture and business in and around Los Angeles.

L.A. Gas Prices Rise for Fifth Week

As crude futures inched away from the $60-a-barrel mark, gas prices in the L.A. area moved higher for the fifth straight week, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Drug Firms to Battle Against Requirements for Discounts

Drug companies have made major contributions in a bid to derail a measure on the November ballot that would require them to offer deep discounts.

Newspaper Troubles Are Gray: Readership Down, Profits Up

The news isn't all grim for Los Angeles-area newspapers, which have long contended with circulation losses and increasing competition from cable and the Internet.

Tale of Two Companies Highlights Different Strategies to Business Growth

Earl Scheib has retreated from the status of a reporting public company, while American Reprographics has gone to the markets in a push for growth.

Digital Age Giving Stations Mixed Signals

KTTV wants to stay on Channel 11, but the Fox affiliate will have to fight for its position on the station grid.

Unable to Arrest Music Piracy, Colleges Pay for It to Go Away

Colleges are taking steps to address the conflicts between the recording industry and students by subsidizing music purchases.

Despite Law, Race Issues Sometimes Arise in Home Sales

Despite federal laws, real estate agents sometimes discuss the makeup of a neighborhood when they're showing homes.

Many Steps in Starting to Operate a Franchise

Leila Nourani, partner at Foley and Lardner LLP, specializing in distribution and franchise issues among others, raised a few essential points for any entrepreneur looking to open a franchise.

Friday, July 15

GE Profit Increases 24 Percent

General Electric Co. on Friday said its second-quarter earnings climbed 24 percent as all 11 of its business segments posted double-digit percentage profit growth.

Consumer Sentiment Rises

U.S. consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in a year in early July as gains in the stock market and better hiring conditions offset the drag from record gasoline prices, a report said on Friday.

Business Briefs: Northrop, Rotonics Manufacturing, Univision Communications

A Northrop Grumman Corp. unit wins a $35 million contract with the U.K.'s National Air Traffic Services, Rotonics Manufacturing Inc. reports earnings, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

June Industrial Production Up

Industrial production roared ahead in June at the fastest pace in 16 months, with half of the gain attributed to a big increase in output at the nation's utilities.

Raytheon Hiring Takes Flight Amid Boom in Defense Tech Contracting

Thanks to a shift in defense spending favoring high-tech surveillance and reconnaissance systems over heavy weaponry, defense contractor Raytheon Co.'s El Segundo division is on a hiring spree.

Unocal Still Intent on Chevron Bid

Unocal's board decided late Thursday not to change its recommendation to accept a $16.6 billion bid from Chevron instead of CNOOC's competing $18.5 billion offer, according to published reports.

Producer Prices Steady

U.S. producer prices held steady last month despite a big rise in energy costs, as food and vehicle prices plunged, according to a government report on Friday.

Oil Prices Climb on Storm Concerns

Crude futures rose Friday, reflecting traders' concerns over hurricane dangers in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to oil exports from Mexico and Venezuela.

GeoLogistics to Sell for $454 Million

GeoLogistics Corp., Orange County's largest privately held business, on Friday set aside plans to go public and is instead being sold for $454 million to Kuwait's PWC Logistics.

L.A. Gas Prices Up for Fourth Week

Gasoline prices in L.A. rose for the fourth straight week as traders sent prices higher on fears that interruptions in gas production caused by Hurricane Dennis will be repeated by Hurricane Emily.

Enron to Settle Price-Gouging Claims

Enron Corp. agreed to pay $47.5 million in a settlement that could top $1.5 billion to resolve claims that it gouged California and other states during the 2000-2001 energy crisis.

Farmers Hit With $9.9 Million Bad Faith Judgment

Jury awards two Los Angeles condomium owners $9.9 million after Farmers Insurance fails to represent the pair in a lawsuit despite being insured through a homeowners association policy.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Strong Economic Data Drives Stocks

Stocks ended higher on Friday, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index closing at a four-year high for the second straight session, as investors were encouraged by positive economic data.

Thursday, July 14

Apple Profit Surges on iPod Sales

Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday said its quarterly profit more than quintupled, fueled by strong sales of its iPod digital music players and its Macintosh computers.

Tribune Co. Profit Beats Estimates

The publisher of the Los Angles Times and other papers said Thursday that second-quarter earnings more than doubled from a year ago, despite a 2.3 percent decline in revenue.

CNOOC to Up Offer for Unocal

CNOOC Ltd. gave its executives approval to increase its $18.5 billion bid for Unocal and agreed to pay Unocal's shareholders up to a $2.5 billion penalty if it can't close the deal, news reports said Thursday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Hilton Awards Ad Account to Y

Hilton Hotels Corp. selected advertising agency Young & Rubicam to handle creative duties on its $40 million to $50 million Hilton brand account, Adweek reported on its Web site.

Oil Falls Amid Hurricane Forecasts

Oil prices fell by more than $2 a barrel Thursday, continuing a selloff that began the previous day after an international energy watchdog said demand growth in China is slower than expected.

Jobless Claims Rise

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose 16,000 last week, reflecting temporary layoffs in the factory and service sectors, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Business Briefs: DirecTV, IHOP, American Business Bank, Northrop, G.I. Trucking

DirecTV is among 15 companies being sued for allegedly infringing on a patent for digital video recording, IHOP says second-quarter same-store sales rose, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Consumer Prices Steady, Sales Jump

U.S. consumer prices held steady in June and retail sales jumped, according to government reports on Thursday that showed the economy on solid ground.

Countrywide Quarterly Profit Falling Short

Countrywide Financial said Thursday its second-quarter profit may not meet investors' expectations because the amount of loans that it retained and didn't sell to investors nearly doubled.

Stocks Up on Crude Drop, Data

Stocks rose on Thursday, as strong earnings reports, a sharp drop in oil prices and positive economic data encouraged investors.

Wednesday, July 13

Oil Prices Near $61

Oil prices rose Wednesday despite an international energy watchdog's forecast of slower demand growth and a Department of Energy report that showed rising supplies of heating oil and diesel.

Trade Gap Unexpectedly Shrinks

The U.S. trade deficit showed improvement in May, but a surge in clothing and textile shipments pushed the deficit with China to the highest level in six months.

US Import Prices Rise

U.S. import prices rose 1 percent in June as petroleum prices rebounded, while the price of non-petroleum imports fell for the second straight month, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

WorldCom's Ebbers Gets 25 Years

Bernard Ebbers, who as CEO of WorldCom oversaw the largest corporate fraud in U.S. history, was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.

California Pizza Kitchen Shares Soar

Shares of California Pizza Kitchen Inc. surged as much as 18 percent Wednesday on good vibes from stock upgrades one day after the restaurant chain raised its earnings forecast for the second quarter.

Stocks Up on Earnings, Dipping Deficit

Stocks managed a moderate gain Wednesday as investors focused on solid quarterly earnings and a falling U.S. trade deficit, while shrugging off higher oil prices and a drop in petroleum reserves.

Blacks in L.A. Facing Economic Inequality, Report Says

Blacks in L.A. County still lag other ethnic groups and blacks nationwide in key economic, health and education measures, according to a first-of-its kind study released Wednesday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Region Showing Signs of Running Short of Space for Business Expansions

The pace of major business expansions in L.A. County has slowed so far this year, highlighting both the uncertain economic outlook and a shortage of land to build on.

Update: Aon Center Sold for $192 Million

Broadway Real Estate Partners LLC has agreed to pay Transwestern Investment Co. $192 million for the Aon Center, downtown L.A.'s second-tallest high-rise, according to sources close to the deal.

News Roundup: CNOOC, Unocal, Chevron

CNOOC's bid for Unocal was still making news today.

Lego Sells Theme Parks to Blackstone

The Danish toymaker said on Wednesday it sold its Legoland theme parks to the Blackstone Group for $457.2 million and a share of a newly formed entertainment group.

Mortgage Applications Down Last Week

Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week amid a modest rise in rates on fixed 30-year loans, an industry trade group said on Wednesday.

Business Briefs: Crave Entertainment, Pacific Fruit Processors, OSI, Direct Response Financial Services

Crave Entertainment will develop Hard Rock Casino games for various videogame systems, Pacific Fruit Processors, Inc. is acquired by SunOpta Inc., and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Tuesday, July 12

TD Banknorth to Buy Hudson

TD Banknorth Inc. on Tuesday said it agreed to acquire Hudson United Bancorp Inc. for $1.9 billion to expand into the affluent New Jersey and Philadelphia areas.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Disney Mulls Radio Group Sale

The Walt Disney Co. is considering the sale of its nearly $3 billion, 71-station radio group through a tax-free spinoff to shareholders.

Oil Prices Back Above $60

Crude futures surged Tuesday after the Energy Department raised its oil-price forecast and as traders worried that summer storms in the Gulf of Mexico could hurt U.S. petroleum inventories.

L.A. County Assessments Jumped 9.5 Percent in 2004

The hot real estate market gave a 9.5 percent boost to total assessed valuation in L.A. County during 2004, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday by the county Assessor's Office.

Trizec Gets Hold of Key Property

Trizec Properties Inc. has won the bidding for Figueroa at Wilshire, a 1-million-square-foot tower that's one of the city's most prestigious addresses, for about $365 million.

P & G; Shareholders OK Gillette Acquisition

Procter & Gamble Co. shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved buying the Gillette Co., another step toward forming the world's largest consumer products company.

California Pizza Kitchen Ups Guidance

California Pizza Kitchen Inc. on Tuesday raised its earnings forecast for the second quarter ended July 3, due to improved same-store sales and savings resulting from a new payment system.

Business Briefs: Capstone Turbine, AEG, Jacobs Engineering, Alcoa Fastening Systems, LTC Properties

Capstone Turbine names a new executive vice president and CFO, AEG teams with XM Satellite Radio and America Online to form a new venture called Network Live, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Chain Store Sales Up in July's First Week

U.S. chain store sales rose in the first week of July, as discounters were still seeing strong seasonal sales, a report said on Tuesday.

Lennar, LNR Venture Set to Formally Acquire El Toro

Lennar Corp. and its partners will take possession of the former El Toro Marine base Tuesday afternoon in a major step toward its redevelopment as homes, offices, and parks.

AEG to Sell Last Staples Center Parcel

LNR Property Corp. has agreed to pay about $80 million to Anschutz Entertainment Group to buy the last developable property next to Staples Center.

Stocks Mixed on Rising Oil Prices

Higher oil prices weighed on the Dow, but the Nasdaq's rally stretched to a fourth day and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index neared a four-year high in a sign of Wall Street's bullishness.

Monday, July 11

Market Center Poses Challenge for New Owners

Jamison Properties, which recently purchased the California Market Center, is discovering that working in the rag trade can be a tough way to make a buck.

MetLife Committee Turns Down Purchase of Aon Center

MetLife Inc.'s investment committee has turned down plans by the New York-based insurance giant to purchase the Aon Center in downtown Los Angeles.

Label Maker Finds Profits Are Transparent

Avery Dennison Corp. is supplying Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. with waterproof, transparent, pressure-sensitive labels, which have remade the look of its top-selling Bud Light brand.

Venture Capital Drawn to Biotech-Related Firms

Southern California's venture capital investments totaled $482.5 million for the second quarter, mostly in biotech-related companies, according to data compiled by the SoCalTech.com e-mail newsletter.

The Future Sounds Promising to Digital Entertainment Firm

The rollout of high-definition television programming is expected to alter the entertainment landscape over the next two years and that's good news for Agoura Hills-based DTS Inc.

Victims of Metrolink Collision Ready to Start Lawsuits Rolling

Thirteen victims of the Jan. 26 Metrolink crash near Glendale that left 11 dead have retained one of the nation's top plaintiff's firms specializing in vehicle crashes: Baum Hedlund PC.

Big Buzz, but Little Bite From Those Paris Hilton Burger Ads

Same-store sales at Carl's Jr. rose a mere 1.7 percent for the four weeks ended June 20 the period in which the fast-food chain ran Paris Hilton's commercial for Carl's Jr.'s Spicy Barbecue burger.

Sprint Agrees to Acquire U.S. Unwired

Sprint Corp. said Monday that it agreed to buy U.S. Unwired Inc., a Louisiana-based Sprint affiliate, for about $1.3 billion in cash.

Entertainment Companies Going to the Mat for Cafta

Hollywood entertainment firms are lobbying for passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, now pending before the House of Representatives.

VNU Buys IMS Health for $6.9 Billion

VNU agreed on Monday to buy IMS Health Inc. for $6.9 billion in cash and shares, after the Dutch media group struggled to meet targets for its core market research unit.

One-of-a-Kind Boutiques Find Growth Comes Easier in Pairs

Local high-end clothing boutiques are taking a cue from their movie star clientele they're cashing in with sequels, with new stores or new locations in the works.

Economy's Funk Could End With a Hissing Sound

If there's any common sentiment at the mid-year point, it's vulnerability. Whether it's the housing market, oil prices, inflation or renewed acts of terrorism, there is little cushion.

L.A. Stories

A collection of stories about culture and business in and around Los Angeles.

Region Showing Signs of Running Short of Space for Business Expansions

The pace of major business expansions in L.A. County has slowed so far this year, highlighting both the uncertain economic outlook and a shortage of land to build on.

Smart & Final Reports Higher Earnings

Smart & Final Inc. reported strong second-quarter earnings Monday as the company said its same-store sales continued to climb despite a bump in business during and after the supermarket strike.

Uphill Drive

GM is spending more than any other company on fuel cells, even as Wall Street analysts note that the technology could be decades away from being commercially viable.

Stocks Rise on Mergers, Falling Oil

Stocks moved higher for a third session Monday, with the Nasdaq jumping to a six-month high, on slipping oil prices and a round of corporate mergers.

Station Finds Clear Signal in Multiple Languages

Tiny KSCI-TV is thinking bigger than ever, with new sets and jazzy graphics boosting viewership, even in the face of increased competition.

Business Briefs: PricewaterhouseCoopers, First Commerce Bancorp, CKE Restaurants

PricewaterhouseCoopers agrees to pay $41.9 million in a case brought by one of its former partners in L.A., First Commerce Bancorp releases quarterly results, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Legal Costs of Patent Lawsuits Take Their Toll on Napster

Napster Inc. may be on the straight and narrow now, but the legal costs of patent infringement suits are taking a bite out of the bottom line.

From the Driver's Seat

General Motors Corp.'s newest hydrogen-powered fuel cell test car wouldn't be confused with something that George Jetson might drive and with good reason.

VLife Vies to Take Its Show Biz Style to Wide Audience

The owner of Daily Variety is turning the trade paper's Vlife supplement into a monthly standalone magazine.

Waiting for a Bigger Role in Video Games

Actors working on video games say they deserve a bigger share of the pie, but the companies they work for disagree.

'Fit Models' Make the Mold for Your Clothes

Fit models are live mannequins who try on clothes so manufacturers can shape them to the human frame.

Update: WPT Can't Verify Takeover Bid

Three days after professional poker player Doyle Brunson launched a $700 million bid for WPT Enterprises Inc., the L.A.-based owner of the World Poker Tour TV show said Monday it is unable to substantiate the credibility of the offer.

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

Oil Prices Settle Below $59

Crude futures slipped more than $1 a barrel Monday after Hurricane Dennis missed key Gulf of Mexico refineries and spared the market from disruption in supply at a time of high demand.

DreamWorks Cuts Earnings Forecasts

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. on Monday warned of a loss in the second quarter and cut its full-year forecast due to higher-than-expected returns of its home videos.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

L.A. Gas Prices Edge Higher

With crude futures just dipping below $60 a barrel, gas prices in the L.A. area continued climbing for the fourth straight week, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Staar Violating Regulations, FDA Says

The Food and Drug Administration told Staar Surgical Co. that it is still violating a number of regulations and warned it is prepared to take action against the company.

Trizec Gets Hold of Key Property

Trizec Properties Inc. has won the bidding for Figueroa at Wilshire, a 1-million-square-foot tower that's one of the city's most prestigious addresses, for about $365 million.

At the Dawn of the iPod Age, Old Media Looks Lost

When technology reaches the point where gee-whiz gadgetry turns into must-have reliance, it's time for the old-timers to pack it in.

Big Ticket Cases Get Low Cost Solutions

Major law firms are using a state-funded program to settle six- and seven-figure cases for free, although the program was originally intended for disputes of less than $50,000.

Bombs Fail to Shake Local Markets

Globalization may have flattened the world, but the terrorist attacks in London last week are expected to have limited impact locally.

Global Reach

Alex Cappello was once chairman of an energy company, but he got wiped out when his lender forced him to default. Now he's taking a different approach as an investment banker.

Designer Turns Relationships Into New Business for Firm

The creation of lasting business relationships has been essential to Henry Rosenblit's career in design.

WellPoint Settles Lawsuit With CMA

WellPoint Inc. agreed Monday to pay $135 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by the California Medical Association and 18 other physician groups that accused it of underpaying physicians.

Unocal Sells Canada Assets for $1.8 Billion

Unocal Corp. on Monday agreed to sell its Canadian oil and gas exploration and production portfolio to Pogo Producing Co. for $1.8 billion in cash, the companies said in statements.

Racetrack Deal Has Side Bet on Added Slots

Bay Meadows says it wants to preserve Hollywood Park, but the company remains focused on development.

Video Games Go Back to Future as First Wave of Players Age

Nostalgia for vintage video games of the past has allowed Intellivision to build a platform on which to base a range of products.

Friday, July 8

Exxon, Aramco Sign Refinery Deal

Exxon Mobil Corp., Saudi Aramco and Sinopec signed a $3.5 billion deal on Friday to expand a refinery in south China, sealing the country's largest oil project.

Business Briefs: 99 Cents Only Stores, Magnetek, Inc., Northrop Grumman Corp.

99 Cents Only Stores reports same-store sales fell for the second quarter, Magnetek says it expects break-even earnings from continuing operations in its fourth-quarter, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Stocks Gain on Job Creation Report

Stocks ended higher on Friday, on the strength of a positive job creation report and a sharp drop in oil prices below $60.

L.A. Gas Prices Rise for Third Week

Gasoline prices in Los Angeles rose for the third straight week as crude futures hovered around the $60 per barrel mark.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Dissident Shareholders Drop Suit Against Walt Disney Co.

As part of the settlement, Roy Disney and Stanley Gold agreed to refrain from proxy battles for five years. The company also agreed to nominate Roy Disney to the post of director emeritus.

Hiring's Up, Unemployment Rate Dips

Hiring picked up in June with employers adding 146,000 jobs, helping to push the unemployment rate down to 5 percent, the lowest in nearly four years.

Oil Prices Slip Below $60

Oil prices fell below $60 a barrel on Friday, reversing course late in the day as traders booked profits following a runup predicated on the fear of hurricane-related supply disruptions.

Thursday, July 7

Security Heightened in Los Angeles After London Bombings

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said security has been heightened at LAX and that policing of the county's transit system by the Sheriff's Department and LAPD officers will increase immediately.

Retail Sales Strong in June

The arrival of summer weather in June gave the nation's retailers their strongest monthly sales growth since March 2004, retailers said on Thursday.

Oil Prices Drop After London Attacks

Oil futures prices fell Thursday after a string of rush-hour blasts in London, an increase in U.S. heating oil supplies and as traders took profits from previous runups.

State Legislature Approves Budget

Two days after Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders hammered out a budget deal, the state Legislature on Thursday passed a $117.5 billion state budget with lopsided majority votes and little debate.

Stocks Mixed After London Explosions

Wall Street began moving into positive territory Thursday despite the attacks that rocked London, killing at least 40 people and injuring more than 300.

Business Briefs: Innovo Group, First Regional Bancorp, Fleetwood, Guess, Lowe Enterprises

Innovo Group and First Regional Bancorp release quarterly results, Fleetwood Enterprises agrees to sell manufactured housing retail company to Clayton Homes, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Stocks Recover After London Explosions

Stocks recovered from steep losses to finish the session higher on Thursday, after terror attacks in London killed at least 37 people and injured more than 700.

L.A. Oil, Hotel Stocks React to Attack

Amid concern that terrorist attacks in London could rattle the economy, local hospitality stocks stumbled and oil company stocks took an early hit, but ultimately perked up.

Jobless Claims Rise

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless aid rose 7,000 last week. Much of the rise was due to temporary layoffs in the auto and school sectors, the government said Thursday.

Omnicare to Buy NeighborCare

Omnicare Inc., a provider of pharmaceuticals and other services to elderly care facilities, said Thursday it has reached an agreement to buy rival NeighborCare Inc. for about $1.6 billion.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Home Affordability in L.A. Falls in May

The number of people who could afford to purchase median-priced homes in the L.A. region fell sharply in May from the year-earlier period, the California Association of Realtors said.

Wednesday, July 6

Villaraigosa Names Transportation Team

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa named a transportation deputy and appointed three prominent Angelenos to the board of the county's transit agency.

Oil Prices Top $60 on Storm Fears

Crude futures rose above $60 a barrel Wednesday amid concerns about supply disruptions as a storm forced oil companies to evacuate rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Intel Invests in New Online Film Venture

Intel Corp. invested in a new company formed by actor Morgan Freeman and producer Lori McCreary that aims to distribute films through the Internet before they are released on DVD.

CKE Restaurants to Expand Into Russia

CKE Restaurants Inc. on Wednesday said a franchisee will open 50 new Carl's Jr. hamburger restaurants in Russia over the next eight years, with the first one expected to debut in early 2006.

Business Briefs: IndyMac Bancorp, Hot Topic, j2 Global, GNP Computers, Digital Insight, Semtech

IndyMac Bancorp's second-quarter mortgage production rose 51 percent from a year ago to a record $14.2 billion, Hot Topic's same-store sales fell 3.3 percent, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Update: UnitedHealth to Buy PacifiCare

Cypress-based PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. said Wednesday it has agreed to be acquired by rival UnitedHealth Group Inc. for $2.2 billion in cash and 111.6 million shares.

Hollywood Park Sold to Bay Area Group

Bay Meadows Land Co. agreed to run the racetrack for three years; after that, development of the 83-acre property is planned.

Mortgage Applications Rise Last Week

Applications for U.S. home mortgages rose for the first time in three weeks despite higher loan rates, an industry group said on Wednesday.

Disney Mobile Service to Launch on Sprint's Network

Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday said it would use Sprint's network to offer a mobile phone service geared toward families with features including voice calls and entertainment.

Chain Store Sales Up in Latest Week

Chain store retail sales rose in the latest week, as consumers bought clearance items and seasonal goods during the holiday weekend, a report said Wednesday.

Zions Bancorp to Buy Amegy in $1.7 Billion Deal

Zions Bancorp said Wednesday that it agreed to purchase Amegy Bancorp for about $1.7 billion in cash and stock in a move to enter the Texas market.

Hotel Room Rates Rise 8 Percent in May

Visitors to Los Angeles County hotels paid an average of $133.67 to spend a night in a hotel room in May, an 8 percent increase from one year earlier and 5 percent higher than the $126.87 average in April.

Activity in Non-Manufacturing Sector Up

Activity in the non-manufacturing sector rose faster than expected in June, a research group said Wednesday.

Napster, Dell Offer Campus Music Service

Online music vendor Napster Inc. formed a partnership with computer maker Dell Inc. to offer a digital music download service to university students.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Janitors Strike Aerospace Companies

Janitors went on strike at Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Wednesday after talks with maintenance company subcontractors failed to produce a new contract with higher wages and benefits.

Stocks Slide on Record Oil Price

Stocks dove Wednesday, with the Dow shedding more than 101 points, as crude prices climbed to a new record, fueled by fears that tropical storms would pinch supply.

Tuesday, July 5

Pacific Energy Partners to Acquire Certain Valero Assets

Long Beach-based Pacific Energy Partners agreed to pay $455 million to Valero LP for crude oil and oil product assets including terminals and a pipeline.

El Pollo Loco Said to Be for Sale

El Pollo Loco Inc. is reportedly on the auction block. Its owner, American Securities Capital Partners LLC, took bids on the Irvine-based Mexican fast-food chain last week, said TheDeal.com.

Cities, L.A. County Looking to Raise Fees to Fill Budget Gaps

Higher fees and taxes for L.A. businesses could be in the offing, the result of increases in government pensions and health care costs.

Stocks Rise on Wal-Mart, Factory Orders

Stocks ended higher on Tuesday, as a strong June sales report from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and a jump in factory orders helped investors look past surging oil prices.

Governor, Legislators Reach Budget Deal

After jousting for months, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state Legislature reached a budget deal that allows each side to claim victory.

L.A. Gas Prices Rise for Third Week

With oil hovering near $60 a barrel, gas prices in the L.A. area moved higher for the third straight week the first time that has happened since mid-April, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Factory Orders Up on Airplane Demand

U.S. factories saw orders rise by 2.9 percent in May, the best showing in 14 months, with the strength reflecting robust demand for airplanes and parts.

City Council Passes Ethics Reforms; Chief Ethics Officer Named

The L.A. City Council passed an ethics package that bars city commissioners from lobbying city staff or elected officials, and Mayor Villaraigosa named Thomas Saenz as his chief ethics officer.

Broadcom Files Suit Against Qualcomm

Broadcom Corp. on Tuesday said it filed an antitrust lawsuit against Qualcomm Inc. on top of patent infringement and fair trade complaints it already made against the wireless technology firm.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Oil Prices Settle Above $59

Oil prices climbed Tuesday and briefly surpassed $60 a barrel, a level economists described as a worrisome sign for global financial growth.

Glendale Galleria Owner Must Face Antitrust Allegations

General Growth Properties Inc. will have to defend itself against antitrust claims in a lawsuit filed by real estate developer Rick Caruso following an appeals court decision in his favor today.

Business Briefs: VCA Antech, Reliance Steel, MDB Capital Group, Jeantex

VCA Antech Inc. completes its acquisition of its smaller rival Pet's Choice Inc. for $60 million in cash, Jeantex Inc. is bought by Lexor Holdings, Inc., and other briefs about L.A. companies.

News Roundup: Unocal, Chevron and CNOOC Ltd.

CNOOC's bid for Unocal was still making news today.

Monday, July 4

China Arrives

So far, there's been just a trickle of Chinese companies scouring Pacific shores for U.S. businesses and brands, but the Unocal bid is widely seen as a harbinger of more aggressive direct investment.

Demand Will Prevent Precipitous Decline in Home Values

Absent significant movement, the housing market is likely to work itself out in 2005 without a major price drop.

Builders Planning to Raze St. Regis

Instead of a conversion, the St. Regis Hotel in Century City could be torn down and replaced with a building that would house bigger condos fetching up to $4 million each.

CFO Readies for a Smash in Tennis Channel's Growth

After 14 years at Dick Clark Productions Inc., Bill Simon was ready for a new game, and quickly found himself matched up with the Tennis Channel.

Wilder Theater Finally Set for Debut at Hammer Museum

The Armand Hammer Museum and its landlord, Occidental Petroleum Corp., have worked out an agreement for construction of the long-awaited Billy Wilder Theater.

Earthlink Offshoot Bringing Handsets Into a Sharp Focus

Todd Tappin, who helped guide Pasadena's Overture Services through an initial public offering and its sale to Yahoo Inc., thinks he has discovered the next new thing. Just don't call it a phone.

Ad Agencies Scrambling to Hire Specialists

An industry boom has agencies scrambling to hire specialists with experience in Hollywood tie-ins.

Real Estate Ads Ignite Boomlet for Community Papers in L.A.

Not every newspaper faces declining advertising. Several weekly and monthly community papers appear to be thriving, fattening up on real estate advertising and launching new editions.

Casden Plans Luxury Condos in Beverly Hills Shopping District

Billionaire developer Alan Casden wants to build 60 luxury condominiums in the heart of Beverly Hills' exclusive shopping district.

Officials Targeting Companies in Unemployment Tax Fraud

A state program targeting companies that dodge payments for unemployment insurance has led to the collection of $77 million in settlements.

Doctor Dial

Dave Van Dyke left radio after he grew disenchanted with industry trends; today he serves as a consultant for broadcasters dealing with format and ratings issues.

Father-Son Designers Left Legacy of Links Across Los Angeles

A father-son team designed many of the largest public golf courses in the Los Angeles area.

StreamCast Recasting for Downloading Within Legal Limits

StreamCast was recasting itself to operate within the law even before the Supreme Court ruling that cited its intent to violate copyrights as "unmistakable."

Flops Take Toll as Hollywood Pulls Back Ads

Media executives are worried as studios chalk up weekend after weekend of disappointing box office grosses and begin to tighten their ad budgets.

Take Extra Steps When Selling to Large Firms

Andrew Demetriou, head of corporate banking and business at Fulbright and Jaworski LLP, said there are a few details that entrepreneurs should keep in mind when it comes time to sign a contract with a major player.

Texas Pension Fund Lassos Santee Court for $45 Million

Santee Court, one of downtown L.A.'s earliest residential conversion projects, is nearing a sale to Dallas-based pension fund management firm for $45 million.

Yes, Donors Are Giving, but Gifts Are Coming With More Strings Attached

A battle over a donation to UCLA illustrates how donors and charitable organizations can clash as benefactors become more particular about how their money is used.

At the Getty, the Board Makes Excuses When It Should Be Making Reforms

Why is the chairman of the Getty Trust signing off on Barry Munitz's spending sprees, which include routine first-class travel around the world for he and his wife and a $72,000 Porsche Cayenne that the Getty bought him?

L.A. Stories

A collection of stories about culture and business in and around Los Angeles.

Newsmakers

The awards and promotions of the movers and shakers of L.A.'s business community.

Cities, L.A. County Looking to Raise Fees to Fill Budget Gaps

Higher fees and taxes for L.A. businesses could be in the offing, the result of increases in government pensions and health care costs.

Real Estate or Unreal Estate?

See if you can find the reason why the price of your home is twice what it was three years ago. It's finance, first and foremost.

Wetherly Capital Emerging as Leading Fund Placement Firm

Wetherly Capital Group has emerged as one of the top 10 placement agents in the United States, raising $1.5 billion from large pension funds.

Steakhouses Seizing the Sizzle As Diners Tire of Complex Fare

The low-carb frenzy may have mellowed, but steak is staying on the menu. A new crop of contemporary steakhouses is popping up in Los Angeles.

Coldplay Album's Success Proves a Point and iPod's Dominance

With the success of Coldplay's new release, iTunes proved that the digital medium can sell albums, not just singles a watershed for the still-fledgling online model.

Manager Leaves as Akin Exodus Continues

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has suffered another key departure this time, its local director of administration.

Viacom Adopts NeoPets and Their Millions of Owners

Viacom's purchase of NeoPets.com will provide a new stable of cartoon characters, along with the popular site that can boost ad sales.

Buyers Bet the House With Risky Interest-Only Loans

More L.A. homeowners are taking out mortgages with low initial payments and high back-end payments in a bet that housing prices will continue to rise sharply.

Running on Empty

Even before the bids by Chevron and a Chinese company, Unocal was a shadow of its former self.

Web Garb

Onestop Internet Inc. sets up the online side of the business for fashion

Buying Spree Could Transform ValueClick Into Web Contender

In a burgeoning online world, advertisers are still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't. So is ValueClick Inc.

Friday, July 1

Computer Sciences, DuPont in Talks for $1.9 Billion Contract

Computer Sciences Corp. said on Friday it is negotiating a $1.9 billion extension to a $3.2 billion computer services contract it has with DuPont Co.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Corrected: East West Bancorp Buys United National Bank

East West Bancorp, the San Marino-based holding company for East West Bank, has bought one of its closest rivals, United National Bank, for $164.7 million.

Microsoft, IBM Settle Antitrust Case

Microsoft Corp. said Friday it will pay $775 million to IBM to settle an antitrust lawsuit in which IBM charged that Microsoft practices hurt its OS/2 operating system and SmartSuite products.

Consumer Sentiment Climbs in June

U.S. consumer sentiment rose in June with easing gasoline prices and a bit of a rise in the stock market, a report said on Friday.

Health Net Hit With $117 Million Judgment in Fraud Case

Health Net Inc., the Woodland Hills-based health maintenance organization, was hit with a $117 million judgment in a case accusing it of fraud in the 1999 sale of three health plans.

Jupitermedia Buys PictureArts in $63.2 Million Deal

PictureArts Corp., a South Pasadena picture library and vendor, is being acquired by Jupermedia Corp. in a $63.2 million deal expected to close later this year.

Construction Spending Falls

Spending on construction projects fell for a third straight month in May, reflecting declines in the building of homes, offices and shopping malls.

Oil Prices Near $57 a Barrel

Traders shrugged off a rise in OPEC's official production ceiling Friday and helped push the price of crude oil close to $57 a barrel.

Buyers Bet the House With Risky Interest-Only Loans

More L.A. homeowners are taking out mortgages with low initial payments and high back-end payments in a bet that housing prices will continue to rise sharply.

Chevron Denies It Will Seek WTO Aid in Unocal Bid

Chevron Corp. disputed a Financial Times story that said it will seek World Trade Organization intervention in rival CNOOC Ltd.'s $18.5 billion bid for Unocal Corp.

Consumer Confidence Lifts Stocks

Stocks rose Friday as strong reports on consumer confidence and manufacturing soothed investors after the Fed said it would keep to its policy of bumping up interest rates.

Villaraigosa Sworn in as Mayor

Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday became the 41st mayor of Los Angeles and the first Latino to lead the nation's second-largest city in more than a century.

L.A. Gas Prices Keep Rising

With the holiday weekend here, gas prices rose for the second week in a row after a nine-week decline in the L.A. and Southern California region, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Manufacturing Activity Expands

The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded at a faster-than-expected pace in June, as new orders to factories picked up, a private research group reported Friday.