Stories for March 2005

Thursday, March 31

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Earnings Roundup: Tarrant Apparel, Tag-It Pacific, CytRx Corp.

A number of local companies in the Los Angeles area reported higher earnings on Thursday.

Qwest Boosts MCI Offer to $8.9 Billion

Qwest Communications raised its offer for MCI Inc. to $8.9 billion Thursday, adding $500 million to its bid to wrest the long-distance phone company away from Verizon.

Factory Orders Up Less Than Expected

New orders at U.S. factories rose by 0.2 percent in February, Commerce Department data showed on Thursday, as strong demand for aircraft managed to offset weakness elsewhere.

Spending Recovers, Jobless Claims Up

U.S. consumer spending advanced 0.5 percent in February and underlying inflation slowed, government data showed on Thursday, but weekly jobless claims posted an unexpected jump.

Business Briefs: JAMDAT Mobile, Lowe Enterprises, Gemstar-TV Guide, Computer Sciences Corp., StereoVision

JAMDAT Mobile partners with Major League Baseball to create games for wireless devices, Lowe Enterprises buys two East Coast hotels, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Fund Pays $105 Million for Warner Center Buildings

LNR Property has sold the third phase of its LNR Warner Center to German fund manager RREFF for $105 million, according to sources close to the deal.

Oil Prices Rise Sharply

Oil futures prices rose Thursday as traders weighed U.S. government figures showing a large increase in crude inventories, but a drop in gasoline stocks ahead of the driving season.

Rules Could Lead To a Surge of Suits

While new rules aimed at curbing class action suits are expected to have a limited impact in L.A., they could burden the federal courts by shifting the load from state courts.

Nara Shares Fall on Restatement, Delay in Filing Annual Report

The L.A.-based commercial bank's stock plunged as much as 20 percent after it said it would restate its 2002 financial results and wouldn't file its 2004 annual report Form 10-K on time.

Quarter Ends With Stocks Down

Stocks ended lower Thursday, capping a quarter of losses, as investors weighed rising U.S. incomes and consumer spending against surging oil prices.

Wednesday, March 30

Oil Prices Dip as Crude Inventories Build

Oil prices dropped more than $1 a barrel Wednesday as the U.S. government reported a large increase in crude inventories and investors weighed OPEC's conviction that supply is adequate to meet demand.

Stocks Rally as Oil Eases

Stocks chalked up their biggest one-day gains in nearly four months on Wednesday as a drop in crude oil prices temporarily set aside inflation fears.

Economic Growth Brisk at End of 2004

The U.S. economy ended 2004 on the strongest surge of corporate profits in three years, growing at an annual rate of 3.8 percent, the government reported Wednesday.

Tetra Tech Shares Swoon as It Exits Wireless Market

Shares of Tetra Tech Inc. fell more than 20 percent on Wednesday after the Pasadena-based environmental engineering firm declared defeat in its foray into the wireless communications market.

Limited Healthy Food Choices in South L.A. Restaurants, Study Says

Restaurants in L.A.'s poorer African-American neighborhoods offer fewer healthy foods than restaurants in wealthier, primarily white Westside neighborhoods, said a study published Wednesday.

It's Botox at the Mall as Plastic Surgery Spas Mushroom

A growing number of "medispas" have opened in malls on the West Coast, though the trend is pushing east all to the consternation of plastic surgeons.

Business Briefs: Mossimo, China Digital Communication, Viacom, The Tennis Channel, MGM, Tag-It Pacific

Mossimo Inc. and China Digital Communication Group report quarterly earnings, Viacom Inc. names Gail Berman president of Paramount Pictures, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Union Pacific Plans $1.3 Billion in Track Improvements in 2005

The largest of the two railroad lines moving cargo to and from the ports of L.A. and Long Beach said Wednesday it will commit nearly $1.3 billion to upgrade its 33,000-mile nationwide track system.

HP Hopes Hurd's Low-Key Style Helps Company

Hewlett-Packard Co. hopes its choice of a relatively obscure, Midwestern management expert to replace the flamboyant Carly Fiorina as president and CEO will help it turn things around.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

AIG Admits Improper Reinsurance Accounting

American International Group Inc. on Wednesday said it accounted improperly for a deal with a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that is at the center of state and federal investigations.

Tuesday, March 29

Supreme Court Weighs in on File-Sharing

How the justices rule could redefine how consumers can watch TV shows and films and listen to songs that increasingly are delivered in digital formats.

Update: Videogame Makers to Merge, Move to Los Angeles

Newport Beach-based Collective Inc. and Emeryville-based Backbone Entertainment plan to merge and establish new headquarters in L.A.

Update: Former L.A. Chief of PR Firm Files Wrongful Termination Suit

Douglas Dowie, the former head of the L.A. office of Fleishman-Hillard, filed a lawsuit against his former employer alleging his employment agreement was breached when he was fired Jan. 5.

MCI Accepts Verizon's $7.6 Billion Offer

MCI Inc. on Tuesday accepted a sweetened takeover offer of $7.6 billion from Verizon Communications Inc., according to The Wall Street Journal.

Production Reimbursement Plan Raises Questions

By proposing reimbursements for film companies that shoot in L.A., Mayor James Hahn is plunging into a bidding war among cities and states looking to attract production through incentives.

Stocks Hit New Lows for the Year

Stocks ended the day lower Tuesday as crude oil prices rebounded and a 4.7 percent decline in heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. weighed on the Dow.

Business Briefs: Jacobs Engineering, Kilroy Realty, Northrop, JAMDAT Mobile

Jacobs Engineering Group will renovate a French hospital and develop Georgia's roads, Kilroy Realty Corp. signs a 10-year lease agreement with Intuit, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Miramax Founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein to Split With Disney

After months of contentious negotiations, the Weinsteins will leave the Walt Disney Co. in September to launch their own film distribution company, Disney said Tuesday.

Chain Store Sales Dip in Week Ended March 26

U.S. chain store retail sales fell in the latest week, as colder temperatures hurt demand for spring apparel, a retail report said on Tuesday.

Maurice "Hank" Greenberg to Retire As AIG Chairman

The man who turned American International Group Inc. into a global insurance powerhouse is stepping down as chairman this week as investigations into AIG's business practices mount.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Oil Prices Up, OPEC Won't Raise Ceiling

Oil prices rose Tuesday as OPEC's president announced the group would not raise its formal output ceiling, but said it would have to pump an additional 1 million barrels a day to meet strong demand.

Litigator Johnnie Cochran Dies at Age 67

Johnnie Cochran, who became a legal superstar after helping clear O.J. Simpson in a sensational murder trial, died Tuesday of an inoperable brain tumor.

Consumer Confidence Falls for Second Straight Month

The consumer confidence Index dropped 2.0 points to 102.4, down from a revised 104.4 in February, The Conference Board said Tuesday.

Pasadena Gives Go-Ahead to $100 Million Condo Project

The city of Pasadena has given final approval to the developer of a $100 million complex containing 75 luxury condominiums in the South Lake neighborhood.

Hurd to Succeed Fiorina at HP

Hewlett-Packard has named Mark Hurd, the head of NCR Corp., as its new CEO to succeed Carly Fiorina, who was ousted last month, said a published report.

Monday, March 28

At Meetings, Executive's Style Can Reveal Itself in Odd Ways

With financial information on the Internet and investors gravitating toward funds, annual meetings aren't the same.

Contractors Face Trickle-Down of GM Cuts

Car component contractors, such as wheel-maker Superior Industries of Van Nuys, are struggling in the face of GM's plans to cut production.

Surviving Partner in Gay Couple Can Sue After Revision of Law

The surviving member of a prominent gay couple can seek damages on behalf of his deceased partner in a case that tested a statute expanding the legal rights of gays.

Wholesale Transitioning To Retail and Residential

The Woo brothers opened their first wholesale toy business 26 years ago in a neglected quarter of downtown. Today, they own 12 buildings, making them the largest private property owners in the Toy District.

Sarbanes-Oxley Mandates Turn Jefferson Wells Into Powerhouse

Business at Jefferson Wells' two Southern California offices is up 500 percent from 2003, making it the largest accounting firm in the region outside the Big Four.

Consortium Buys SunGard for $11.3 Billion

Financial data company SunGard Data Systems Inc. has been bought by a consortium of private investment firms for $11.3 billion, making it the biggest leveraged buyout in more than 15 years.

Block by Block, Neighborhoods Reflect Change

South Park long has been known for dilapidated warehouses and vacant and burned-out buildings, but the opening of the Staples Center in 1999 brought huge changes to the neighborhood.

Train Brings New Outlook to District

Developers are showing an increased interest in building residential and retail projects in Chinatown. But while these newcomers are making a splash, Chinatown's largest landowners tower over them.

Stocks Rise as Dollar Strengthens, Crude Oil Prices Dip

Investors cheered as the dollar hit six-week highs against the euro, and crude oil futures continued a slow retreat, with a barrel of light crude settling at $54.05.

Playtime's Over at Some Toys "R" Us Sites

Toys "R" Us Inc. is changing hands, but shoppers at the retailer's 32 stores in Southern California shouldn't notice any difference yet.

Picking Phone System Could Be a Tough Call

Monty Ferdowsi, president of business telephone system supplier Nextcom, has some suggestions for entrepreneurs who want to avoid buying more or less than they need.

Snarky Site Starting to Stir Up the Ad Bucks

Mark Lisanti has been mining a rich vein of news and irreverent celebrity gossip for Defamer.com and drawing the attention of advertisers.

L.A. Stories

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

Paul Allen, Others to Sell $500 Million in DreamWorks Stock

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. said Monday that stockholders including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen plan to sell $500 million of shares, five months after the company went public.

Aon Center Owner May Part With Tower for Right Price

Transwestern Investment Co. has hired brokers at Eastdil Realty to refinance its Aon Center, L.A.'s second-tallest building. Or has it?

Chief Executive Pay for 2004 Continues Steep Path Upward

It's no surprise that executive pay is going up; the average chief executive of a major U.S. company received $10 million in total compensation last year.

Fish Draw Crowds To Struggling Area

Restaurants and retailers from all over Southern California converge on the Seafood District each day to pick out the best tuna, salmon and other delicacies. But the major landholder is a wine and spirits distributor.

Renovations, Loft Projects, New Mall Dress Up Area

Through the 1980s, the 85-block L.A. Fashion District was a mess. But that began to change in 1995 when the area's Business Improvement District was launched.

L.A. Gas Prices Keep Rising

Gas prices moved higher in Los Angeles for the 11th consecutive week, according to data from the federal Energy Information Administration.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Improvements Necessary for Bunker Hill to Thrive

Downtown's historic core is at once both the past and future of Los Angeles.

Oil Cost Ripples Across Economy

Local manufacturers producing some of the 1,200 products made from petroleum-based chemicals are being hit by increased costs.

Rules Could Lead To a Surge of Suits

While new rules aimed at curbing class action suits are expected to have a limited impact in L.A., they could burden the federal courts by shifting the load from state courts.

Union Faces Slim Hopes for Victory In UC Job Action

The union representing UC service employees faces an uphill battle in a proposed walkout.

Business Briefs: U.S. Trust Corp., United Online, Platinum Equity

U.S. Trust Corp. promotes L. Andrew Gifford to managing director of its L.A. office, United Online acquires Homestead Technologies' PhotoSite, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Grand Avenue Revitalization to Bring Area Back in Line With Original Vision

L.A.'s Civic Center, conceived in the 1920s as a pedestrian-friendly municipal core built around greenways, is home to the largest complex of government-owned buildings in the U.S., outside of Washington.

It's Botox at the Mall as Plastic Surgery Spas Mushroom

A growing number of "medispas" have opened in malls on the West Coast, though the trend is pushing east all to the consternation of traditional plastic surgeons.

Ethnic Niche Feels Impact of Changes

The name Little Tokyo was coined in 1903 by the Japanese-language newspaper Rafu Shimpo. It has since evolved into a tourism and shopping district.

Warehousing Sparks Changes South of Ninth Street

Some city districts are born and others are made. The Electronics District didn't exist until about three years ago whether it even exists now is a matter of debate.

Inevitably, Renewal Leads to Gentrification

Every urban neighborhood has its pioneers. The painters, photographers and musicians who colonized downtown loft spaces more than 30 years ago were far ahead of the current housing boom.

Active Street Life Perks Up District

While portions of downtown Los Angeles have been given new life, the produce district is one neighborhood that never really perished.

Think Small

It would be misleading to suggest that the current addition of perhaps several thousand people into central Los Angeles represents anything more than a blip in what is a dispersed, multi-polar region.

Sony Ordered to Pay in PlayStation Case

Sony Corp. said on Monday it was ordered by a U.S. court to halt sales of its blockbuster PlayStation consoles in the U.S. and pay $90.7 million in damages to Immersion Corp.

Newsmakers

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

Whistle-Blower Blues

The truth hurts, as both city officials and Diann Shipione have learned. In this case, the truth was bruised, bloodied and bullied.

GM Dealerships Hit by Cutbacks, Gas Price Uptick

With both record gas prices and corporate cutbacks in manufacturing, it's a trying time for local General Motors dealerships, where sales have plummeted 25 percent on average this year.

Ovitz Wins Round In Burkle Lawsuit

Attorneys for Michael Ovitz have won a motion disqualifying a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in a lawsuit filed by billionaire Ron Burkle against the former super-agent.

Quiet on the Set

By proposing reimbursements for film companies that shoot in Los Angeles, Mayor James Hahn is plunging into a furious bidding war among cities and states looking to attract production through incentives.

As Housing Market Keeps Pace, Local Homebuilders Keep Faith

The housing market continued its record pace last month, and roaring demand reaped great rewards for local homebuilder KB Home.

Crude Futures Sink on Profit-Taking

Oil prices fell Monday as traders took profits in a continuation of last week's downward trend.

Obsolete Buildings Hinder Progress

Properties in the Industrial District command top dollar thanks to a dearth of new space and the strength of the nearby Alameda Corridor, where goods are transported to and from the ports.

Who Owns Downtown?

The continuing development that boosters are counting on could be slowed by institutional owners who have maintained their holdings for decades, and may not not be prepared to make rapid changes.

Bank's Challenge Is to Manage Through Rising Rate Climate

Will regional lenders get clobbered by a real estate market that's bound to cool off as borrowed money gets more expensive?

Court Order

Supervising Judge Linda Lefkowitz is watching her back after violent incidents in Chicago and Atlanta.

Card Shark

Working out of his Toluca Lake garage four years ago, Miller began producing a line of homemade greeting cards targeting the gay and lesbian community.

Countrywide CFO Departs, Executive Promoted as Replacement

Real estate mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. announced Monday that Chief Financial Officer Thomas K. McLaughlin is leaving the company and will be replaced by an insider.

Over Two Decades, Towers Emerged

Home to most of downtown's tallest skyscrapers and the city's latest big redevelopment project, the Central Business District has been in the process of tear-down and rebuild for more than 50 years.

Hahn and Villaraigosa Trade Jabs in First Head-to-Head Mayoral Debate

Issues of trust dominated a debate between Los Angeles Mayor Jim Hahn and challenger Antonio Villaraigosa, as each candidate questioned whether his opponent had the integrity to serve as mayor.

Schools and Apartments in the Works

In the 1980s, Central City West was envisioned for more of the gleaming skyscrapers that dominate the neighboring Central Business District but the recession of the early 1990s stopped those plans.

Public Relations Agencies Find Tough Going in Disaster Niche

With fewer than 10 employees, Pasadena-based Lexicon Communications Corp. occupies a growing niche within the public-relations industry: helping companies defuse potential crises.

Tax Collected but Not Disbursed for Recycling Program

Three months into an electronic waste recycling tax on consumers, the state has yet to receive a dime from retailers, nor has it paid out any money to recycling firms.

Friday, March 25

Disney Restructures Planning Division as Iger Takes Control

Walt Disney Co said Friday it is merging the functions of its strategic planning division into other parts of the company an apparent early move by incoming chief executive Robert Iger to assert control.

Local Medical Supplier Faces Delisting by Nasdaq Market

The Chatsworth-based radiation therapy products company said Friday it received notice from the Nasdaq stating it's in danger of being delisted due to its failure to file its latest quarterly financial report.

L.A. Gas Price Inches Up as Crude Dips From Record Highs

The average price for regular unleaded gas in L.A. edged up 2.9 cents per gallon in the week ended March 25, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Kmart-Sears Deal Won't Mean Store Closings

Changes are on the way for Kmart and Sears stores following the merger of their parent companies, but widespread store closings won't be part of them

Blockbuster Drops Hollywood Bid

Blockbuster Inc. is dropping its nearly $1 billion hostile bid to acquire Hollywood Entertainment Corp. by not extending its expired tender offer.

Wal-Mart Director Resigns After Probe

A senior board member of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. resigned Friday following an internal investigation related to personal reimbursements, billing and company gift cards.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

May Taps Dunham as Chairman, CEO

May Department Stores Co. named John Dunham as its chairman and chief executive in advance of the retailer's $11 billion acquisition by rival Federated Department Stores Inc.

Value of Unocal Reserves May Be as Slippery to Grasp as Oil

In a few short months, Unocal Corp. has become one of the most sought-after properties in the oil industry, if rumors floated by "sources close to" various oil companies can be believed.

Thursday, March 24

Factory Orders Climb, Jobless Claims Up

New orders for U.S.-made durable goods rose 0.3 percent in February after falling sharply the month before, and claims for jobless aid rose last week.

Business Briefs: Electro Rent, Worldwide Restaurant Concepts, Hemacare, Computer Sciences Corp., NetSol

Electro Rent Corp., Worldwide Restaurant Concepts and Hemacare release quarterly results, NetSol Technologies restates its financial results, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Pyramid Lake Oil Spill Contained

Pacific Energy Partners, L.P. said that the 126,000-gallon oil spill at Pyramid Lake, caused by a ruptured pipeline owned by one of its subsidiaries, was fully contained Thursday afternoon.

Northrop Grumman Corp. Raises Its Outlook, Dividend

The defense contractor on Thursday raised its yearly earnings outlook and said its board had approved a 13 percent increase in its quarterly dividend.

'Bobo' Look Blends Counterculture With Consumerism

Suzanne Juul's high-end "eternity shawls" are the fashion counterpart to the Bobo lifestyle, which has been described as a blend of consumerism and counterculture.

New Homes Sales Climb 9.4 Percent in February

Sales of new U.S. homes soared 9.4 percent in February, the largest jump in more than four years, as sales rose nationwide, a government report showed on Thursday.

Burkle's Yucaipa Invests $150 million in Pathmark Stores

L.A. billionaire Ron Burkle's firm Yucaipa Cos. invested in the supermarket chain a day after he bought 9.2 percent of Wild Oats Markets, sending shares of both companies surging.

Oil Prices Climb After Refinery Blast

Oil prices rose on Thursday after an explosion at the third largest refinery in the U.S. triggered worries over gasoline supplies ahead of the summer driving season.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

FX's Liguori Takes Over for Berman at Fox Entertainment

News Corp. named Peter Liguori as president of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, filling the position recently held by Gail Berman, who is said to be in talks to take the top post at Paramount Pictures.

Kmart Shareholders OK Sears-Kmart $11 Billion Deal

Kmart Holding Corp. shareholders approved the acquisition of Sears, Roebuck and Co. on Thursday in an $11 billion deal many hope will create a retail powerhouse.

State Sues American Funds Over Payments to Brokers

Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued American Funds' distribution division for failing to inform investors about $426 million in "revenue sharing" payments to brokers who recommended its products.

Last-Hour Selloff Leaves Stocks Mixed

A late-session sell-off partially prompted by an uptick in oil prices kept stocks narrowly mixed Thursday.

Wednesday, March 23

Existing Home Sales Down in February

Sales of existing U.S. homes fell 0.4 percent in February, while home prices rose at double-digit rates, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

Berman Exits Fox for Top Paramount Post

Fox Broadcasting Co. entertainment president Gail Berman is leaving the network to take a top creative post at Paramount Pictures under newly appointed chairman and CEO Brad Grey.

Consumer Prices Jump in February, Spark Inflation Worries

A jump in energy costs pushed U.S. consumer prices up 0.4 percent in February, a fresh sign that inflation is picking up.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Dollar Up After CPI Data

The dollar rose against the euro and yen Wednesday after U.S. consumer prices data was stronger than expected, suggesting the Fed could raise rates more aggressively.

Boycott Hurts Hotels, but Fails to Advance Negotiations

A four-month union boycott of eight major L.A.-area hotels is costing the facilities millions, but has failed to move along collective bargaining negotiations.

L.A. County Democrats Back Villaraigosa

The L.A. County Democratic Party threw its support behind mayoral candidate Antonio Villaraigosa Tuesday night, bolstering the city councilman's campaign to unseat Mayor James Hahn.

Crude Prices Drop as U.S. Oil Inventories Grow

Oil prices sank Wednesday morning as investors reacted to U.S. government data that showed crude supplies growing, but inventories of gasoline and distillate fuel shrinking.

Business Briefs: Occidental, Center Financial, Ameron International, Summa Industries

Petroecuador will renegotiate production contracts with Occidental Petroleum, Center Financial identifies a "material weakness" in its financial statements, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

L.A. County Home Prices Jump 21.4 Percent in February

The median price of a single-family home rose in February year-over-year, but fell slightly from January, according to a report released Wednesday.

Lower Oil Prices Cool Inflation Fears

Stocks ended mixed on Wednesday as lower oil prices offset a government report that offered new evidence of rising inflation, stoking investor worry about aggressive interest-rate hikes ahead.

Mortgage Applications Fell Last Week

Applications for U.S. home mortgages dipped last week as purchasing and refinancing activity decreased due to higher mortgage rates, an industry group said Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 22

Oil Prices Fall Well Below Record

Crude futures plunged Tuesday, despite a key OPEC member saying the group was considering an increase of 500,000 barrels in its daily quota after a similar move last week.

Business Briefs: ICM, Gemstar-TV Guide, Mattel, National Technical Systems, Small World Toys

International Creative Management names Richard B. Levy as COO, Gemstar-TV Guide freezes former CEO's severance pay, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Alarcon to Endorse Villaraigosa

State Sen. Richard Alarcon, who finished in fifth place in the election for L.A. mayor, plans to announce his endorsement of City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa for the city's top job, an aide said.

Fed Delivers Quarter-Point Rate Hike

The Fed raised U.S. interest rates a seventh straight time on Tuesday, as it continued its campaign to gradually raise rates high enough to make sure a rebounding economy doesn't trigger unwanted inflation

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Union Pacific Hikes Earnings Estimate

Union Pacific Corp. on Tuesday raised its earnings estimate for the first quarter, saying winter storms on the West Coast didn't affect its operations to the extent it had expected.

Energy Costs Lead Producer Prices Higher

Inflation at the wholesale level rose by 0.4 percent last month, as the price of energy and food products shot upward, the government reported Tuesday.

Chinese Imports Take Toll on Apparel

Now that the jeans, T-shirts and socks are arriving from China in record numbers, local apparel makers are wondering how to stay in business.

Stocks Tumble as Fed Hikes Interest Rates to Stem Inflation

Stocks fell Tuesday as the Fed continued its campaign to gradually raise rates high enough to ensure that a rebounding economy doesn't trigger inflation.

L.A. Times Publisher to Step Down

John Puerner, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times since Tribune Co. bought the paper in 2000, is leaving the post June 1, Tribune announced Tuesday.

Oracle to Buy Retek for $631 Million

Oracle Corp. beat out SAP AG in its bid to buy Retek Inc., reaching an agreement to purchase the software maker for about $631 million, Oracle said Tuesday.

Monday, March 21

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Recruiters Rely on Instincts, Procedures in Seeking CEOs

The controversy over Robert Iger's succession of Michael Eisner has highlighted the process more art than science of executive searches.

Letters Demanding Taxes Sent in Error Due to Computer System Conversion

The Los Angeles Office of Finance has mailed letters to about 2,000 city residents with the erroneous claim they owe back business taxes.

Property Firm in Rejuvenation Mode

The land use and real estate firm of Brown Winfield & Canzoneri Inc. has reorganized its operations this month to bring in younger managers.

Bankruptcy Attorneys Preparing For Squeeze Under Reform Rules

Changes to federal laws on personal filings will have a significant impact on attorneys in the field, who will have to hire investigators and charge more.

Celebrities' Money Manager Buys Back Bel Air Investment

A group led by money manager Todd Morgan is buying back Bel Air Investment Advisors at a fraction of what State Street Corp. paid four years ago.

Lender Rides Out Expanding Inland Empire Housing Market

The big question in Southern California real estate is whether there's a housing bubble and if so, when it will burst?

Supervisors OK Increase for Antelope Valley Water Rates

Despite this winter's record rainfall, the L.A. County Supervisors have voted to increase water rates in the Antelope Valley, raising costs for developers, businesses and residents.

Biltmore Sale Could Set Record

The Millennium Biltmore, considered the Grand Dame of Los Angeles hotels, has been put on the market for about $500 million, in what would be a record-setting price for an L.A. hotel property.

Republicans and the Black Vote

The Republicans have a few aces up their sleeves that make them competitive with Democrats for black votes.

Budget Pressures Could Be Easing For Public Sector

Local officials say they expect their chronic deficits to ease somewhat next year, thanks to robust property and sales tax revenues.

L.A. Gas Prices Still Moving Higher

Gas prices rose in Los Angeles for the 10th consecutive week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Avoid Charge Disputes Before They Take Toll

To help companies avoid credit card charge fees and lost time, Glen Bolofsky, founder of disputemycharge.com, points to strategies meant to head off the problems before they occur.

New Rules Over Lease Values Lead to Earnings Report Snags

A raft of local companies, including Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen, have to delay and possibly restate earnings as a result of an SEC clarification on lease accounting rules.

Lease Dispute Leads to Massive Dealer Lawsuit

A lawsuit over an $800 auto lease dispute has grown to target more than 1,200 new-car dealerships in California, eight automobile insurance firms and more than 20 law firms.

'Bobo' Look Blends Counterculture With Consumerism

The phones at Suzanne Juul's offices have been ringing a lot recently, ever since the designer's circular scarves, called "eternity shawls," appeared on the neck of teenage media sensation Mary-Kate Olsen.

CNN May Tune Out of Renewing Lease on Signature Site

CNN executives are close to deciding whether the cable news channel will pull the plug on its signature Hollywood offices.

Chinese Imports Take Toll on Apparel

Now that the jeans, T-shirts and socks are arriving from China in record numbers, local apparel makers are wondering how to stay in business.

UCLA Economists Spark Debate With Call on Housing

Economists offer dissenting views on a UCLA forecast projecting a downturn from a cool-down of the housing market.

Testing 1-2-3

Revolution Prep is taking on industry leaders Kaplan and Princeton in the SAT tutoring field; its founders had once worked for the two companies.

Platinum Equity Buys Global Crossing Unit for $41 Million

Matrix Telecom, a unit of Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity, has agreed to purchase Global Crossing Ltd.'s small-business unit for $40.5 million in cash.

Chick Follows Audit Path With Scrutiny of Public Works, Parks

Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick plans to soon release an audit of the city's Department of Public Works, followed a month or two later by an audit of the city's Recreation and Parks Department.

Philanthropist's Path Cutting Wide Across Finance, Art, Politics

The trajectory of Eli Broad, the Business Journal's Business Person of the Year, spans the landscape of L.A. life. His influence may rankle, but his devotion is unquestioned.

Value of Unocal Reserves May Be as Slippery to Grasp as Oil

In a few short months, Unocal Corp. has become one of the most sought-after properties in the oil industry, if rumors floated by "sources close to" various oil companies can be believed.

Boycott Hurts Hotels, but Fails to Advance Negotiations

A four-month union boycott of eight major Los Angeles-area hotels is costing the facilities millions of dollars, but so far it's failed to achieve its intended result of moving along collective bargaining negotiations.

Business Briefs: Northrop, Unocal, Sysdome, KB Home, National Lampoon

Northrop cuts its expected gain on the sale of shares of TRW Automotive, Unocal settles lawsuits over alleged human rights violations in Myanmar, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

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.

Inglewood Market Catches Fire As Prices Soar, Projects Bloom

In Inglewood, the rising real estate market has attracted development and buyers are lining up.

Medicis to Buy Inamed for Nearly $2.8 Billion

Prescription skin medication maker Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. said Monday it agreed to buy Santa Barbara-based Inamed Corp. for about $2.8 billion in cash and stock.

Stocks Fall on Oil Price Rise, Expected Fed Rate Hike

Stocks lost ground on Monday as investors nervously awaited an expected interest-rate hike from the Federal Reserve on Tuesday, and oil prices briefly topped $57 per barrel before retreating.

Comcast Continues Its Quest for Relief From Regulations

Comcast Corp. has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for relief from local price controls in 42 California communities, including L.A.

Beyond Brie, L.A. Acquires Taste for Fancy Cheeses at Shops, Restaurants

Shops and restaurants across L.A. are catering to new sophistication in the way consumers and diners make their choices beyond Velveeta, even beyond Brie.

Wireless Industry Is Not Calling for Added Regulation

More regulation can build big bureaucracies for enforcement, but it doesn't magically solve problems -- but regulation always comes with a price tag that brings higher costs for consumers.

InterActiveCorp to Acquire Ask Jeeves

The travel and media conglomerate will buy Web search engine Ask Jeeves, Inc. for nearly $1.85 billion as it looks to capitalize on growth in the Internet advertising and search markets.

Dollar Up on Fed Outlook

The dollar surged against the euro on Monday, propped up by speculation the Fed may signal a more aggressive pace of interest rate rises at its meeting Tuesday.

Tax Time

USC law professor Elizabeth Garrett has been named to a presidential panel that will recommend an overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

Oil Eases on OPEC Supply Hopes

Oil prices eased below $57 on Monday as top exporter Saudi Arabia said OPEC producers could decide at any time to add more supply to the world market.

As Viacom Prepares Breakup, Its Local Stations Consolidate

With corporate parent Viacom splitting in two, five of the seven Infinity Broadcasting stations in Los Angeles are busy coming together in a Miracle Mile building.

Sweatshop-Free Company Sweating

The end of quotas will bring heavier competition for sweatshop-free American Apparel.

Hiring Surveys Show Boost in Accounting, Finance, IT Jobs

The hiring of accounting and finance professionals and IT workers in L.A. is expected to increase in the second quarter, said two surveys released Monday by Robert Half International Inc.

Friday, March 18

L.A. County's Unemployment Rate Dips in February

L.A. County's labor market continued to improve gradually, posting a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6 percent in February, down from 6.1 percent in January and 6.7 percent a year ago.

Oil Prices Stay Above $56 a Barrel

Crude oil futures remained above $56 a barrel Friday, as the market worried about supplies even after OPEC's president said the group may authorize pumping an extra 500,000 barrels a day.

Business Briefs: IHOP Corp., Impco Technologies, PC Mall, Alexandria Real Estate Equities

IHOP Corp. requests a 15-day extension to file its Form 10-K annual report, PC Mall Inc. distributes 14 million shares of its eCost.com subsidiary, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

New Rules Over Lease Values Lead to Earnings Report Snags

A raft of local companies, including Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen, have to delay and possibly restate earnings as a result of an SEC clarification on lease accounting rules.

Market Stands Ground While Oil Hits New High

Wall Street showed resilience Friday, with the major market indices standing their ground even as oil prices settled at a new high and raised concerns about inflation.

Petroleum Propels U.S. Import Prices Higher

Higher petroleum prices pushed the cost of goods imported to the U.S. up 0.8 percent in February, a bit more than expected, a government report said Friday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Hahn's Loss Reflects Low-Energy Image, Damage From Probes

L.A. mayor's defeat makes him the first to lose a re-election bid since Sam Yorty, and the first one-term mayor to lose since 1933. It also ends a 50-year winning streak for the Hahn family political dynasty.

Consumer Sentiment Weakens in March

U.S. consumers became less confident in early March as rising gasoline costs made Americans uneasy about the economy, a report said on Friday.

MTA Pays El Capitan $1.6 Million for Red Line Construction Damage

The MTA has settled a lawsuit filed by the owners of the El Capitan Theatre related to problems caused by the construction of the Red Line subway station at the Hollywood & Highland complex across the street.

BP to Pay $81 Million in Emissions Suit

The South Coast Air Quality Management District on Wednesday won a record $81-million settlement with oil giant BP, which regulators accused of spewing toxic gases from its Carson refinery for a decade.

Gasoline Follows Oil Prices Higher

The rising cost of crude oil propped up local pump prices, driving the average price of gas in L.A. up 4.8 cents in the week ended March 18, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Thursday, March 17

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Jobless Claims Fall for First Time in a Month

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell 10,000 last week, largely in line with expectations, a government report showed on Thursday.

Earnings Roundup: DreamWorks Animation, Reading International, Peerless Systems, American States Water

A number of local companies in the Los Angeles area reported higher earnings on Thursday.

Macerich Delays Filing Annual Report, Cites Lease Accounting

The Santa Monica-based real estate investment trust said the delay gives it time to evaluate whether any changes are needed to its accounting practices.

Qwest Ups Offer for MCI to $8.45 Billion

Qwest Communications International Inc. on Thursday raised its takeover offer for MCI Inc., adding nearly a half-billion dollars to its bid to break up its planned merger with Verizon.

Business Briefs: DirecTV, Guitar Center, ValueClick, Maguire Properties

DirecTV Group Inc. names a new president of DirecTV Entertainment Group, Guitar Center anticipates weaker-than-expected first-quarter sales, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Consortium to Acquire Toys R Us for $6.6 Billion

Toys R Us Inc. agreed Thursday to be acquired by an investment group that includes two private equity firms and a real estate developer in a deal valued at $6.6 billion.

Oil Prices Eases Back From $57 Level

Crude futures set new highs Thursday before retreating below $57 a barrel, forcing OPEC to consider a second output increase a day after its deal to raise supplies failed to halt crude's advance.

Oil, Stocks Settle for Up-and-Down Day

Stocks ended mixed on Thursday as concern over higher oil prices continued to worry investors, while media shares got a lift after Viacom Inc. said it is considering splitting into two separate companies.

Duty-Free Designation Seen as Lure to Business, Development

Commercial free trade zones, the specially designated areas that allow tenants to delay or forgo import and export duties, dot Southern California -- and more are on the way.

Wednesday, March 16

Business Briefs: Maguire Properties, Northrop Grumman, Salem Communications, CinemaNow, Hot Topic

Maguire Properties completes its acquisition of a $1.51 billion portfolio, Northrop builds unmanned reconnaissance planes for the German military, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

L.A. County Residents Pessimistic About Quality of Life, Survey Says

Residents are growing so pessimistic about the future quality of life in L.A. County that one in three said they plan to leave in the next five years, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Current Account Gap Hits Record, Housing Starts at 21-Year High

The U.S. current account deficit widened more than expected in the fourth quarter, while a separate report showed housing starts rose 0.5 percent in February.

UC Workers Authorize Strike

Unionized service workers represented by AFSCME weigh in with 92 percent voting to approve a strike. The vote sets the stage for a possible strike in April that would affect 7,000 workers on nine UC campuses, including 2,500 at UCLA.

Neiman Marcus Weighs Selling Company

The luxury department store operator said on Wednesday it hired an adviser to help it weigh the sale of the company or other strategic alternatives to boost shareholder value.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Stocks Tumble on Gloomy GM Outlook, Oil Price Rise

Stocks stumbled on Wednesday after crude oil prices shot up to another new high and General Motors Corp. warned its 2005 earnings will be as much as 80 percent below its previous forecast.

Hahn Issues Bid to Make L.A. Stem Cell Headquarters

L.A. Mayor James Hahn Wednesday submitted the city's bid to host the headquarters for the research center set up under Proposition 71, the $3 billion bond measure for stem cell research.

GM Shares Plunge on Lower Profit Outlook

General Motors Corp.'s shares skidded as it lowered its earnings guidance Wednesday, citing lower North American sales and production volumes amid a tougher pricing environment.

Hotel Occupancy, Room Rates Rise in January

Daily room rates in L.A. County averaged $123.81 in January, and occupancy rates averaged 73.7 percent, according to data released Wednesday by PKF Consulting. The increases are more evidence of a recovery in the hospitality industry.

Tribune Co. Revenues Slip on Circulation, Viewership Declines

Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times and KTLA, reported Wednesday that its February revenues dipped slightly on circulation declines and the introduction of people meters in LA.

Viacom Mulls Splitting Up Company

Viacom Inc. said Wednesday after the closing bell that it is exploring the possible break-up of the company into separate publicly traded companies.

Costs Mount as Waterlogged Projects Get on Track

The recent rainstorms have left a damper on the region's construction activity, resulting in delays at public works and private projects across the Los Angeles area.

Oil Prices Surge Above $56

Crude oil prices soared to a new record close above $56 a barrel Wednesday despite a decision by OPEC to pump an extra 500,000 barrels of oil a day.

Farmer Brothers Adopts 'Poison Pill' Plan

Torrance-based coffee distributor Farmer Bros. Co. has adopted a "poison pill" plan that would make it harder for an acquirer to pursue a hostile takeover.

Tuesday, March 15

Albertson's Profits Rises on Bristol Farms Purchase

The nation's number two grocer said Tuesday that fourth-quarter earnings rose as its Bristol Farms acquisition and an additional week of business helped offset hurricane-related costs.

Occidental's Irani Stays One of L.A.'s Highest-Paid Executives

Occidental Petroleum Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Ray Irani took home $30.9 million in total compensation last year, according to the company's proxy statement filed Tuesday with the SEC.

Retail Sales Up, Capital Flows Surge

Retail sales, strengthened by a rebound in demand for autos, rose a healthy 0.5 percent in February, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Stocks Slide on Inflation Worries

Stocks fell on Tuesday, as investors weighed solid economic news, inflation worries and a gloomy outlook on semiconductor stocks.

Business Briefs: Jacobs Engineering, Cherokee, Jakks Pacific, Southwest Water, Plains Exploration, Griffin & Co.

Jacobs Engineering provides engineering services to Pfizer, Cherokee signs an agreement with Roots Canada, Jakks Pacific and Hasbro work together, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Queen Mary Operator Seeks Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Bankruptcy filing comes after city of Long Beach files default notice, demanding $3.4 million in disputed rent. Company says it is trying to avoid termination of its lease.

Former WorldCom Chief Ebbers Convicted of All Counts

Former WorldCom Inc. Chairman Bernard Ebbers was convicted Tuesday of directing an $11 billion fraud that triggered the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

TiVo Sets DVR Deal with Comcast

TiVo Inc. on Tuesday said it set a long-term deal to supply a customized version of its digital video recording system to cable TV giant Comcast Corp.'s cable subscribers.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Another Recession Likely to Hit U.S. as Early as 2006, Report Says

Barring a rise in business investment or exports over the next few quarters, the economy will likely run out of steam before the end of Bush's second term, according to the annual Anderson Forecast at UCLA.

Oil Prices Hover Around $55 a Barrel

Crude oil futures slipped but remained near $55 a barrel Tuesday on the possibility of an OPEC output rise, but the weakness was tempered by Saudi Arabia's projection of a demand increase later this year.

Greenspan Pushes for Social Security Fixes

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan warned on Tuesday that rising budget deficits posed a major threat to U.S. economic growth, and called for a swift review of commitments to a rising tide of retirees.

L.A. County Home Prices Jump to $424,000 in February

Despite heavy rains and a slower pace of activity, the median home price in Los Angeles County rose 20.5 percent from $352,000 in February 2004, according to a new report.

Monday, March 14

Cost of Pollution Control May Logjam Legislation Again

Legislative proposals on limiting port pollution have the backing of environmental groups but are expected to face stiff lobbying opposition.

IBM to Buy Ascential for $1.1 Billion

The deal announced Monday values software maker Ascential at $18.50 a share, an 18 percent premium over its closing price of $15.70 on Friday.

Costs Mount as Waterlogged Projects Get on Track

The recent rainstorms are resulting in delays at public and private projects across the Los Angeles area.

Business Starts To Coalesce for Hahn in Runoff

Los Angeles business leaders were already gravitating toward incumbent James Hahn last week, despite the stronger primary showing from City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa.

L.A. Gas Prices Continue Flying High

For the ninth straight week, gas prices gained in Los Angeles, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

L.A. Stories

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

Forget Sprouts, Hot Dog Is L.A.'s Culinary Staple

Many stands around town cater to the city's seemingly unquenchable taste for hot dogs.

FAA Approval Nears, LAX Hurdles Remain

Despite a flurry of legal challenges and a hotly contested mayor's race, the $11 billion overhaul of LAX could break ground as early as this fall.

Architect's Drive Led to Designs Done Around the World

From Saudi Arabian oil refineries to the Bermuda Maritime Museum, Stuart G. Galloway's architectural career has spanned the globe.

State of the Innovations

Once again, California was the nation's most inventive state in 2004, receiving 23 percent of the 181,322 patents issued in the U.S.

Newsmakers

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

Pushing the Physical, Emotional Limits

Several Business Journal staff members participated in last week's Los Angeles Marathon. Here are their observations on the journey.

Effect of New DaVita Probe on Gambro Purchase Is Uncertain

DaVita Inc. is no stranger to federal subpoenas, but its latest could end up proving costly to the El Segundo dialysis firm.

In Light of Defeat, Unusual Ads Show Size Didn't Matter in Mayor's Primary

In his TV spots, Bob Hertzberg may have loomed large, but the former state Assembly speaker's splashy commercials were not enough to win.

L.A. Manufacturing Continues to Slide

L.A. County's overall manufacturing base continues to lose ground, although the struggling durable goods sector held steady.

Ink Think

Los Angeles Times opinion editor Michael Kinsley sees changes ahead for newspapers' role in public debate, as well as the way they're delivered to readers.

CEO Changes, Merger News Lifts Stocks

Investors cheered by management changes, a new round of merger deals and a drop in oil prices sent stocks higher Monday.

Office Depot Hires New CEO

Office Depot Inc. hired Steve Odland Monday to be its new chairman and CEO, hoping to keep the momentum gained since his predecessor's departure.

In Rosemead, a Wake-Up Call For Wal-Mart Friendly Officials

Opponents of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s expansion into the area are pointing to the grass-roots campaign that ousted two Rosemead City Council members last week as a blueprint for keeping the retail giant out.

Oil Rises as U.S. Cold Lifts Natural Gas

Near-record oil prices rose on Monday as natural gas futures rallied on forecasts for cool U.S. weather.

Imperial Capital Playing Role in Hawaiian Air's New Flight Plan

Beverly Hills-based lender Imperial Capital played a key role in the $150 million reorganization plan for Hawaiian Airlines Inc. that was set to be approved late last week.

A Loyal No. 2 Gets to Try His Hand at Magic at Disney

Staying true to his word paid off yesterday when the Disney board named Robert A. Iger to succeed Michael D. Eisner, the polarizing chief executive of the company, The New York Times reported.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

KTLA Tops Local Morning News Ratings

KTLA has claimed victory in the February sweeps, and Fox has shut down the national edition of its local morning news show.

Absent a Crisis, Voters Endorse Status Quo

Because Los Angeles is no longer the civic basket case it was a decade ago, voters didn't see the need for major changes.

Leaner DirecTV Facing Challenges of Churn

Under Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., DirecTV has made some major changes. But is it heading in the right direction?

Iger to Focus on Pixar

Robert Iger said that one of his first priorities in his new role would be to see if he could renew Disney's relationship with Pixar Animation Studios.

Frugality Weighs Down 99 Cents Only

After yet another stock implosion at 99 Cents Only Stores Inc., analysts and shareholders were blaming Chairman David Gold.

Law Firms Likely To Support Hahn Over Villaraigosa

When they faced off four years ago, Antonio Villaraigosa raised nearly 50 percent more from lawyers than did James Hahn. This year, the tide may shift in the other direction.

Stocks Eke Out Small Gains Amid Disney's News, Oil Price Surge

Wall Street closed slightly higher amid a flurry of deals and the naming of a new chief executive at Disney, but gains were limited by an increase in crude prices and concern over inflation and rising interest rates.

Deal Said in Works for Historic Wiltern Theatre in Mid-Wilshire

A group of Korean-American investors are close to striking a nearly $19 million deal with Hertz Investment Group to buy the landmark Wiltern Theatre, according to sources close to the proposed sale.

Business Briefs: Countrywide, Northrop, Mattel, DirecTV, DaVita, AML Communications

Countrywide Financial restates results for two quarters in 2003, Northrop Grumman signs a $24 million contract to protect the Royal Australian Air Force, and other business briefs about L.A. companies.

Web Lodge

The goal of GoConcierge is to put all the necessary information at the fingertips of hotel desk staff to help them help their guests.

Glendale Exodus Leads to Office Space Oversupply

As neighbors Burbank and Pasadena prosper, the city's office market shows rising vacancy rates caused by departures, downsizing and lack of growth.

Investors Ante Up for Piece of Budding Poker Empire's Hand

How can WPT Enterprises Inc. be "a little poker Disney" when it just missed analysts' fourth-quarter earnings estimates -- and its success is built on the fleeting popularity of televised poker tournaments?

Puck Adds Touch of Klass to Growing Catering Operation

Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events has purchased the catering business of Gai Klass Event Production & Exquisite Cuisine.

Tourism Industry Grew 6.7 Percent in 2004

The 2004 increase was led by sales of food, airline travel, recreation and entertainment goods, the U.S. Commerce Department said on Monday.

Options for First-Time Purchase of Insurance

Gregory Good, a senior vice president in Marsh's employee benefits practice, has advice for entrepreneurs faced with having to choose a small group health plan.

Duty-Free Designation Seen as Lure to Business, Development

Commercial free trade zones, the specially designated areas that allow tenants to delay or forgo import and export duties, dot Southern California -- and more are on the way.

Cook Tops

Like other chefs, Govind Armstrong found that his appearance on a cooking show boosted interest in his restaurant. But some warn that becoming TV personalities can take cooks out of the kitchen too much.

Friday, March 11

Oil Prices Up on Stronger Demand Estimate

Crude oil futures prices climbed above $54 a barrel Friday after the International Energy Agency estimated global petroleum demand would grow faster than previously expected in 2005.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Consumer Confidence Gains in March

Consumer confidence, which plunged sharply in February, jumped by the largest amount in seven months in early March as Americans were encouraged by an increase in hiring.

Avery Dennison's Outgoing CEO Neal Paid $2.5 Million in 2004

Avery Dennison Chairman and Chief Executive Philip M. Neal, who will relinquish CEO post mid-year, was paid $1 million in salary and a $1.5 million bonus, about $1 million more than he received in 2003.

Trade Deficit Widens in January on Import Surge

A surge in imports of consumer goods pushed the U.S. trade deficit to a wider-than-expected $58.3 billion in January, the second biggest on record, the government said on Friday.

Edison's Fourth-Quarter Profit Surges

Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison, reported Friday its fourth-quarter earnings nearly doubled on gains from the sale of overseas assets and the resolution of regulatory and tax issues.

Stocks Continue Slide on Deficit, Dollar Woes

Stocks ended lower Friday, wrapping up a week of losses as investors reacted to a ballooning U.S. trade deficit and a falling dollar.

California Job Numbers Delayed Again

February's employment figures from the California Employment Development Department have been delayed again -- the second month in a row the agency has been late in releasing data.

Business Briefs: Computer Sciences Corp., Arden Group, DirecTV Group

Computer Sciences Corp. signs a $236 million IT contract with Renault, Arden releases fourth-quarter earnings, and DirecTV obtains a new credit line and issues notes to repay borrowings.

As FAA Approval Nears, LAX Hurdles Remain

Despite many legal challenges and a hotly contested mayor's race, the $11 billion overhaul of Los Angeles International Airport could break ground as early as this fall.

Warner Music Files for $750 Million IPO

Warner Music Group Corp. on Friday revealed plans for an IPO, filing with regulators to sell up to $750 million worth of common stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

Thursday, March 10

Northrop Overruns Could Erase Carrier Profit, Navy Says

Navy officials said Northrop Grumman Corp. may not make a profit on the latest U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier due to cost overruns, Bloomberg News reported.

Group Reportedly Makes Toys R Us Inc. Offer

An investment group wants to buy all of Toys R Us Inc. for nearly $5 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Cash Concerns Cause Staar Surgical Shares to Fall

Shares of Staar Surgical Co. fell more than 20 percent Thursday after the maker of implantable contact lenses' said its auditor may warn that it could run out of cash.

Worldwide Restaurant Concepts Delays Earnings to Review Lease Accounting

The Sherman Oaks-based restaurant operator and franchiser said Thursday it is postponing the release of its third-quarter financial statement to evaluate its lease accounting practices.

Radio's Look to iPod Hits Static

Podcasting allows listeners to download audio programming and play it at their convenience, but the technology poses copyright questions and revenue challenges.

Stocks Mixed on Falling Oil Prices, Dollar Drop

Stocks were mixed Thursday as investors digested falling oil prices, a new drop in the dollar and a surprise jump in jobless claims.

Hahn, Villaraigosa Line Up Endorsements

L.A. Mayor James Hahn and challenger Antonio Villaraigosa lined up an initial round of high-level endorsements on Thursday as they charged ahead into the campaign for the May 17 runoff.

Conflicting Signals on Inflation Keep Stocks Mixed

Stocks ended the day mixed Thursday as investors digested a surprise jump in jobless claims, falling oil prices and a new drop in the dollar.

Jobless Claims at Highest Level in Two Months

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits jumped by 17,000 last week to the highest level in two months, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Crude Oil Prices Fall Toward $53

Crude oil futures fell more than $1 a barrel Thursday, a selloff attributed to profit-taking one day after traders tested near-record highs above $55 a barrel.

Wednesday, March 9

Shares of 99 Cents Only Plunge as CFO, Two Directors Resign

Shares of 99 Cents Only Stores fell as much as 12.6 percent on Wednesday after the discount retailer said its recently hired CFO had resigned, along with two board members.

Dollar Continues Fall Against Euro

The dollar stumbled further against the euro Wednesday on concerns surrounding the release of U.S. monthly trade data later this week.

Hawaiian Airlines Set to Emerge From Bankruptcy

Hawaiian Airlines Inc. expects a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge to confirm a $150 million reorganization plan that would allow the airline to emerge from bankruptcy as soon as the end of this week and pay back its largest creditors.

Boeing's Janitors on Strike Against Aramark Corp.

Janitors working at Boeing's C-17 military cargo plane plant in Long Beach began a 24-hour strike Wednesday to protest alleged harassment received from attempts to unionize.

Crude Futures Near Record on Cold Weather

Oil prices came within pennies of their record peak on Wednesday before sliding back, as worries over demand growth overshadowed rising stockpile levels in the U.S.

IBM, Lenovo PC Deal Passes U.S. Review

China's Lenovo Group Ltd. won clearance from a U.S. national security oversight committee to acquire IBM's PC business, the companies said on Wednesday.

Treasury Yields Surge Higher

U.S. Treasury debt prices tumbled on Wednesday, taking benchmark yields to seven-month highs, as technical selling swept the market before the government auctions $15 billion in new debt.

Stocks Fall as Rising Oil Prices Stir Inflation Fears

Inflation fears fueled by volatile oil prices, a surge in bond yields and talk of interest rate hikes by the Fed sent stocks tumbling on Wednesday.

Villaraigosa, Hahn Headed to Rematch

L.A. City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa was headed for a rematch with incumbent Mayor James Hahn. Both appeared to be bracing for a negative runoff campaign for mayor of Los Angeles.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Earnings Roundup: SCPIE Holdings, Homestore, Staar Surgical

A number of local companies in the Los Angeles area reported higher earnings on Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 8

Earnings Roundup: Korn/Ferry International, Kroger Co.

Korn/Ferry International Inc. sees its third-quarter profit double, and Kroger Co. reports a fourth-quarter loss as it wrote down the value of two of its grocery brands, Ralphs and Food 4 Less.

Election Results Web Sites

A list of links to updated results and election turnout figures in L.A. County races. Results will be updated throughout Tuesday evening.

Capital Group Readies to Build Massive Irvine Campus

Los Angeles-based mutual fund manager Capital Group Cos. is set to start building a 520,000-square-foot Irvine campus that has been years in the making.

Ban on Smoking at County-Run Beaches Made Permanent

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to make permanent a temporary ban on smoking at county-run beaches, joining the cities of L.A., Santa Monica, Malibu and others.

Delta Reportedly in Carrier Talks With SkyWest

Delta Air Lines Inc. is in talks with SkyWest Inc. to sell the Utah airline one or two of its regional feeder carriers as it seeks to return to profitability, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Chain Store Sales Slip in March 5 Week

Chain store sales fell in the first week of March, as severe weather helped to slow sales, a report said on Tuesday.

Stocks Down on Rising Oil Prices, Texas Instruments Report

A disappointing earnings update from Texas Instruments Inc. and rising oil prices pushed stocks lower Tuesday as investors began consolidating gains from Wall Street's recent rally.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Crude Oil Prices Sag, but Still Above $53

Crude futures fell Tuesday on signals that OPEC will maintain its current production output at its upcoming meeting in Iran.

Stocks Down on Surging Oil Prices, Texas Instruments Forecast

A disappointing earnings forecast from Texas Instruments Inc. and rising oil prices pushed stocks lower Tuesday as investors consolidated gains from Wall Street's recent rally.

Monday, March 7

Partners Sober Up, Make Money by Dispensing Money

Jake Yu and David Choi, partners in Global Pronex Inc., left their hard-partying ways behind them and now service ATMs in non-bank locations.

Newspapers Face Hit

Likely victims in the Federated-May merger are newspapers, as the industry struggles for growth.

Creative Unions Line Up to Take a Shot at Reality Shows

The Screen Actors Guild is struggling to address the issues of membership requirements of the performers on reality shows.

Poll: U.S. Automakers Improve Reliability

U.S. automakers improved the reliability of their cars last year, but many Asian companies still make the most trouble-free vehicles, according to a survey by Consumer Reports magazine.

Big Retailers' Embrace of RFID Tracking Aids Avery Dennison

Avery Dennison is investing $60 million to step up production of radio I.D. tags to meet the label requirements of the nation's largest retailers.

Former Brobeck Partners Agree to $23 Million Creditor Settlement

Two years after Brobeck Phleger & Harrison LLP filed for bankruptcy, more than 200 former partners of the firm agreed to settle outstanding claims against them.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Scant Funding for Highways Leads Some to Consider Tolls

Faced with diminishing funds, state and national politicians consider different ways to pay for new highways and modernization projects.

Special Report: Who's Who Law Judging the Doctors

Medical malpractice is an intense specialty emotions run high, and awards for damages are capped under a state law that addressed some of the issues now in the federal spotlight.

Understanding Details Eases Bank Borrowing

Every day, entrepreneurs start businesses by using their credit cards and loans from relatives. But once those sources are exhausted, a small business owner's next lender will probably be a bank.

Curves, Cuts and Blitz Pump Up Niche Market in Fitness Sector

Tiny gyms are fitness franchises that typically target a niche market who want a workout that lasts no longer than 30 minutes and aren't interested in joining a larger gym packed with hard-bodies.

99 Cents Only Stores, California Pizza Kitchen May Restate Results

99 Cents Only Stores delayed the release of its fourth-quarter financial statement to evaluate its lease accounting procedures; California Pizza Kitchen Inc. is looking at similar accounting issues.

Encino Man Sentenced for Role in ChoicePoint Identity Theft Case

A federal judge sentenced an Encino man on Monday to 66 months in prison for stealing the identities of thousands of customers in the earlier of two cases involving ChoicePoint Inc.

Insider Trading Charges Haunt Ryland

Insider stock sales that preceded an unexpected decline in new home orders at Ryland Group have led to a thicket of legal problems for the homebuilder.

Method to Deliver Gene Therapies Is Firm's Latest Bet

Arrowhead Research Corp. has inked another technology deal with Caltech this time betting on a high-tech sugar molecule.

Cops Sue Studios for Overtime Pay Earned While Moonlighting

The attorney who attacked film studios over late paychecks is at it again, this time over the alleged failure to pay security guards for double time.

Oil Prices Settle Near $54 a Barrel

Crude oil futures ended slightly higher Monday, inching closer to $54 a barrel one day after the president of OPEC said that the market is "well supplied."

Bad Timing, Assumptions Cloud State Budget

It's difficult to pin down numbers in the budget because some of the primary revenue streams are notoriously volatile.

Hotel's Upgrade to End at Higher Side Of Early Estimates

The Beverly Hilton's extensive remodeling project will come in at about $60 million, the high end of early estimates.

Jamison Properties Negotiating To Buy MCI Center Downtown

After buying the MCI Center in downtown Los Angeles a year ago, Cargill Inc. is close to flipping the property for a total of $200 million, according to sources close to the deal.

The Business Journal's Mayoral Profiles and Interviews

The Business Journal profiles and interviews each of the five major candidates for mayor of Los Angeles.

McGraw-Hill Purchasing J.D. Power

McGraw-Hill Cos. announced Monday it agreed to acquire J.D. Power and Associates, a Westlake Village-based marketing information services organization.

Small Caps Boost B. Riley's Growth

Bryant Riley has developed a loyal following among money managers and hedge funds looking for down-and-out companies with significant growth potential.

L.A. Gas Prices Continue Gradual Ascent

For the eighth week in a row, gas prices moved higher in Los Angeles, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Newsmakers

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

Marketing L.A. as a Destination for Cultural Tourism

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Laura Zucker said she was an actress for about two minutes. Now, she's taking on new roles as executive director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Blue Spirit

Dodgers co-owner Jamie McCourt says that strategies off the field, including a new TV contract, will help the team's bottom line.

L.A. Stories

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

Home Work

High-tech amenities like plasma-screen televisions and WiFi are appealing to price-conscious business travelers.

Head of DirecTV's U.S. Unit Resigns

Mitch Stern, the president and chief executive of DirecTV Group Inc.'s U.S. subsidiary, resigned on Monday, the company said.

Health Insurance Emerges as Legislature's Dominant Issue

As business lobbyists pore over 3,000-plus bills introduced by the Democrat-dominated state Legislature last month, their biggest concern is with the 200 or so health care proposals.

Long Beach Expected to Outpace L.A. in Port Activity

Thanks to its capacity for the biggest freighters, Long Beach is poised to continue outpacing Los Angeles in port growth.

Boeing Ousts CEO Due to Relationship

Boeing Co. on Monday said it fired CEO Harry Stonecipher after he had an affair with a female executive that violated company rules, saying his leadership abilities had been damaged.

Homestore Settlement Distributions Set

Shareholders of Homestore Inc. who settled claims against the company last year will begin receiving individual distributions within 30 to 60 days, according to a release issued today by the company.

L.A. Magazine Parent to Launch Publication Catering to Latinos

Tu Ciudad joins the fray among upscale magazines fighting for readers and advertisers.

IHOP Finds Right Ingredients For Turnaround, Stock Rebound

For CEO Julia Stewart, the key was changing IHOP Corp.'s business model to a traditional franchisor rather than a developer of restaurants.

Mall Owners Won't Lament Federated-May Deal

The Federated-May merger highlights the shifting scene at shopping malls, as department stores become less essential in favor of national chains and discounters.

Battling Over Culpability, Calculating the Price of a Life

Attorneys representing plaintiffs and doctors in medical malpractice cases discuss the challenges of their occupation.

Radio's Look to IPod Hits Static

Podcasting allows listeners to download audio programming and play it at their convenience, but the technology poses copyright questions and revenue challenges.

Howard Stringer Tapped to Head Sony

After losing ground to rivals Apple and Nintendo, Sony made Howard Stringer its first non-Japanese chief executive.

Stocks Mixed on Boeing News, Tech Shares, Crude Rise

Stocks finished mixed on Monday as investors reacted to a management shakeup at Boeing Co. while tech shares rose on a higher profit outlook from Qualcomm Inc. and crude oil prices hovered near $54 a barrel.

Friday, March 4

Gas Prices Follow Surging Crude's Lead

Gas prices followed surging crude oil prices, helping drive the average price for regular unleaded gasoline in L.A. up 4 cents per gallon in the week ended March 4, according to AAA.

Consumer Sentiment Dips in February

U.S. consumer confidence, a barometer of consumer spending, slipped in February, according to a survey released on Friday.

Rising Prices Lead Owners to Convert Rentals to Co-Ops

Co-ops, long a popular but sometimes controversial form of for-sale housing in cities like New York and San Francisco, are starting to catch on in Southern California.

Spending in Mayoral Primary Tops $10 Million

As the race for L.A. mayor headed into its final weekend, the major candidates for mayor had spent more than $10 million. Hahn had spent $3.5 million, Villaraigosa spent $2.5 million and Hertzberg had spent $2.4 million. Of those three, Hertzberg had the

L.A. County's Unemployment Rate Dips to 6.1 Percent

The county's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.1 percent in January is down from 6.7 percent a year ago and 6.5 percent in December.

Job Gains Pick Up, Jobless Rate Rises

America's employers added 262,000 jobs in February, the biggest gain in four months, but the overall unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent from January's 5.2 percent.

Oil Prices Dip but Stay Above $53

Crude oil futures fell Friday, backing off from the previous day's surge when fund buying and supply fears drove prices sharply higher.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Stocks Climb After Positive Jobs Report

Stocks ended higher on Friday, energized by a better-than-expected jobs report that propelled stocks up as investors grew more confident about the economy.

Thursday, March 3

Oil Prices Surge Near Record

Oil prices soared above $55 a barrel on Thursday before falling back to earth after OPEC-member Nigeria said the cartel could raise production to rein in runaway prices.

Stocks End Mixed on Surging Oil Prices

Oil prices that topped $55 per barrel pressured stocks Thursday, leaving the major indexes mixed despite upbeat retail sales and strong economic news.

Worker Productivity Moves Higher

The productivity of U.S. workers rose at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the final three months of 2004, higher than first thought, a government report said Thursday.

Weekly Jobless Claims Fall

The number of Americans filing initial jobless claims dipped last week to 310,000, suggesting continued improvement in the nation's labor market, a government report showed Thursday.

Earnings Roundup: Public Storage, On Assignment, American Reprographics, Bell Industries

A number of local companies in the Los Angeles area reported higher earnings on Thursday.

Low-Profile Capital Gets High Scrutiny

Capital Group Cos. is defending itself against conflict of interest allegations while trying to maintain its pristine reputation.

ChevronTexaco Reported to Be Considering Unocal Bid

Shares of Unocal Corp. surged as much as 22 percent after The Wall Street Journal reported that ChevronTexaco Corp. is considering making a bid for its smaller rival.

Parcel Adjacent to Hilton Long Beach Sold for $18 Million

Investment firm HEI Hospitality has sold a nearly 6-acre parcel adjacent to its 393-room Hilton Long Beach hotel to Pacific Properties and Development for $18 million.

Business Briefs: Napster, DaVita, Tekelec

A selection of business news items about Los Angeles companies.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

News Corp. Ups Bid for Fox Entertainment

News Corp. on Thursday raised its offer price to buy the shares of Fox Entertainment Group it does not own, as it reached a settlement with the Fox shareholder lawsuits blocking an earlier offer.

Newspapers Face Hit

Likely victims in the Federated-May merger are newspapers, as the industry struggles for growth.

February Retail Sales Better Than Expected

Consumers encouraged by an improving economy extended their shopping spree into February, giving retailers better-than-expected sales for the month.

Judge: Schwarzenegger Erred in Suspending Parts of Nurse Staffing Law

Judge rules that Schwarzenegger exceeded his authority in suspending parts of the state's new nurse staffing law handing a victory to one of the governor's fiercest critics.

Wednesday, March 2

Teledyne Technologies Raises First Quarter, Full-Year Outlook

Teledyne Technologies Inc. on Wednesday raised its outlook for first-quarter and full-year 2005 earnings per share, citing favorable timing on some military contracts.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.

Oil Prices Surpass $53 a Barrel

Crude oil prices climbed to a four-month high above $53 a barrel Wednesday, even after a U.S. government report showed domestic supplies of oil and gasoline are rising.

Citigroup to Pay $75 Million to Settle Global Crossing Lawsuit

Citigroup Inc. agreed to pay $75 million to settle a 3-year-old lawsuit brought by investors over the banking group's role in the collapse of Global Crossing Ltd.

Economy Sound, But Spending Curbs Needed, Greenspan Says

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said Wednesday the U.S. economy is growing at a reasonably good pace, but the country must tackle its budget deficits, primarily through spending restraint.

Business Briefs: Security Pacific Bank, Franklin Capital, Whittaker Controls, Health Sciences Group

A selection of business news items about Los Angeles companies.

Stocks End Lower as Oil Price Spikes

Stocks fell on Wednesday as surging oil prices offset remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan that signaled no change in interest-rate policy.

Employers Face an Extended Wait For Relief on Workers' Comp Bills

Brokers say the average rate reduction for workers' compensation premiums has been running between 5 percent and 10 percent this year.

Employee Confidence Slides, Surveys Say

U.S. employee confidence fell sharply in February, as workers grew anxious about personal finances, layoffs and job security, according to surveys released on Wednesday.

Verizon Grants MCI Two-Week Window on Qwest

Verizon Communications, which has agreed to acquire MCI Inc., said it would grant MCI two weeks to hold talks with rival bidder Qwest Communications International Inc.

Tuesday, March 1

Chip Sector Leads Stocks to Strong Gains

Stocks rose on Tuesday after oil prices eased and brokerage upgrades on the semiconductor sector lifted chip makers.

USC Scientist Chosen to Head Committee on Stem Cell Research

Zach Hall, a neuroscientist and a dean at USC's Keck School of Medicine, was named interim president of the body overseeing Proposition 71, which will disburse some $3 billion for stem cell research.

Union Pacific to Increase Use of Rail-Truck Facilities

Union Pacific Corp. said it will increase use of a rail-truck freight terminal near Southern California ports in an effort to eliminate 500,000 highway trips and reduce road congestion on local freeways.

JPMorgan to Spin Off Private Equity Arm

JPMorgan Chase & Co. said on Tuesday it will spin off its $13 billion private equity fund, but will keep a similar unit recently acquired in its merger with Bank One Corp.

Oil Prices Dip as Cold Weather Hits U.S.

Oil slipped on Tuesday but remained well above $51 a barrel as cold U.S. weather continued to drive heating demand, threatening to exhaust thin heating oil supplies.

Manufacturing Activity Grows Slower in February

The manufacturing sector grew for the 21st consecutive month in February, although at a slower pace, a private research group reported Tuesday.

Chain Store Sales Up in Feb. 27 Week

U.S. chain store sales edged up in the fourth week and final week of February as department stores saw sales rise with the help of holiday promotional events, a report said Tuesday.

Appeals Court Panel Nullifies Homeowners' Insurance Regulations

The state Department of Insurance is considering how to respond to the decision, which would nullify a portion of Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi's Homeowners' Bill of Rights.

Oakwood Worldwide to Sell 30 Apartment Buildings for $1.4 Billion

L.A.-based Oakwood Worldwide said Tuesday it will sell 30 apartment buildings to Archstone-Smith Trust for $1.4 billion, including its flagship 1,151-unit Oakwood Toluca Hills property.

Judge Rules State Statute Sealing Divorce Filings Unconstitutional

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled a new state statute that allows entire divorce proceedings to be sealed violates the First Amendment, according to a decision issued on Monday.

Mayoral Hopefuls Play TV Chess Game

Unlike four years ago, a smaller field of candidates is now on track to spend slightly less money on political ads over a shorter period, according to political consultants and station executives.

Earnings Roundup: Semtech Corp., 3D Systems Corp., IRIS International Inc.

A number of local companies in the Los Angeles area reported higher earnings on Tuesday.

Construction Spending Jumps in January

Construction spending rose 0.7 percent in January as low mortgage rates bolstered home building and nonresidential construction climbed to the highest level in two years, a report said Tuesday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top L.A. business stories.