Stories for September 2005

Friday, September 30

Midwest Business Activity Rises

Business activity in the Midwest bounced back strongly in September after lurching lower last month, helped by accelerating new orders even as hiring slowed.

Oil Prices Dip as Traders Eye Recovery

Oil prices slipped Friday as traders monitored the recovery on the U.S. Gulf Coast after Hurricane Rita and its possible impact on winter fuel supplies.

Rita's Effect Minor on L.A. Gas Prices

Hurricane Rita's effect on Southern California gas prices has been negligible and gasoline prices in Los Angeles continued slowly declining, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Krispy Kreme Sued by Franchisee

The Los Angeles-based owners of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Inc.'s largest franchise have sued the chain, claiming executives misappropriated marketing funds and billed them for fake charges.

Consumer Sentiment Slips in September

Consumer sentiment worsened in September even more than economists had expected, a report showed Friday.

Business Briefs: Milberg Weiss, ValueClick, Kilroy Realty, Platinum Equity

A Beverly Hills psychologist was granted immunity to testify in a federal probe into Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach; ValueClick Inc. completed its acquisition of Fastclick Inc. and raised its full-year revenue estimate; Kilroy Realty Corp. bought a

Personal Incomes, Consumer Spending Fall in August

Katrina caused $100 billion in uninsured losses in August while consumer spending plunged by the largest amount since 9/11, the government reported Friday.

Specialty Laboratories Bought by AmeriPath

Specialty Laboratories Inc. on Friday agreed to be acquired by AmeriPath Inc. for $13.25 per share in a deal worth nearly $314.7 million that will take the company private.

Gas a Relative 'Bargain,' UCLA Says

UCLA economists say prices aren't really that high when adjusted for inflation and compared with the amount of income it cost to fill a tank in the 1980s.

Liberty Global to Buy Cablecom

Liberty Global agreed to buy Switzerland's Cablecom for about $2.2 billion, halting the country's biggest flotation in four years and taking investors by surprise.

Update: L.A. City Council OKs Downtown Hotel Package

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday approved subsidies worth up to $286 million to help finance a 1,100-room hotel next to the city's struggling convention center.

Stocks Close Higher for Quarter

Stocks ended slightly higher on Friday, helping to push indexes to their best quarterly finish for 2005, as a dip in crude oil prices lifted shares of companies that are heavy users of fuel.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Thursday, September 29

Manufacturers Cut Outlook for Growth

A manufacturing group cut its outlook for 2005 growth and factory output due to the destruction of the hurricanes, but said economic expansion should rebound in 2006 as rebuilding begins.

E-Trade to Buy JPMorgan's BrownCo

E*Trade Financial Corp. said on Thursday it would buy BrownCo from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. for $1.6 billion, its second major acquisition since August.

DirecTV Teams Up With XM

DirecTV Group said Thursday it will offer 72 music and talk-radio channels to its customers under an agreement struck with XM Satellite Radio Holdings.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Crude Prices Gain

Oil prices rose Thursday and product prices fell after a U.S. inventory report showed shrinking crude stocks but an unexpected build in gasoline stocks.

GDP Grew Solidly Before Hurricanes

The economy was growing solidly before the hurricanes, whose double blow is expected to make for rocky business activity in the months ahead.

Stocks Rise on Positive Data

Stocks rallied on Thursday as encouraging government data gave investors more confidence about the economy despite the impact of the two recent hurricanes.

Californians Expect Bad Economic Conditions Over Next Year

Californians have turned pessimistic about the outlook for the state's economy, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Thursday.

Katrina-Related Jobless Claims Climb

The number of Americans thrown out of work by Katrina climbed by another 60,000 last week, pushing the number of workers seeking jobless benefits because of the storm to 279,000.

Credit Lyonnais Settlement Approved

A federal judge has approved a $600 million settlement between California insurance regulators and a French government entity acting on behalf of Credit Lyonnais SA.

Hollywood Reporter, Billboard May Be Sold to Appease VNU Investors

VNU NV may sell its business information unit, which includes The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, to win investor support for its planned acquisition of IMS Health Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported.

Wednesday, September 28

Guess in Watch Licensing Pact With Timex Unit

Guess Inc. on Wednesday said it signed a 10-year licensing agreement with Callanen International Inc., the Timex Corp. unit that has produced and distributed Guess watches for more than 20 years.

Business Briefs: Northrop Grumman, Edison International, Activision, Computer Sciences Corp.

Northrop's $6.8 billion environmental satellite is being investigated by the Air Force for cost overruns, Edison International says it will update its 2005 outlook when its third-quarter earnings are released, Activision Inc.'s board approves a 4-for-3 st

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Miller Named as L.A.'s Chief Legislative Analyst

After a lengthy search, the Los Angeles City Council decided to go in-house in choosing its new chief legislative analyst, selecting acting CLA Gerry Miller.

Oil Prices Rise After Report

Oil prices rose more than $1 Wednesday after a U.S. petroleum inventory report showed a dip in crude and distillate stocks and a sharp rise in gasoline stocks.

Stocks Mixed on Inventory Report, Durable Goods

Stocks ended mixed Wednesday after investors weighed a positive durable goods report against a jump in oil prices that briefly sent crude futures above $67 per barrel, stirring economic worries.

'Housing Party' Is Over, UCLA Anderson Forecast Says

California's economy is buoyed by a real estate bubble that could deflate at any time, say economists at the UCLA Anderson Forecast in their quarterly report released Wednesday.

Gazprom Buys Sibneft for $13.1 Billion

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom on Wednesday signed Russia's biggest-ever takeover, buying control of Sibneft for $13.1 billion from Millhouse Capital.

Durable Goods Orders Rise

New orders for big-ticket manufactured products jumped 3.3 percent in August, the fastest pace in three months, after falling by 5.3 percent in July.

Making Ends Meet Difficult in L.A.

A single parent needs to earn $54,000 a year to pay for the basics of raising a family, according to a study released Wednesday from the California Budget Project, a left-leaning Sacramento think tank.

L.A. Times Parent to Appeal Tax Ruling

Tribune Co., the owner of the Los Angeles Times, said on Tuesday it will appeal a U.S. Tax Court ruling against it for approximately $1 billion in tax deficiencies.

Kodak Says Digital Profit Disappointing

Eastman Kodak Co. said operating profit from digital products was lower than expected because of weakness in its business with the medical industry.

Tuesday, September 27

Oil Prices Ease After Rally

Crude oil prices eased Tuesday after a robust rally a day earlier amid concerns about oil supplies as refinery damage by Hurricane Rita is being assessed.

Consumer Confidence Dives

Consumer confidence plummeted in September as Americans worried about the economic fallout of Hurricane Katrina and rising gasoline prices.

New Home Sales Plunge, Prices Rise

Sales of new U.S. homes dropped 9.9 percent in August and the supply of homes for sale surged to a record high, but prices resumed their upward climb.

Chain Store Sales Rise

U.S. chain store sales slowed in the fourth week of September, as retailers complained of sluggish sales due to weather, a report said on Tuesday.

THQ Unveils 'Star Wars' Phone Game

THQ Inc. signaled its commitment to the mobile-phone video game market on Tuesday when its wireless unit unveiled a multi-player game based on the "Star Wars" movie franchise.

WellPoint to Buy WellChoice

Health insurer WellPoint Inc. announced an agreement Tuesday to buy insurer WellChoice Inc. for about $6.5 billion in cash and stock.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Business Briefs: Computer Sciences Corp., Jacobs Engineering, Macerich, Disney

Computer Sciences Corp. is awarded a $42.3 million IT services contract, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. receives a $137 million contract to upgrade a major roadway in Ireland, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

DreamWorks Ends Talks With Universal

DreamWorks SKG ended talks to be acquired by General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal unit, The Wall Street Journal reported. The talks may resume at a future date.

The Harlem Globetrotters of Burbank?

Roy E. Disney and Stanley P. Gold acquired an 80 percent stake in the Harlem Globetrotters through their Shamrock Capital Growth Fund, the Burbank-based investment entity the two founded.

Stocks Mixed on Greenspan Comments, Consumer Confidence

Stocks ended the session mixed Tuesday after Fed Chief Alan Greenspan said the economy has weathered the oil price surge "reasonably well" and consumer confidence suffered its biggest drop in 15 years.

Disney Discussing Korean Park

Walt Disney Co. is in talks with the city of Seoul to open a theme park near the South Korean capital, according to news reports on Tuesday. A decision could be announced early next year.

Occidental to Deliver Libyan Crude for First Time in 20 Years

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Tuesday it will deliver the first shipment of oil to the U.S. from Libyan fields since international sanctions were levied against the country nearly 20 years ago.

Monday, September 26

L.A. Gas Prices Steady Amid Rita

The price of an average gallon of self-serve regular in the Los Angeles area stayed nearly constant from last week, falling just one-tenth of a cent to $2.933 for the week ended Sept. 26.

Sole Proprietors Face New Challenges if Their Businesses Become Insolvent

Hardest hit by the bankruptcy laws will be sole proprietors, including consultants, accountants and attorneys.

Diminishing Returns

Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoyed the support of the business community when he took office last year, but his backers fear he may turn out to be a one-term wonder.

Business Briefs: Public Storage, Homestore, Nara Bancorp, Ameron International

Public Storage says it may raise its bid for Shurgard Storage Centers, Homestore will reimburse $11 million in defense costs to its former chairman, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Grokster Merges While Morpheus Gets Ready for Its Courtroom Date

With Grokster Ltd. said to be in talks with the legal file-sharing startup Mashboxx, is the pressure mounting on Grokster's local comrades-in-arms to go the legit route too?

Disaster Spending May Create Its Own Disaster

As a matter of public policy, the blank-check approach is expensive, inefficient and immoral. Can't we figure out a better way?

Concern Grows Among Governor's Supporters

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoyed the support of the business community when he took office last year, but his backers fear he may turn out to be a one-term wonder.

Good Guess

Georges Marciano bought a Beverly Hills building in the early 1990s for $27 million and just sold it for a $100 millionplus profit.

Dial Thru Counts on Military Families to Build Its Internet Phone Business

Dial Thru International Inc. is betting its future on voice over Internet protocol making calls over broadband data lines and targeting military families.

Bally Fitness Firm Under Fire, Investor Seeks Ouster of CEO

Emanuel Pearlman admits he has an ax to grind with his former company, Chicago-based Bally Total Fitness Holding Co. and its chief executive, Paul Toback.

Boeing, Union Reach Tentative Agreement

Workers and management at Boeing Co.'s commercial plane division worked out a tentative agreement that could allow the airline giant to resume production.

Juicy Whip Wins Patent Dispute Over Faux-Liquid Drink Display

Orange Bang Inc. lost a nine-year suit over drink dispenser displays in a cautionary tale of the risks incurred in battles over inventions.

Teamsters Sign New Contract With Ralphs

Kroger Co., the operator of Ralphs supermarkets, said Monday that seven International Brotherhood of Teamsters locals in Southern California ratified a new five-year contract.

Innkeeper Breaks Budget Mold With Portfolio of Posh Holdings

B.U. Patel started with budget motels, but then began purchasing major properties in Orange County.

USC Tops UCLA in National Ranking This Time in Business, Not in Football

USC's Marshall School of Business placed 10th in the latest Wall Street Journal ranking, leapfrogging over UCLA's Anderson School.

L.A. County Scrambles to Keep Nissan Headquarters

Los Angeles County officials may offer tax or energy incentives to discourage Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. from moving its U.S. headquarters out of the county, Bloomberg News reported.

Dynamic Duo Make Mark on Jeans World

The colorful duo of Chip and Pepper Foster are riding the wave of designer jeans to new popularity.

Debatable Point: Who Takes the Hit Under Bankruptcy Reform?

New bankruptcy laws mean creditors won't be hung up so long in the process, while it will be harder for debtors to walk away whole.

Video Game Sector Enters Lawsuit Age

The video game industry is keeping an eye on a lawsuit filed against the publisher by an independent developer.

Business Owners Angered by Hollywood's Renewal Plans

A mixed-use project featuring a W hotel, retail space, apartments and condos could displace small businesses through eminent domain.

Power Failure

L.A.'s water and power agency is playing catch-up on its maintenance and infrastructure requirements.

Stuff

Inventive, new products from Los Angeles-area companies.

Intermix Rejects Former CEO's Offer

Intermix Media on Monday rejected a proposal by former CEO Brad Greenspan to buy an interest in the company and recommended stockholders vote for the pending $580 million acquisition by News Corp.

Health Premiums Keep Climbing, Businesses Shift Costs to Workers

The cost of health coverage is continuing to increase, and in response employers are beginning to offer highdeductible plans.

SpaceX Pursues Goal of Low-Cost Launch

SpaceX counts on reusable rockets to offer low-cost launches to small companies and universities.

Lights, Camera, Katrina

Reconstruction following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina may help the state compete with California for film and TV shoots.

Whole Foods Goes to Hollywood in Mixed-Use Project

While downtown will soon be getting a Ralphs supermarket, Whole Foods Market Inc. will open a location in the heart of what's being dubbed as Hollywood's residential renaissance.

Hospitals Cater to Korean Influx With Specially Designed Wards

Good Samaritan is on a growing list of local facilities that are targeting the region's Korean population.

IndyMac Grew by Issuing Mortgages Online, Now It's Opening Branches

IndyMac made its mark by offering online mortgage services, and it has an aggressive plan to open branches.

Australian Firm Wants to Put the Sizzle Back in Sizzler

Worldwide Restaurant Concepts Inc. shareholders have decided that steak and seafood are better on the barbie.

Still Plenty of Oil for Refineries, EIA Says

There's plenty of crude oil in storage for refineries to use even if a large chunk of production in the Gulf of Mexico remains offline due to Hurricane Rita, a government energy analyst said on Monday.

Dr. Phil Brings Loyal Viewers to KCBS, but Doesn't Boost News

Folksy TV shrink Dr. Phil has had a therapeutic effect on KCBS (Channel 2)'s afternoon ratings since the station grabbed him from rival KNBC (Channel 4) earlier this month.

Cable Guy

Roger Keating is leading the regional division of Time Warner Cable as it takes over the services of Adelphia and Comcast.

Investors Loving Iger's Sweet Talk

Robert Iger officially replaces Michael Eisner this week, but he has already made positive first impressions on Wall Street.

Mr. Hollywood's Threshold of Digital Cinema

People across L.A. tell us how they do what they do.

LLC Filings Skewing Picture of State's Economic Activity

The rising popularity of LLCs for real estate investors skews economic data, making it appear that activity is on the upswing.

House-O-Matic

Semaphoric Smart Homes is working to provide curtain-opening and light dimming for the middle class.

Oil Rises as Markets Assess Damage

Oil prices edged up in jittery trading Monday, as the oil industry assessed the damage caused by Hurricane Rita over the weekend.

Home Sales at Second-Highest Level

Sales of previously owned homes rose in August to the second-highest level on record with home prices rising at the fastest pace in 26 years.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Stocks Rise on Relief from Rita

Stocks ended the day slightly higher Monday as oil prices hovered near $66 a barrel in spite of lower-than-expected damage estimates from Hurricane Rita.

Newsmakers

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

Corporate Profits Rise but Katrina, Rita Cloud Future Growth Horizon

Companies making up the Standard & Poor's 500 are expected to report an 18.2 percent rise in third-quarter earnings, but the future is clouded by hurricanes and rising oil prices.

L.A. County Home Prices Up in August

The median price of an existing home in L.A. County rose 23.9 percent to $564,340 in August from $455,590 one year earlier, according to the California Association of Realtors.

Friday, September 23

Rita Slashes Gasoline Output

Even before Hurricane Rita makes landfall, the U.S. market has lost 2.2 million barrels per day in gasoline production and another 1.2 million bpd in distillate fuel output after Gulf Coast oil refineries shut down.

Yucaipa, Equity Firm Buy Aloha Airlines

Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. and private equity firm IBS Capital Holdings agreed to buy Aloha Airlines for $100 million in cash and debt, allowing the company to emerge from bankruptcy by year-end.

USC Tops UCLA in Business Ranking

USC's Marshall School of Business placed 10th in the latest Wall Street Journal ranking, leapfrogging over UCLA's Anderson School of Management. UCLA came in at 19th.

Rita Could Fuel L.A. Gas Price Hike

L.A. gas prices continued declining this week, but the threat of Hurricane Rita to the oil-producing regions of the Gulf Coast may send gas prices up again, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Oil Prices Drop as Rita Weakens

Oil prices fell Friday for a second day and gasoline futures prices slipped as traders welcomed news that Hurricane Rita had weakened.

Business Briefs: Churchill Downs, Diodes, Walt Disney Co.

Churchill Downs completes sale of Hollywood Park, Diodes Inc. prices a secondary offering and Walt Disney Co. says it will take a $68 million charge as a result of Delta Air Lines Inc.'s bankruptcy filing.

Marciano Building Fetches $135 Million

Georges Marciano bought a Beverly Hills building in the early 1990s for $27 million and just sold it for a $100 million-plus profit. That works out to $613 a square foot for the nine-story building.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Chinese Daily News Votes Not to Unionize

More than four years after narrowly voting to join a union in a disputed election, workers at the Monterey Park-based newspaper on Thursday decided overwhelmingly not to unionize.

Stocks End Mixed as Rita Weakens

Wall Street rallied to finish mostly higher Friday, as Hurricane Rita lost strength and raised hopes that its impact on Gulf Coast refineries wouldn't be as bad as was initially feared.

Katrina Pushes Down Economy Gauge

Higher jobless claims and lower stock prices after Hurricane Katrina caused a gauge of the economy to slip in the latest week, a report said on Friday.

HCA Subpoena May Involve Frist Sales

HCA Inc. said Friday that federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for documents that may be related to the sale of its stock by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Former Intermix CEO Aims to Scuttle News Corp. Deal

Intermix Media Inc.'s ousted former CEO Brad Greenspan offered on Friday to acquire a significant interest in the company for $13.50 a share to quell a lower offer by News Corp.

Thursday, September 22

Rita to Seriously Disrupt Oil Supply

A total of 21 oil refineries that account for 27.5 percent of U.S. refining capacity lie in the potential path of Rita, the American Petroleum Institute said Thursday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Oil Prices Near $68

Oil prices neared $68 a barrel Thursday as Hurricane Rita closed in on Texas, raising fears it would hit key production facilities along the Gulf Coast.

Stocks Rise on Weakened Rita

Stocks ended higher on Thursday, overcoming four days of losses after Rita weakened slightly to a still-powerful Category 4 storm, causing crude futures to decline.

Sony to Cut 10,000 Jobs

Sony Corp. said on Thursday it would cut about 7 percent of its global work force, sell more than $1 billion in assets and post a loss this year.

Business Briefs: Pacific Energy Partners, Northrop, Pyramid Biological

Pacific Energy Partners gets regulatory approvals for its $455 million acquisition of Valero assets, Northrop Grumman wins a $125 million Marine Corps contract, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Mossimo Founder to Take Company Private

Mossimo Giannulli, founder and majority shareholder of Mossimo Inc., agreed to buy the 35 percent of Mossimo shares he doesn't own for $5 each, taking the Santa Monica-based clothing maker private.

MPAA Taps Pisano as Its New President

The Motion Picture Assn. of America on Thursday named former Screen Actors Guild leader and veteran Hollywood executive Bob Pisano as its president and chief operating officer.

Katrina-Related Jobless Claims Surge

The number of Americans thrown out of work by Hurricane Katrina shot up last week, bringing the total seeking jobless benefits because of the storm to 214,000, the government said Thursday.

Consumer Confidence Sags Before Katrina

A gauge of economic activity fell for the second straight month during August as consumer confidence sagged even before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

KB Home Profit Jumps, Beating Estimates

KB Home on Thursday said its third-quarter profit nearly doubled, beating analysts' estimates, and the L.A.-based homebuilder raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Wednesday, September 21

Home Mortgages Up Last Week

Applications for U.S. residential mortgages rose last week as higher interest rates failed to deter borrowers from refinancing their existing home loans.

Oil Leaps on Rita Evacuations

Concerns that Hurricane Rita could hit oil facilities in Texas lifted oil prices more than $1 a barrel Wednesday as workers fled oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Boeing Machinist Strike Worries Local Subcontractors

More than 90 companies in Los Angeles County that supply components to Boeing could lose a major source of revenue should jet production remain on hold due to a machinists' strike.

Stocks Slammed as Storm Approaches

Stocks fell and oil prices surged on Wednesday as Hurricane Rita headed toward the already-damaged Gulf Coast as a Category 5 storm, the highest possible, with winds hitting 165 miles per hour.

California's Home Sales to Cool in 2006

California's housing market will likely cool in 2006, with sales declining slightly from this year's record pace, according to a forecast Wednesday by the California Association of Realtors.

Judge OKs $6.1 Billion in WorldCom Settlements

A federal judge Wednesday approved settlements that will return more than $6.1 billion to investors who suffered losses in the WorldCom Inc. accounting fraud.

Morgan Stanley Profit Slips 83 Percent

Morgan Stanley on Wednesday said third-quarter profit fell 83 percent as a $1 billion charge from the sale of its aircraft-leasing business and severance costs offset increases in banking and trading activity.

IMF Worried About Energy Prices

Hurricane Katrina's reach is global, as higher energy prices cast a cloud of uncertainty over a world economy that otherwise is on track to log solid growth this year.

Verizon Deal a Preview of Disney's Tech Future, Iger Says

Robert Iger, CEO-elect of Walt Disney Co., said Wednesday that a just-announced distribution deal with Verizon's soon-to-launch Fios video service was a prime example of technology-driven initiatives he'll be pursuing.

Update: JetBlue Flight Lands Safely at LAX

JetBlue Flight 292 developed a problem with its nose gear after takeoff from Burbank Airport and was diverted to LAX for an emergency landing.

Kerkorian May Seek GM Board Seat, Increased Stake

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. said on Wednesday it may ask for representation on General Motors Corp.'s board and that it intends to raise its stake in the automaker.

Tuesday, September 20

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

L.A. Seeks Preparedness Funds After Katrina

With L.A. prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods, officials have their eyes on new federal money after the New Orleans disaster.

Mattel Falls on Weak Barbie Outlook

Shares of Mattel Inc. fell nearly 6 percent in heavy trading volume Tuesday after an analyst downgraded the El Segundo-based toymaker's stock based on continued weakness at its Barbie doll brand.

OPEC Offers Spare Oil

OPEC agreed to a deal Tuesday, offering up its remaining spare production capacity in a bid to reassure consumer countries about energy supply security.

Business Briefs: Salem Communications, Northrop, Southwest Water, Alexandria Real Estate

Salem Communications Corp. increases its third-quarter guidance, Northrop Grumman Corp. names Jerry B. Agee president of its Mission Systems sector, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Oil Prices Drop Back Near $66

Oil prices fell more than $1 a barrel Tuesday as traders took profits from a spike a day earlier, brought about by worries that Hurricane Rita could inflict further damage to an industry reeling from Katrina.

Fed Boosts Rates a Quarter-Point

The Federal Reserve on Tuesday boosted a key interest rate for the 11th straight time and signaled that more rate hikes were likely.

99 Cents Only Delays Earnings as Deloitte Resigns

The discount retailer said Tuesday that its external auditor, Deloitte & Touche LLP, had resigned and the company will further delay the filing of its earnings statements for the first two quarters of 2005.

Former Gemstar Chief to Plead Guilty to Obstructing SEC Investigation

Henry Yuen, the former CEO of Gemstar-TV Guide International, plans to plead guilty to criminal charges of obstructing an SEC investigation into accounting irregularities at the company.

Store Sales Drop on Economic Worries

Chain store retail sales dropped in the latest week due to high gas prices, ripple effects of Hurricane Katrina and consumer concern about the economy.

Housing Construction Falls

Construction of new homes edged down in August for a second consecutive month, providing evidence that the red-hot housing market may be cooling.

CKE Restaurants Swings to Profit

CKE Restaurants Inc. on Tuesday reported that it swung to a profit in the second quarter ended Aug. 15, exceeding analysts' estimates and reversing a year-earlier loss.

Stocks Fall on Fed Rate Rise

Investors concerned about slowing economic growth sent stocks lower Tuesday after the Fed said it would continue raising interest rates despite Wall Street's worries about the economic impact of Katrina.

Monday, September 19

Learning Curve

Marlene Canter parlayed her experience running a teacher-training company into the presidency of the L.A. school board; now Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants a say in how the district is run.

Hilton Union Battle Stretches From Glendale to L.A.

Why are Los Angeles politicians involved in a union battle at the Glendale Hilton? Follow the money to the Convention Center hotel project.

NBC Boosts Ad Spending

Seeking to boost its sagging ratings, NBC is increasing its spending on advertising by 30 percent this television season, according to executives at the General Electric Co.-owned network.

Converging Forces Push Up Local M & A; Activity

Merger and acquisition activity has heated up in Los Angeles County, driven by low interest rates, aggressive lenders and corporate buyers snapping up companies to grow market share.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Tag Team

The New Orleans flood has meant a boost in sales for Precision Dynamics Corp., a San Fernando company that makes both high-tech and low-tech I.D. Bracelets.

Historic Santa Monica Building Eyed for Boutique Hotel

The owner of the Santa Monica Professional building intends to convert the 77-year-old structure on Wilshire Boulevard into a boutique hotel.

Musician Singing a New Tune as Licensing Executive

Psychology, singing, production and licensing Danielle Lindy covers it all.

Rev It Up

Air Flow Research Heads Inc. in Pacoima modifies high-performance engines for extra power and added fuel economy.

Toll Time?

A funding shortfall may delay plans to rebuild the Gerald Desmond Bridge, but a toll could close the gap.

Storm Damage Won't Drown Countrywide

Countrywide Financial Corp. announced that Katrina's impact would "not be insignificant," with losses topping $70 million from the entire 2005 hurricane season.

OPEC Debates Raising Output Ceiling

OPEC ministers, trying to calm a market rattled by refinery shutdowns and supply concerns, debated Monday whether to boost the group's official output ceiling or make available extra barrels from reserves.

Huffington Post Translates Into Print After Three-Month Delay

The Huffington Post's leap to print was so late in coming that one media-related blog showed a picture of the Loch Ness Monster when it mentioned Huffington's blog.

Shareholder Alleges Big 5 Wasn't Playing by the Rules

There are no timeouts for Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. A shareholder has sued the El Segundo-based company, alleging Big 5's financial reporting problems were a breach of its fiduciary duties.

Turn On, Tune In ...

KLAC-AM is leveraging its lineup to compete with KLSX-FM as the post-Howard Stern era in L.A. radio approaches.

Local Ports Could Clog Again Due to Gulf Coast Diversions

Plans to ease congestion at local facilities could fail to bear results due to Gulf Coast rail diversions, according to a new report.

Newsmakers

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

Poorer Markets Hot as Housing Boom Tails Off

Lower-income minority families are increasingly getting swept up in L.A. County's housing mania, but with loans made to higher-risk borrowers that carry above-market interest rates.

Guitar Center in Harmony With Investors as It Rings Up Sales

Guitar Center Inc., which dominates the retail market for guitars, band instruments and recording equipment, has found a new key to success: opening smaller stores.

ChoicePoint Case Highlights Evolution of Identity Theft

ChoicePoint was hit by a local fraud long before it disclosed it may have divulged the personal information of 145,000 people to identity thieves posing as small businesses.

Quiznos Finds Fast Growth Has Its Costs as It Battles Franchisees in Court

A Los Angeles court ruled that owners could keep two Long Beach sandwich shops open.

Entrepreneur Finds Reality Television Pays Off After All

Teresis Media Management offers digital editing that makes it easier for reality TV crews to log and retrieve clips.

L.A. Investment Firm Sues Bally

A Los Angeles-based investment firm with past ties to Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp. is trying to take control of the Chicago-based health club operator.

Stocks Fall on Rita, Fed Worries

Stocks plunged on Monday as anxiety over another hurricane slamming into the Gulf Coast sent oil prices surging beyond $67 a barrel, while investors worried about a possible rate increase by the Fed on Tuesday.

Even A-List Stars Check Their Egos as Organizers Whip Up Disaster Relief

It can take months to finalize the lineup for an A-list show like the Academy Awards. Yet within a week, concerts, telethons, and other Katrina fundraising events fell into place. But how?

Holding Pattern

More than 90 companies in Los Angeles County that supply components to Boeing could lose a major source of revenue should jet production remain on hold due to a machinists' strike.

Exports Surge Driving Port Container Traffic

Container traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach shot up nearly 10 percent in August from a year earlier, mostly due to a continuing surge in exports from the Port of Long Beach.

Organic Food Company Bags Key Trial in Wal-Mart's Aisles

Cedarlane's organic products are getting a trial run on the shelves of retail giant Wal-Mart.

Fed to Raise Interest Rates Tuesday

The Federal Reserve will likely push through its 11th consecutive hike in interest rates on Tuesday, notwithstanding the blow to the economy from Katrina.

REITs Get Mixed Investment Review Amid Rise in Rates

Four Los Angeles REITS have received "neutral" ratings from Harris Nesbitt Corp.

Oil Prices Rise More Than $4

Crude futures surged above $67 a barrel Monday amid worries that a storm off the Bahamas could hit U.S. oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico later this week.

The Toy Game Can Be Serious Business, Too

People across L.A. tell us how they do what they do.

Ex-Tyco Executives Sentenced

Dennis Kozlowski, the former Tyco International Ltd. CEO, and the company's former CFO, Mark Swartz, were sentenced on Monday to up to 25 years in prison.

Business Briefs: Guess, Keystone Automotive, Image Entertainment

Guess and Fossil end negotiations for a licensing agreement for Guess watches, Keystone Automotive Industries expects to lose $1 million in sales due to Katrina, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Nike Profit Beats Forecasts

Nike Inc. posted a bigger-than-expected 32 percent jump in quarterly profit on Monday on strong sales in the key U.S. footwear market.

Stuff

Inventive, new products from Los Angeles-area companies.

Lookin' Tough

Toni Ko is finding it's tough going for her NYX Los Angeles makeup company to squeeze into large chains.

Minimum Wage Hike Heads to Governor for Possible Veto

The special election in November has meant fewer "job killer" bills are headed to Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk, and those are likely face a veto.

Judge Rules Against Burkle's Daughter in Money Dispute

Billionaire supermarket magnate Ronald Burkle has succeeded in tossing out a lawsuit filed by his daughter, Carrie Burkle, over money she claims he owes her.

Video Game Publisher Finds Competitors Are Good Source of Labor

Santa Monica-based video game developer Climax Group Inc. has been poaching its neighbors, including Activision Inc. and the local offices of competitor Electronic Arts Inc.

Activision Counting on X-Men and Spider-Man to Do Their Superhero Stuff

Activision is counting on the X-Men and Spider-Man to attract buyers for new video games.

Villaraigosa Overhauls CRA Board

Saying he wants to move more aggressively on projects to revitalize blighted neighborhoods, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he was overhauling the Community Redevelopment Agency's Board of Commissioners.

L.A. Seeks Preparedness Funds in Wake of Katrina Disaster

With L.A. prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods, officials have their eyes on new federal money after the New Orleans disaster.

Daily News Experiments With Reader-Written Journalism

The Daily News will launch a supplement providing its readers with a forum to write their own news.

Gas Prices Poised for Another Rise

Gas prices in the Los Angeles area continued to inch away from record highs above $3 nearly two weeks ago, but with Tropical Storm Rita on the way, the respite was looking to be short-lived.

KB Home Targeting D.C. Market

KB Home said Monday it is opening a unit to target the rapidly appreciating Washington, D.C. housing market. The new Mid-Atlantic unit will build homes in the nation's capital, Maryland and Virginia.

Friday, September 16

Current Account Deficit Shows Improvement

The U.S. deficit in the broadest measure of international trade showed improvement in the April-June quarter but was still at the second-highest level in history.

Gov. Schwarzenegger to Run Again

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday officially announced he intends to run for re-election next November. He made the announcement at a forum in San Diego.

L.A.'s Job Growth Remains Flat

L.A. County's unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in August, its lowest in nearly five years, while payroll job growth remained flat, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.

Capstone Shares Drop on Affiliate Trouble

Shares of Capstone Turbine Corp. fell 12 percent Friday after it announced it might terminate its agreement with an affiliated company that markets and services Capstone power generation systems.

Consumer Confidence Drops After Katrina

California consumer confidence plummeted in the third quarter, according to a survey from the Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University.

Villaraigosa Appoints Interim Planning Director

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Mark Winogrond as interim planning director, replacing longtime Planning Director Con Howe.

Fund Shortfall Puts Squeeze on Bridge

A funding shortfall may delay plans to rebuild the Gerald Desmond Bridge a vital trucking conduit from Terminal Island to downtown Long Beach but a toll could close the gap.

Stocks Up on Exxon, Intel Upgrades

Stocks gained Friday, as the energy and basic materials sectors improved and Dow components Exxon Mobil Corp. and Intel Corp. climbed on upgrades.

Gauge of Economy Slips

A jump in initial jobless claims after Hurricane Katrina caused a leading index of the U.S. economy to slip in the latest week, a report said on Friday.

Power Outage to Pump Up L.A. Gas Prices

L.A. gas prices inched lower, but Monday's power outage caused refineries to interrupt operations, a situation that could send prices higher next week, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Consumer Sentiment Plummets

Consumer sentiment plunged in early September as the fallout from Hurricane Katrina made Americans nervous about an economic slowdown, a report said Friday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Oil Drops on Signs of Falling Prices

Oil prices dropped to $63 a barrel Friday after OPEC reaffirmed traders' belief that the high retail price of gas is driving away consumers.

Thursday, September 15

Jobless Claims, Energy Prices Rise

About 68,000 Americans who lost their jobs due to Hurricane Katrina filed for unemployment last week, while consumer inflation rose by 0.5 percent in August.

Oil Prices Stay Above $65

Crude oil prices held above $65 a barrel after U.S. petroleum data showed a decline in crude stocks but a rise in gasoline inventories.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Former Marsh & McLennan Execs Indicted

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on Thursday said a grand jury has indicted eight former executives of the N.Y.-based insurance brokerage on felonies involving bid rigging.

Bear Stearns' Third-Quarter Profit Jumps

Bear Stearns Cos. on Thursday said third-quarter profit swelled 34 percent to beat analyst targets, helped by strength across most of its businesses.

Business Briefs: Disney, Pacific Energy Partners, HCC Industries, AECOM

Disney becomes the first major studio to back an effort to install digital systems in theaters, Pacific Energy Partners sells $175 million of 10-year senior notes, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Stocks End Mixed Ahead of Fed News

Stocks finished the session mixed Thursday as investors mulled whether a jumble of weak economic reports could end the Federal Reserve's streak of interest rate hikes.

Staar Reports Favorable FDA Inspection

Staar Surgical Co. said Thursday it believed the FDA was unlikely to pursue enforcement action against the company based on a Wednesday inspection of its main manufacturing plant.

Napster Announces College Deals

Napster Inc. said Thursday that the University of California, California State University and the University of North Carolina will allow it to offer its subscription music downloading service to students.

Chamber of Commerce's CEO Resigns

Amid a lengthy battle with cancer, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Rusty Hammer announced his resignation Thursday.

Microsoft-AOL Joint Venture 'Not Imminent'

Time Warner Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have been in business discussions over the past several months regarding Internet search and advertising networks, but not a joint venture.

Wednesday, September 14

Oil Rise Drives Down Stocks

Stocks dipped lower on Wednesday after a sharp rise in oil prices heightened concerns that higher energy costs would affect corporate profits, slowing the economy.

Update: Image Entertainment Calls Lions Gate Offer 'Low'

A day after Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. announced its offer to buy Image Entertainment Inc. for as much as $93 million, Image said the proposal was unsolicited and that it is not for sale. Image still appointed a committee to evaluate the offer.

Smart & Final Settles Compensation Suit

Smart & Final Inc. has settled a class-action lawsuit that alleges the company didn't properly compensate store employees over a six-year period, the company said Wednesday.

Delta, Northwest File for Bankruptcy

Delta Air Lines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors Wednesday, becoming the third and fourth major carriers to enter Chapter 11 since 9/11.

Industrial Production Rises

Output from U.S. factories, mines and utilities rose just 0.1 percent in August as Hurricane Katrina curtailed production at the end of the month, a Fed report indicated Wednesday.

Oil Prices Up. Inventories Down

Oil prices rose over $1 a barrel on Wednesday after the government reported a drop in U.S. crude inventories last week.

L.A. Times Parent Reports August Revenue Drop

The Tribune Co. saw its revenues drop in August as its major newspaper property the Los Angeles Times again reported declines in most categories of advertising, the company reported Wednesday.

Disney Studio to Lose Up to $300 Million

Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday said its movie studio division would post a loss of up to $300 million in the current quarter, hurt by weak ticket sales and higher marketing expenses from Miramax releases.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Disney's ESPN Locks in Baseball Rights

ESPN secured cable rights Wednesday for Major League Baseball games through 2013, locking in what has been a profitable venture for ESPN parent Walt Disney Co.

Retail Sales Slump in August

Retail sales slumped last month after a drop in car sales, the government said Wednesday, but demand outside of autos showed the economy was strong before Katrina.

Unite Here Leaves AFL-CIO

Unite Here is leaving the AFL-CIO to join a group of dissident unions that want the organized labor movement to spend more time and money recruiting new members.

Tuesday, September 13

Chain Store Sales Rise

U.S. chain store sales rose in the second week of September bolstered by back-to-school sales, a report said on Tuesday.

KTTV Settles Interference Case

Fox affiliate KTTV (Channel 11) is entering a settlement with San Diego's KGTV over the stations' signals, which the FCC said will be too close to each other when digital broadcasting takes effect.

L.A. Job Market Shows Weakness

Nearly one-third of L.A.-area employers plan to cut payrolls in the fourth quarter, while only half that number plan to add jobs, according to a survey released Tuesday by Manpower Inc.

Producer Prices Up, Trade Gap Narrows

Producer prices surged 0.6 percent last month as energy costs soared, and the trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly in July as exports hit a record high, the government said on Tuesday in two reports.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Confidence Falls to Record Low

Confidence in the U.S. economy fell to a record low in September as Hurricane Katrina made consumers pessimistic about the economy and personal finances, said a survey on Tuesday.

Stocks Slip on Best Buy, Oil

Stocks ended lower on Tuesday on disappointing earnings from electronics retailer Best Buy Co. Inc. and on worries that high oil and gas prices could curb consumer spending.

City Council Expands Chick's Duties

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved $240,000 for the creation of a waste and fraud unit within the office of City Controller Laura Chick.

Business Briefs: OSI Systems, eCost.com, Jacobs Engineering, Northrop, Jamdat, Siderean Software

OSI Systems Inc. informs the SEC it will be late filing its form 10-K, eCost.com Inc.'s CFO resigns "to pursue other business opportunities," and other briefs about Los Angeles companies.

Oil Rises After Days of Declines

Crude oil futures rose Tuesday, ending two days of decline that reflected expectations that a recent spike in gasoline prices could undermine demand in the U.S.

Small Business Optimism Steady

U.S. small businesses continued to display optimism about the economy in August, increasing capital spending and hiring more employees, a survey released on Tuesday showed.

Monday, September 12

CEO Voicing Caution Despite Iris's Urinalysis Breakthrough

Iris International Inc. has been turning heads at medical laboratories and on Wall Street with a cheaper, labor-saving desktop system that can pay for itself in two years.

Job Posting

People across L.A. tell us how they do what they do.

Update: Power Outage Darkens L.A.

A major power outage swept through L.A. Monday afternoon, trapping people in elevators during the lunch hour, snarling traffic and prompting the Los Angeles Police Department to go into tactical alert.

Countrywide Says Katrina Losses Above $70 Million

Countrywide Financial Corp. on Monday warned that its losses from Hurricane Katrina will likely exceed the $70 million in hurricane losses it reported last year.

Busy Ports Drive Leasing Deals

It's been a busy summer for commercial real estate brokers near the ports, thanks to at least nine major deals for warehouse and distribution facilities.

Fancy Up

Embellishments are fueling companies that sell apparel manufacturers everything from feathers to tassels to ribbons.

Payroll Numbers Stagnant as Self-Employed Bolster Growth

Nearly one in 10 workers in Los Angeles County are considered self-employed, according to new estimates.

Newsmakers

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

Locals Put Work on Hold, Head South to Lend Hand in Relief

Some Los Angeles professionals didn't want to wait for organized relief efforts. They were Louisiana-bound soon after the floodwaters swamped New Orleans.

Coudert's Demise Shaping Up as Sheppard Mullin's Gain

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP may be a big beneficiary behind the recent dissolution of Coudert Brothers LLP, whose managing partner in Los Angeles just joined the firm.

L.A. Gas Prices Dip Under $3-Mark

The price of an average gallon of self-serve regular in the Los Angeles area retreated from record highs above the $3-mark, slipping 2.9 cents to $2.975 for the week ended Sept. 12.

Oracle to Purchase Siebel

Oracle Corp. is buying rival Siebel Systems Inc. for about $5.85 billion, continuing a shopping spree that has eliminated two of its competitors in nine months.

Stuff

Inventive, new products from Los Angeles-area companies.

Weak Link?

Supplies remained ample throughout L.A. last week, stabilizing already high pump prices throughout region. But another problem might be looming: a shortage of storage capacity.

Argument Over Housing Funds Could Delay Downtown Project

A dispute over affordable housing funds tied to the Staples Center hotel and entertainment development is threatening to delay work on the project

Katrina's L.A. Impact Will Be Muted

Much of the Los Angeles economy is holding up and even primed to benefit from the Gulf Coast disaster, although higher prices for fuel and raw materials remain the wild cards.

Crowds Ease at LAX

The number of domestic passengers landing at LAX fell this season, while those landing at Ontario, Long Beach and Burbank increased.

Chinese Quota Welcomed or Seen as Too Little, Too Late

When the Bush administration said it would limit certain Chinese imports, Ben Mirfakhraei, general manager of Compton-based Cyrus, welcomed the relief.

Skateboard Executive Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud

The former president and CEO of a skateboard manufacturer pleaded guilty Monday to one count of securities fraud related to fabrications he made about merger talks with Vans Inc.

Medicine Man

Robert Margolis explains the importance of computer tracking in HealthCare Partners Medical Group's improvement of patient care.

KCET Faces Interference Case as KTTV Settles Its FCC Issue

Signal interference issues for KTTV (Channel 11) could be reaching a resolution.

Perfect Fit

When Lidia Gorko and her husband bought their company almost 20 years ago, it was facing a downturn. Since then, new approaches have kept it vital.

High Diesel Hurts at the Pump but Truckers Differ How Much

High gas prices may be putting some truckers out of business or have industry changes allowed the drivers to pass costs on to their customers?

eBay Paying Nearly $4 Billion for Skype

eBay agreed to buy Internet start-up Skype for up to $4.1 billion in cash and shares, in a move to tap new sources of growth and add free Web telephone calls to its online auctions.

L.A.'s Housing Market Surges, Ignores Gloom

L.A. homebuyers in August shrugged off increasingly dire warnings of an overheated housing market, driving prices higher while stepping up the pace of purchases.

Busy Ports Drive Leasing Deals as Companies Snag Warehouse Space

It's been a busy summer for commercial real estate brokers near the ports, thanks to at least nine major deals for warehouse and distribution facilities.

Not Enough Room at the Newsstand?

A wave of new magazines has burst on the L.A. scene, each vying for upscale readers and up-market advertisers. How many is too many?

Gas Cards Offered for Local Reviews Posted on Insider Pages Inc.

Local-search company Insider Pages Inc. wants to use high gasoline prices as an incentive to get Web users to write reviews of local businesses.

Oil Prices Dip on Storm Relief Efforts

Oil prices dropped Monday, led by falling gasoline futures as Hurricane Katrina relief efforts gained momentum and traders expected the high cost of gas to hamper demand.

Extensions for Retrofit Requirements Leave Hospitals Vulnerable to Quakes

Just how would L.A. hospitals fare if they were hit with an earthquake that caused the kind of devastation that overwhelmed hospitals in New Orleans?

'Troll' Time

Newport Beach-based Acacia Research Corp. has filed dozens of lawsuits alleging infringements, most recently turning its attention to Hollywood and technology firms.

Legacy Plans Condos Behind Landmark Wilshire Building

The Desmond's building, a Miracle Mile landmark, is being purchased by a developer who wants to include the Art Deco property in a high-end condominium project.

Business Briefs: Gemstar-TV Guide, OSI Systems, Activision, Wedbush Capital Partners

KPMG LLP settles a class-action lawsuit brought by shareholders of Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., OSI Systems Inc. reports fourth quarter results, and other briefs about Los Angeles companies.

Northrop Opens Gulf Coast Shipyards

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Pascagoula, Miss., and New Orleans shipyards opened their offices again on Monday as thousands of employees returned to work after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Wachovia to Buy Westcorp, WFS

Wachovia Corp. on Monday said it would buy Irvine-based Westcorp Inc. and WFS Financial Inc. for nearly $4 billion to expand its auto lending business.

Amid the Tragedy, Threads of Hope

A first-person account by Business Journal Publisher Matt Toledo of his experiences as a volunteer in flood-ravaged Louisiana.

Stocks Mixed on Acquisitions

Stocks ended mixed Monday, as acquisitions lifted the technology sector and energy prices extended their declines. Gains were limited by airline woes and worries about interest rates.

Demolition Day Nears for Unpermitted Racks

News racks that are not in compliance with a new ordinance will face removal under an enforcement program that begins this month.

The Lasting Tragedy Is Our Short Attention Span

The decades-long determination by Washington that upgrading the city's system of levees and canals wasn't important enough to provide the needed money is why New Orleans was wiped out.

Ford to Sell Hertz for $5.6 Billion

Ford Motor Co. said on Monday it has agreed to sell its auto rental subsidiary, Hertz Corp., to a group of private equity firms for $5.6 billion.

L.A. Needs Parking, Parking, Parking for Millions of Those Cars, Cars, Cars

L.A. is undergoing a boom in construction of new parking lots. A leading example is Topanga Plaza, which is building three structures to add more than 3,000 spaces.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Friday, September 9

Snow Sees Brief Katrina Hit to GDP

Treasury Secretary John Snow said Friday that U.S. economic growth would dip by closer to 1/2 percentage point in the second half of the year because of Katrina.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Disney Mulling Shanghai Theme Park

Walt Disney Co. may open a theme park in Shanghai after 2010, President Robert Iger said while in Hong Kong to raise the curtain on the Burbank-based entertainment giant's new park there.

Stocks Rise on Cooling Oil Prices

Stocks rose Friday to finish the week higher as oil prices cooled and investors embraced signs the economy could move forward despite Hurricane Katrina's devastation.

Continental Sees Savings for 2005

Continental Airlines Inc. expects to save about $300 million in 2005 from pay and benefit reductions achieved for most work groups, the air carrier said Friday.

Crowds Ease at LAX

The number of domestic passengers landing at LAX fell this season, while those landing at Ontario, Long Beach and Burbank increased.

Import Prices Rise in August

Import prices rose by a larger-than-expected 1.3 percent in August, Labor Department data showed on Friday, as petroleum prices leapt again.

Business Briefs: Blue Holdings, Diodes, Earl Scheib, Virco Manufacturing

Blue Holdings Inc. licenses its Antik Denim brand to Titan Industries Inc., Diodes Inc. revises its third-quarter revenue forecast, and other briefs about Los Angeles companies.

Confidence Drops in September

Consumer confidence tumbled in early September as Hurricane Katrina made people feel anxious about the economy's prospects and their own in the months ahead, according to figures released Friday.

L.A.'s Housing Market Surges

L.A. homebuyers in August shrugged off dire warnings of an overheated housing market, driving prices higher. The median price of an existing single-family home in L.A. County in August was $520,000.

Access Agrees to Buy PalmSource

Japanese software company Access Co. said Friday it has agreed to buy PalmSource Inc., maker of the Palm operating system, for $324 million in cash.

L.A. Gas Prices Peak, Begin Slipping

Gas prices in L.A. stopped setting new daily records earlier in the week, but won't sharply decrease soon as the effects of Hurricane Katrina are felt nationwide, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Oil Prices Surge Above $65

Crude oil prices rose above $65 a barrel Friday after the Department of Energy said energy costs this winter in the U.S. would be the highest in 10 years.

Thursday, September 8

Stocks Slip on Crude Gain

Stocks finished lower on Thursday after two days of gains as crude futures edged higher for the first time in four sessions, raising investors' anxieties about interest rates in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

News Corp. to Buy IGN Entertainment

News Corp. said on Thursday it would acquire IGN Entertainment Inc. for about $650 million as it expands into online entertainment and media platforms.

Katrina-Related Jobless Claims Filed

Nearly 10,000 workers who lost their jobs because of Hurricane Katrina filed for unemployment benefits last week, the first wave of thousands of displaced workers seeking benefits.

Home Affordability in L.A. Dips in July

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

Guidelines for New Broadband Proposed

The California Public Utilities Commission proposed guidelines for a broadband over power line program in California. The service is being tested in 26 other states, but not yet in California.

Disney Plaintiffs Appeal Ovitz Decision

Attorneys representing Walt Disney Co. stockholders are appealing a ruling that Disney board members didn't violate their duties or waste company resources in the hiring and firing of Michael Ovitz.

eBay Reportedly in Talks to Buy Skype

eBay Inc. is in talks to buy Internet-telephone company Skype Technologies SA for $2 billion to $3 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Business Briefs: Big 5, Warner Bros., UTI Worldwide, Ultimate Chopper

Nasdaq continues listing Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp.'s stock since the company filed its annual report, Warner Bros. names a president to its new TV division, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Schwarzenegger Seeking Re-Election

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to announce next week that he will run for re-election, Washington, D.C.-based RollCall.com reported.

UCLA Anderson School Picks New Dean

After a long search, Judy Olian, head of the Smeal College of Business Administration at Pennsylvania State University, was named the next dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Oil Rises Ahead of Inventory Report

Oil prices rose on Thursday as markets awaited the release of data expected to show that petroleum inventories shrank due to Katrina's direct hit on facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Sears Replaces Its CEO

Sears Holdings Corp. on Thursday reported a 4.5 percent rise in quarterly profit as it cut back on clearance sales, and said it would replace its CEO on Sept. 30.

Bell Industries Rejects Buyout Offer

Bell Industries Inc. on Thursday said it rejected an unsolicited takeover bid from Zeff Capital Partners LLC to buy the El Segundo-based provider of computer support services.

Wednesday, September 7

Northrop, EADS to Team on Tanker Bid

Northrop Grumman Corp. said on Wednesday it will team up with EADS in a bid to win the multibillion-dollar contract to build a new refueling tanker fleet for the U.S. Air Force.

L.A. Seeking Third Summer Games

Los Angeles on Wednesday notified the U.S. Olympic Committee that it will seek to host the Olympic Games for the third time in 2016.

Productivity Growth Slows

Growth in Americans' productivity slowed in the spring while labor costs edged up, developments that raise concerns about inflation pressures down the road.

UCLA Chancellor to Step Down

UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale said Wednesday he plans to step down as chancellor next June to return to teaching and public policy issues.

Katrina Could Cost 400,000 Jobs

Hurricane Katrina could cost nearly 400,000 jobs and slash economic growth by up to 1 percentage point, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

Albertson's Quarterly Profit Climbs

Albertson's Inc. said Wednesday its second-quarter earnings edged up 3 percent from last year, but the results failed to meet Wall Street's expectations.

Business Briefs: Disney, Gemstar, Internet Brands, Crown Media Holdings, IndyMac, Korn/Ferry, Cherokee

Pixar's Steve Jobs hints at a distribution agreement with Disney, the SEC gets the OK to proceed with a fraud lawsuit against two former Gemstar-TV Guide executives, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Oil Prices Cool as Recovery Continues

Crude oil prices cooled Wednesday as the production recovery proceeded in the Gulf Coast, but unleaded gasoline prices rose and traders watched another storm brewing off Florida.

Store Sales Mixed Post-Katrina

U.S. chain store sales were mixed last week in an early sign of how Hurricane Katrina may have held back the economy, data showed on Wednesday.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Capital One to Pay $5 Billion for Hibernia

Capital One Financial Corp. said Wednesday it renegotiated its purchase price for Hibernia Corp. in light of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and will now acquire the company for $5 billion in stock and cash.

Hurricane Cuts Zenith Profits as Company Exits Reinsurance

Zenith National Insurance Corp. said Wednesday third-quarter losses due to Hurricane Katrina will likely reach $21 million, or 85 cents a share, after taxes.

FDA Lifts Ban on Diagnostic Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has lifted its ban on reviewing new product applications from Diagnostic Products Corp., the Los Angeles company announced Wednesday.

Stocks Up as Oil Falls

A drop in crude oil prices to a three-week low sent stocks higher for the second day on Wednesday, helped along by an upbeat assessment on the recovery of the Gulf region devastated by Katrina.

Tuesday, September 6

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Oil Prices Fall

The recovery of some Gulf Coast petroleum operations disrupted by Hurricane Katrina sent oil futures lower on Tuesday, and analysts predicted that pump prices would decline slightly.

Business Briefs: Entravision, Cathay General, Pacific Energy Partners, Northrop, North American Scientific, Napster, AECOM

Entravision Communications Corp. intends to refinance its $400 million senior secured credit facility with one worth $650 million, Cathay General Bancorp is buying 41 percent of Great Eastern Bank's shares, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Stocks Gain as Oil Prices Tumble

Stocks closed at three-week highs Tuesday on falling crude oil prices and an economic report showing strong growth in the nation's services sector.

Wal-Mart Maintains Forecast

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Tuesday maintained its September sales forecast and said 18 of its locations remained closed in areas hit by Hurricane Katrina.

L.A. Gas Prices Top $3 per Gallon

The average gallon of self-serve regular in the L.A. area soared 23.2 cents to $3.004 for the week ended Sept. 5 after Gulf Coast petroleum operations were disrupted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Holiday Retail Sales Could Be Strong, Analysts Say

Will the catastrophic flooding of the Gulf Coast and soaring gas prices lead to a poor holiday season? Some L.A. retailers and analysts remain cautiously optimistic.

Gas Prices Slow Holiday Travel

Labor Day traffic slowed around the country as drivers paid over 30 percent more for gas than before Hurricane Katrina disrupted Gulf Coast refineries and pipelines.

Economy's Service Sector Grows

Business activity in the non-manufacturing sector of the nation's economy expanded in August, according to a survey of business managers.

Disney, EMI Sign Licensing Deal

Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Music Group said Tuesday it signed a licensing deal with EMI Music for the U.K., Continental Europe, South Africa and the Middle East.

Monday, September 5

Risky Business

Risk specialist Mark Schannon explains why drug company officials don't react well in the face of bad news.

Countrywide Faces Suit Over Property Taxes, Late Charges

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against Countrywide Home Loans Inc. for charging excessive fees against its customers.

Weak Dollar Sends More Goods Out of U.S. Through Local Ports

The ports of L.A. and Long Beach have seen exports take off, thanks to a weak dollar, heavy demand for goods in Asia and super-sized container ships.

Mass Appeal

Markwins is seeking to entice a wider group of ethnic customers to its lip gloss, lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow and foundation.

That Glow

Sonya Dakar started her skin care enterprise at home. Now she's ready to open up shops in Beverly Hills and Manhattan.

Switch to Color Systems Lifts Peerless Shares from Doldrums

After years of struggle, Peerless Systems Corp. is finally edging its way out of penny stock territory with a 317 percent jump in its share price.

City Accused of Undervaluing Amount of Hotel Bed Tax Break

The proposal for a Convention Center hotel has its critics claiming city officials are using creative accounting to pencil out the project.

Stuff

A look at inventive, new products from Los Angeles-area companies.

Drugmakers Under Fire

Pharmaceutical companies now face a fight on two fronts: The Vioxx verdict means increased concern over safety, while government officials and consumers continue expressing concerns over price-gouging.

Western Route?

Officials at local ports aren't expecting extra cargo to be sent here as result of the hurricane damage on the Gulf Coast.

California Market Bets on Mixing Fashion, Home Products

Robert Sotomayor, the California Market Center's director of gift and home leasing, is betting the apparel mart's concentration of fashion wholesalers can lure new gift and home tenants.

Lower Portable Prices Mean Gateway Faces a Challenging Future

The computer business is brutal ask Gateway Inc. The road for the Irvine-based PC maker could be tough in the short term.

Vioxx Lawyers to Carry Heavy Caseloads

As Merck vows to fight each of the 5,000 lawsuits involving Vioxx, local lawyers and judges face an increasing caseload.

Banks Agree to Settle Battle of Cathays After Questions Over Choice of Name

In this corner, it's Cathay Bank, and in this corner it's Cathay United Bank. The fight over the names was settled for undisclosed terms.

CNN Signals Its Plan to Move From Hollywood

The 24-hour news cable channel plans on moving its Los Angeles bureau from a Hollywood tower to new quarters on Wilshire.

Heeding the Call

The folks at Ninja are betting that cell phones will become lifestyle devices.

Strip Search

Norman Zada of Perfect 10 is taking on Google over the availability of his skin mag's copyright images via the search engine.

KTLA Executive Is a Man of Many Meetings

People across L.A. tell us how they do what they do.

Investors Bank on Easy Money as New Lenders Open in L.A.

Fifteen financial institutions are expected to open their doors this fall in Southern California.

Transmission System Vulnerable If Hit by Even Slightest Problem

The state's transmission grid is so stretched that even a slight glitch could set off rolling blackouts in L.A.

Ho-Hum Back-to-School Sales Point to Premium Denim Overload

Manufacturers are creating a market glut that resulted in price-cutting for the back-to-school season.

Radio Gets Some Mileage With Added Automotive Advertising

Car advertisements are fueling an uptick in local radio revenues, compensating for shakiness in other categories, according to a new study.

Big Projects Change the Face of L.A.

An array of mega-projects from Century City to downtown, back to Malibu and the Valley are transforming the region's mass transit lines and its skyline.

Amgen Finds It's a New World After Vioxx Deaths and Verdict

The Thousand Oaks biotech giant finds itself in a new world in light of the jury verdict against Merck.

One Day, 13 Campuses

About 13,000 students are showing up at new campuses this week as the result of the Los Angeles Unified School District's $15.2 billion capital improvement initiative.

Jamison Holds Flight Pattern With Airport Center Purchase

Jamison Properties Inc. is buying three office buildings in the Airport Center complex near Los Angeles International Airport for about $71 million.

Newsmakers

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

Storms, War, Oil? Santa Doesn't Care

Will the catastrophic flooding of the Gulf Coast and soaring gas prices lead to a poor holiday season? Some L.A. retailers and analysts remain cautiously optimistic.

Trades Take Star Search to Hollywood

The Hollywood Reporter wants a star on the Walk of Fame, and Variety wants one, too. They can't both be first.

West Coast Drivers Catch a Break, but Only Compared to Other Areas

Filling up in California looks like a relative bargain, at least for now.

Downtown's Renewal Testing 'Containment' of Homeless Problem

The "policy of containment" that has kept L.A.'s homeless problem downtown will be tested as more condo buyers move into the area.

Friday, September 2

Lost Gas Output 10 Percent of Daily Use

The U.S. has lost production of about 42 million gallons of gasoline a day because Hurricane Katrina shut down oil refineries and forced others to reduce runs.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Insurance to Cover Hilton's Katrina Losses

Hilton Hotels Corp. said on Friday that damage to its hotels and business lost due to Hurricane Katrina will be covered by insurance, but it will be some time before the money is collected.

Stocks Down Amid Hurricane Woes

Wall Street finished the week lower Friday as investors, restrained by uncertainty about the economic impact of Hurricane Katrina, had little reaction to a decline in oil prices and less unemployment.

Gas, Oil Fall More Than $1

Crude oil prices dropped more than $1 a barrel and gasoline futures fell sharply Friday as key allies discussed releasing supplies from their stockpiles to help offset U.S. shortages.

Banks Agree to Settle Battle of Cathays

In this corner, it's Cathay Bank, and in this corner it's Cathay United Bank. The fight over the names was settled for undisclosed terms.

Hotel Occupancy in L.A. Edges Higher

Hotel occupancy and room rates in L.A. County rose in July from a year earlier, reflecting continued gains in the area's tourism business, according to data released Friday.

L.A. Gas Prices Rise After Hurricane

The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina pushed gas prices throughout Southern California to record highs on Friday, said the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Albertson's Considers Sale of Company

Albertson's Inc. said Friday it was mulling putting itself up for sale as the supermarket chain contends with sales that have lagged many of its rivals.

Europe to Send U.S. Emergency Oil

Europe will dip into its emergency stocks of gasoline to help the U.S. through an energy crisis that began when Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf coast.

August Job Growth Solid

Employers created 169,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to 4.9 percent, its lowest since August 2001.

West Coast Drivers Catch a Break, But Only Compared to Other Areas

As pump prices suddenly skyrocketed in the South, Midwest and East late last week, California prices rose at a slower rate, leading analysts to conclude that the gas crunch could be localized, at least for now.

Thursday, September 1

Novartis Offers to Buy Up Chiron

Novartis AG offered $4.5 billion for the shares of Chiron Corp. it doesn't already own, in a bid to take the Swiss group firmly into the vaccines business.

Factories Lose Momentum in August

Manufacturing lost some momentum in August, with slowing in employment growth and new orders, according to a survey published on Thursday.

Business Briefs: Guess, Disney, Computer Sciences, Prospect Medical Holdings, Global ePoint

Guess says its August comparable-store sales rose, Disney recalls children's sunglasses sold via its themeparks and cruise line because the paint on them contains high levels of lead, and other briefs about L.A. companies.

Oil Prices Stay Near $69

Oil held strong near $69 a barrel on Thursday as the U.S. scrambled to replace fuel supplies lost when Hurricane Katrina slammed into Gulf of Mexico rigs and refineries.

Schwarzenegger's Air Board Chair Rejected

The state Senate on Thursday rejected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pick to head the state Air Resources Board, despite a lobbying blitz from statewide business groups on her behalf.

Big 5 Misses Another Filing Deadline

Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. has once again missed a deadline to file its 2004 fiscal year financial statement, and risks being delisted by the Nasdaq.

Retailers Post Strong August Sales

Consumers persevered at stores and malls in August, shopping despite soaring gas prices and giving many of the nation's biggest retailers solid sales.

Morning Headlines

An overview of today's top business stories.

Stocks Mixed on Data, Hurricane Damage

Stocks ended the session mixed on Thursday after investors weighed reports of robust consumer spending along with slowing manufacturing momentum and news about the damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Kerkorian's Tracinda Raises GM Stake

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. is increasing its stake in General Motors Corp. to 9.53 percent, according to a Thursday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Consumers Fuel July Spending Boom

Consumer spending rose 1 percent in July, outstripping a weaker-than-expected income gain and sending the personal saving rate into negative territory, a government report said Thursday.