Stories for October 2007

Wednesday, October 31

CSC Buys First Consulting for $365 Million

Computer Sciences Corp. has agreed to buy Long Beach-based health care consulting and information technology company First Consulting Group Inc. for $365 million.

Daily Briefs

National Lampoon's interim CFO quits.

Sony Pondering Sale of Movie Units

Sony Pictures Entertainment is considering selling half of its fledgling animation studio, maker of the films "Surf's Up" and "Open Season," and even more of its thriving 15-year-old digital visual-effects company.

Ryland Facing 'Junk' Rating

Moody's Investors Service may cut its credit rating on Ryland Group Inc. into junk territory, citing concerns about the home builders' ability to cut inventory and generate positive cash flow, the rating agency said Monday.

Game Makers Rise Ahead of Earnings

Shares in Activision Inc. and THQ Inc. gained Wednesday as Wall Street analysts projected strong holiday sales and future earnings for the local videogame makers.

Disney Supplier Accused of Labor Abuse

Hundreds of people are making stuffed Walt Disney toys at a factory in southern China up to 16 hours a day with only a few days off a month, a Hong Kong-based labor activist group said Wednesday.

Fremont, Ford Talks Officially Scuttled

Fremont General Corp. has broken off talks with a group led by Texas billionaire Gerald J. Ford that had planned to make an $80 million investment in the company.

Writers, Studios Inch Forward

With a strike deadline looming, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the major Hollywood studios made limited headway in contract talks Tuesday as they met for the first time with a federal mediator.

Pension Fund Sues Countrywide Officers

The chief executive of Countrywide Financial, Angelo R. Mozilo, has been sued by a pension fund that accused the company of helping executives pocket improper gains by artificially inflating its stock price through share buybacks.

Tuesday, October 30

PC Mall Reports Record Q3 Sales

PC Mall Inc. reported a 56 percent surge in third-quarter profit Tuesday due to record sales volume, the company said.

DreamWorks Profit up on 'Shrek' Sales

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. said Tuesday afternoon that third-quarter profit nearly quadrupled thanks to strong sales of the studio's wildly successful "Shrek the Third," animated feature.

Countrywide's Forecast Gets a Look

Countrywide Financial Corp. cheered investors last week by pledging a quick return to profitability, boosting the stock price that day 32%, but some analysts are leery.

Former Countrywide Exec Settles 'Insider' Suit

A former executive at Countrywide Financial Corp. was charged Monday with insider trading after he sold stock three years ago just prior to the company reporting negative earning results, regulators said.

Teamsters Support WGA Picket Lines

The Teamsters union -- representing more than 4,000 Hollywood drivers, location managers and scouts, casting directors and animal wranglers -- is giving the WGA's strike plans a major boost with a show of solidarity that could seriously disrupt local prod

Applebee's Shareholders OK Ihop Deal

Shareholders of Applebee's International Inc. approved the $1.9 billion acquisition offer from Ihop Corp. Tuesday.

KB, Others Pay $1.4 Million in Settlement

Pulte Homes Inc. and KB Home are among six home builders that agreed to pay a total of $1.4 million to settle federal investigations into whether they accepted rebates from insurers for referrals when selling homes.

Fed. Agency Opposes Truck Plan

The U.S. Maritime Administration has become the latest entity to formally oppose the controversial and long-delayed program to reduce truck pollution at local ports.

Shares in CBRE Sink on Q3 Report

Shares in CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. tanked Tuesday after the world's largest real estate broker said late Monday that its third-quarter profit rose 25 percent, but still missed Wall Street's expectations.

San Diego Firm Betting on Lenders

A San Diego investment firm was a big buyer of Countrywide Financial Corp.'s shares in the third quarter, when many other investors were bailing out.

KB, Ryland Settle Kickback Probes

KB Home, Ryland Group Inc. and four other home builders agreed to pay a total of $1.4 million to settle federal investigations into whether they accepted rebates from insurers for referrals when selling homes.

Monday, October 29

Maguire Remains Leveraged Even After Slashing Portfolio

Maguire Properties Inc. (NYSE: MPG)

Port Delays Vote on Truck Ban

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners postponed a vote Monday on setting a timeline to implement a controversial plan to replace the ports' oldest and most-polluting trucks.

MannKind Getting Shorter of Breath

MannKind was hoping for success with its inhalable insulin now that Pfizer killed its competing product. But the situation may have gotten worse for MannKind.

Mozilo Calls for Government Reform

Countrywide Financial Corp. is forming a housing and mortgage industry coalition that will try to spur government reform of the residential lending business to ease the current credit crunch.

Exporters Going Strong Thanks to Weak Dollar

L.A. Exporters are going strong as the declining value of the U.S. dollar has made American goods more competitive abroad.

Mozart Makes His Final Bow As Station Moves to All Talk

Saul Levine's KMZT-AM (1260) is turning off the Mozart and going all talk this week.

Harbor Panel to Vote on Plan to Cut Pollution

The harbor commissioners are set to vote on the first phase of their controversial plan to clean up truck pollution.

Closure of Multiplex Prompts Sale of Glendale Exchange

Mann Theatres has decided to close its multiplex at the Glendale Exchange.

Underground Economy Causes Significant Harm in California

Robert A. Jones writes that companies violating labor laws and exploiting workers are a drain on the economy.

Malpractice Insurer Shareholder Bristles at Proposed Sale

Joseph Stilwell resigned from the board of malpractice insurer SCPIE Holdings Inc. and is working to prevent the company's sale to a competitor.

Schwarzenegger Authorizes Regulations on Business

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected all of the high-priority "job-killer" bills singled out by business as being especially onerous.

Geosemble Combines Satellite Views With Data Resources

El Segundo-based Geosemble Technologies Inc.

Philanthropy Summit Highlights Problems in L.A.

William Gates Sr., the father of Microsoft founder Bill, discussed L.A.'s challenges at a philanthropy summit sponsored by United Way

Home Sales to `Stay Tough,' Mezger Says

California's housing market, suffering from a slump in single-family home and condominium sales, will ``stay tough for quite some time,'' KB Home Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Mezger said.

Reports of L.A. Real Estate's Demise May Not Be Accurate

Ignore the hype and don't rush to sell your home just because media types say there is a real estate meltdown, according to Grant Cardone.

Team Players

When e-mails just aren't efficient enough, Central Desktop provides teams of employees with a Web-based forum for

Too Much of a Good Thing in Century City

Since it opened in July, Craft has hosted a cavalcade of VIPs.

Company Helps Target Ads for Chain Store Consumers

IQ Plus, a new software program that matches a database of 40,000 store locations with a city-specific database of media options, enabling advertisers to make logical decisions about where to spend their marketing dollars.

Regional Report

Business news from L.A. County and beyond.

Burning Midnight Oil

The Southern California wildfires are keeping adjusters with state's largest home insurance companies working 14-hour days as damage claims pour in.

Hulu Readies Online TV

Today, Hulu.com, now an independent company with more than a hundred employees and its own offices in Los Angeles, will begin privately testing its free Internet TV service.

Law Firms, Banks Give Downtown Its High-Wage Title

Downtown's Financial District has the county's highest annual average income, supplanting Beverly Hills 90212 as the richest ZIP code.

What's Cookin'?

Infomercial pioneer and entrepreneur Ron Popeil plans to call it quits next year after he unveils the turkey fryer, which he says will be the final invention of his career.

Alzheimer's Challenge

Alzheimer's disease is a looming threat for businesses as the baby boomer

Brothers' Keepers

Hollywood-based Sober Champion is giving substance abusers a new way to stay clean.

AdStar's Strategy Change May Produce Results or De-Listing

AdStar Inc.'s stock is struggling as the company transitions into the ad distribution model.

Blackstone Raids Rival for Hilton CEO

Blackstone Group LP announced today that it has lured Christopher Nassetta, the chief executive of a lodging-industry rival, to lead recently acquired Hilton Hotels Corp.

Students Could Score Goal in Designing World Cup Outfits

Nike Inc. is working with 15 students at the Otis College of Art and Design to create a number of apparel designs that could be used for the Nike-sponsored Brazil soccer team.

Converging Forces Punch Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster has long been the king of its sector, but developments on several fronts are threatening to break the company's stranglehold on the industry.

Newsmakers/Kudos

Hirings, promotions and kudos.

Harbor Commissioners Approve 'Cold-Ironing' Project

The Port of Los Angeles is pushing ahead with a portion of its clean air program that aims to reduce diesel emissions from ships docked at the port.

Downtown L.A.'s Booming Office Market

Even as the trendy loft and condo market cools a bit in downtown Los Angeles, the glass-and-steel skyscrapers are filling up and street life is picking up after dark.

Asia Major

Even as local garment manufacturing stagnates, the Korean apparel market in L.A. has grown into a thriving, $5 billion industry.

Fink a Good Fit for Merrill Lynch

Speculation is circling that Laurence Fink is the favorite to replace Stan O'Neal, who is likely on the way out at the venerable brokerage firm Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

Northrop to Bid for Coast Guard Contract

Northrop Grumman Corp., said Monday that it plans to lead a team that will compete to design a digital communication system for the Coast Guard.

Judge Nixes Grocery Retention Law

Local grocery chains cheered a tentative court ruling issued late Thursday overturning the city of L.A.'s grocery worker retention ordinance.

Ducommun Shares Spike After Strong Q3

Shares in Ducommun Inc. surged more than 6 percent Monday after the company reported a 42-percent hike in profit thanks to a jump in sales to commercial airlines.

Friday, October 26

Kerkorian Makes Bid For Tesoro Share

A firm led by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian said Friday it is seeking to boost its stake in Tesoro Corp. to 20 percent by paying a 12 percent premium for some of the oil refiner's shares.

After Big Loss, Countrywide Sees Profits

Countrywide Financial Corp. posted its first loss in 25 years Friday but saw its shares soar more than 17 percent when the lender projected a return to profitability as it cuts costs and regains traction.

Daily Briefs

FirstFed Reports Dip in Q3 Earnings

Top Edison Executive to Retire

Environmentalist-turned-utility executive John E. Bryson will retire in July from the helm of Edison International, the Rosemead company said Thursday.

Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest public companies gained 2.1 percent for the week, but as expected, financial companies and local banks were hit particularly hard by poor earnings and the ongoing credit crisis.

Fremont Seems a Ripe Takeover Target

Just days after struggling Fremont General Corp. adopted a "poison pill" strategy, a Texas-based hedge fund said Friday that it has "engaged" a former senior executive of Countrywide Financial Corp. in an effort to acquire Fremont or auction it off.

Deaton Resigns as Head of DWP

As expected, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power general manager Ron Deaton submitted his resignation Friday, three months after suffering a near-fatal heart ailment.

Studios Bend to Avert Writers Strike

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Thursday offered a modified package of proposals in a bid to keep fractious negotiations alive six days before the expiration of the writers contract.

Thursday, October 25

Polishing Up the Apple in Applebee's

Applebee's, which leads the estimated $70 billion category that also includes Ruby Tuesday and T.G.I. Friday's, is revamping its business approach by trying to appeal to a new generation. And it starts with a sass-talking apple.

Cathay's Q3 Solid, Hints at Slowdown

Regional bank Cathay General Bancorp on Thursday reported an 11 percent hike in third-quarter earnings to $34 million (67 cents per share), beating analysts' predictions of 62 cents, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Financial.

Shipping Law Making Waves Overseas

A U.S. law that will require foreign ports to scan every container they ship stateside looks set to create big winners and losers and force consolidation at ports around the world.

Mattel Issues Another Recall

Mattel Inc. issued another recall Thursday affecting 55,500 Fisher-Price plastic boats because the paint contains too much lead, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a statement on its Web site.

L.A. Home Sales Fall Nearly 40 Percent

Home sales fell 38.4 percent in the Los Angeles area in September, compared with the same period a year ago, and the median home price fell 2.8 percent to $569,390, according to figures released today.

Former HUD Secretary Out at Countrywide

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Wednesday afternoon that Henry Cisneros, a former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, resigned from his position on the company's board of directors.

Applebee's Director to Sue IHOP

An Applebee's International Inc. director plans to ask a Delaware court to award him more money for his shares, on the grounds that IHOP Corp. is paying too little to buy the restaurant chain.

Daily Briefs

Shares in Skechers soar after upgrade.

Amgen Posts 82 Percent Drop in Q3 Profit

Ongoing pressure from federal regulators and slumping drug sales pushed Amgen Inc.'s third-quarter profit down 82 percent, the firm said Wednesday.

Clean Truck Plan to Get Crucial Vote

Port officials have scheduled initial votes for the controversial and long-delayed program that would reduce diesel truck emissions at the ports.

Tribune Reports Slight Dip in Q3 Earnings

The Tribune Co.on Wednesday reported a 7 percent drop in third quarter earnings as the housing slump and lower consumer spending continued to hit the media company's advertising revenue.

VCA Q3 Earnings Strong as Sales Surge

VCA on Thursday reported third-quarter net income of $32 million (38 cents per share), up 19 percent from $27 million (32 cents) from the same period a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations of 37 cents per share.

Wednesday, October 24

Blackstone, Hilton Deal Closed

Private-equity firm Blackstone Group said Wednesday that its $20 billion takeover of hotel operator Hilton Hotels Corp. has been completed.

More Bad News Sends Local Shares Down

Shares in local homebuilders and lenders were rocked Wednesday after data was released showing sales of existing homes plunged to historic lows in September and Merrill Lynch reported greater-than-expected losses from its mortgage investments.

Northrop Reports Solid Q3 Earnings

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. reported a steep increase in third quarter profit driving by sales gains from the company's shipbuilding and information technology units.

Daily Briefs

Jacobs to be added to S & P; 500.

Is AT & T; Kicking the Tires on DirecTV?

AT & T; Inc. has been circling the satellite-television sector for several years, contemplating a bid for one of the two major players. Now, with consolidation in the telephone industry mostly done, AT & T; appears to be getting ready to swoop in.

L.A. Venture Capital Deals Keeps Surging

Venture capitalists continue to invest heavily in Southern California, investing the largest amount in the area since 2001, a report says.

Pasadena Ritz-Carlton to be Sold

The landmark Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena is being sold for $170 million to a Hong Kong real estate investment firm that may drop the name Ritz-Carlton.

Oxy Q3 Profit Up, Boosted by Crude Prices

Occidental Petroleum Corp. reported a 12 percent increase in third quarter earnings thanks mainly to increased production and rising crude oil prices.

Ryland Posts Q3 Loss, Shares Close Up

Ryland Group Inc. reported a third-quarter loss Wednesday as sales fell and tighter lending terms choked out potential buyers from a slumping real estate market.

Hanmi Ups Loss Estimate, Shares Plunge

Shares in Hanmi Financial Corp. plummeted Wednesday after the company said it expects a decline in third-quarter earnings as it increases the amount of money it set aside to cover potentially bad loans for the quarter.

Tuesday, October 23

Ihop Reports Loss, Shares Dip

Ihop Corp. reported a third-quarter loss Tuesday due to expenses associated with its pending acquisition of the Applebee's Inc. restaurant chain, sending shares down nearly 4 percent.

Bankruptcy vs. Foreclosure

With loan defaults rising along with many mortgage payments, fast-growing numbers of homeowners are gambling on bankruptcy filings to stay in their homes.

L.A. County Tops in Factory Jobs

There are 808,000 factory jobs in the five-county Southern California region, making up a bit more than 11% of the region's total employment.

Avery Shares Up on Surprising Earnings

Avery Dennison Corp. surprised investors Tuesday when it reported better-than-expected earnings despite a big dip in profit due to charges related to its acquisition of Paxar and weak domestic demand for its retail products.

Amgen Wins Battle With Roche

Amgen Inc. won a jury verdict that may prevent Roche Holdings AG from selling its version of a competing anemia medicine in the U.S., Amgen said Tuesday.

Foreclosures Soars; Sales Fall

Foreclosures in the Greater San Fernando Valley jumped an annual 571 percent in September as sales sank to the lowest level in 19 years.

Daily Briefs

CSC, Sears Settle Dispute; Image Shareholders Approve Acquisition

Countrywide Helps Out; Mozilo Feels Heat

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Tuesday that it will help many of its borrowers refinance their loans and keep their homes, as more calls for the firing of company's chief executive surfaced.

PFF Shares Hit Low on Q2 Earnings

Shares in PFF Bancorp Inc. plunged more than 17 percent Tuesday after the company reported a greater-than-expected loss due to loan losses during the quarter.

Developer Buys St. Luke Hospital

The shuttered St. Luke Medical Center, a northeast Pasadena landmark, has been sold by the California Institute of Technology to a Beverly Hills developer, the university announced Monday.

Court Tosses Out Hansen Options Suit

Hansen Natural Corp. said in a regulatory filing Tuesday that a court dismissed a federal class-action suit alleging the company illegally backdated stock options issued to senior executives.

Actors' Unions Continue to Spar

An ugly feud between two actors unions burst into the open Monday, with the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists accusing its sister union of breaching a 26-year-old bargaining agreement.

Monday, October 22

Sweep Results in Shutdown of 11 L.A. Garment Companies

More than 70 local garment manufacturers were cited recently by the state for labor code violations, racking up combined fines of more than $600,000.

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY: Industrial Tenants Wary Over Weaker Economy

After several quarters of solid growth, the San Gabriel Valley's industrial market showed signs of weakening last quarter, due in part to concerns over an economic slowdown.

Zenith Reports Dip in Q3 Earnings

Zenith National Insurance Corp. reported an 11 percent dip in third-quarter earnings Monday afternoon due a slip in net premiums earned.

MySpace Co-Creates Scripted Web Show

Emboldened by the success of video series within its pages, MySpace is taking on the ownership role of a television network as it seeks a bigger piece of the action.

Homebuilders Rise Despite Expectations

Despite the expectation of grim reports that are to be released later this week, shares in local homebuilders surged Monday.

The Next Century

A wave of development is renewing Century City, but growing congestion threatens the renaissance.

Sound Man

Chris Gorog of Napster Inc., believes his company's subscription model is the future of the music industry.

A Rich Century of History

Tom Mix sold the site to William Fox, whose namesake studio later sold it off for development. Today's boom is bringing it to build-out.

Newsmakers/Kudos

Promotions, hirings and kudos.

Keeping Competitive Athletes Free of Banned Substances

Deposed Tour de France champion Floyd Landis and Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones are the latest athletes to make headlines and lose awards because of doping scandals.

Unique Planning Process Can 'Trip' Savvy Developers

Projects must account for daily arrivals and departures, or "trips."

Aecom Shares Building Steam

L.A. engineering and consulting company Aecom Technology Corp. is making investors happy thanks to surging infrastructure spending.

Recession More Likely for L.A. Than the Rest of Nation

Esmael Adibi believes a recession is more likely to hit Los Angeles than other parts of the nation.

Hock Shop Makes Millions by Moving to Virtual World

In 1999, David Zinberg took jewelry from a handful of his pawnshops and began auctioning them online. Two years later, despite the dot-com crash, Bidz.com Inc. brought in $1 million.

INLAND EMPIRE: New Warehouses Opening Despite Reduced Activity

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Building Up

International architectural firm NBBJ has grown significantly thanks to a good deal of business from South Korea.

HOLLYWOOD: Area Draws Westsiders in Search of Cheaper Lease Deals

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

PeopleJam Executive Developing Partners in Networking

Jonathan Schreiber, new vice president of business development at PeopleJam

Lakeside Merger Extends Coverage Across Northern L.A.

Latino homebuyers helped fuel L.A.'s housing boom. Now, the downturn is hitting them hard.

SOUTH BAY: Organic Growth, Outside Tenants Tighten Office Market

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Chinese Law Firm Establishes an Outpost in Los Angeles

Chinese law firm Alpha & Leader has set up shop in Los Angeles.

Ship Shortage Pushes Up Prices

The cost of shipping raw materials across the world's oceans has reached an all-time high, pushing up prices of grain, iron ore, coal and other commodities.

Buyers Pounce as Homes Go on Block

In a down real estate market, they came to buy. They came early, they came in numbers and they came with bank checks for $5,000.

TRI-CITIES: Blackstone Sets Pace With Aggressive Pasadena Rent Hikes

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Special Report: Real Estate Quarterly

A wave of development is renewing Century City, but growing congestion threatens the renaissance.

Suits Are Suddenly Hot Item for Retailer

L.A.-based retailer Forever 21 has been hit by a wave of lawsuits for alleged copyright violations.

L.A. County: Credit Crunch Takes Toll Even as Vacancy Rate Drops

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Employees Buy Small World Toys Out of Bankruptcy

A group of former employees is acquiring Culver City-based Small World Toys Inc. out of bankruptcy.

Tubing the Web

No one is making money on Internet TV yet. The basic conundrum remains: how to replicate TV advertising revenues with a less-committed Internet audience.

Broker Jerry Asher Cold Called Century City's Earliest Tenants

Century City veteran Jerry Asher has been working on the area's development since it was nothing but a model on a tabletop.

Concerns Over Abraxis Remain Despite Plans to Undo Merger

Abraxis BioScience Inc. (Nasdaq: ABBI)

DOWNTOWN: Landlords Raise Rents as Demand for Space Accelerates

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Research Facility Could Stimulate Economy

A sprawling marine research facility planned at the port could help economic revitalization in San Pedro.

Taxation Vexation

If the tax rate on a certain kind of investment is hiked, venture capital will be reaching out to L.A. startups less, writes Charles Crumpley.

Local Governments Pay Top Dollar for Legal Services

L.A. City Councilmen Bill Rosendahl and Dennis Zine have called for a study of how much the city has been spending on outside counsel.

WESTSIDE: Lease Deals Slow Amid Historically Low Vacancy Rates

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY: Lender Meltdown Prompts Mass Tenant Exits

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Tightening Credit Cycle Hitting Latino Companies Hard

Latino homebuyers helped fuel L.A.'s housing boom. Now, the downturn is hitting them hard.

Mapping the Future

Seven projects are changing the face of the area.

Jakks Reports Solid Q3 Earnings

After a weekend of uneasiness due to raging wildfires that threatened its Malibu headquarters, toy maker Jakks Pacific Inc. reported strong third-earnings Monday on lower expenses and stronger sales.

MID-CITIES: Industrial Vacancies Fall Despite Signs Ports Are Slowing

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Big 5 Surges On Upgrade

Shares in Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp. gained 3 percent Monday afternoon after a Wachovia Capital Markets analyst raised his profit estimate due to increased sales activity.

Other Funds Must Supplement Borrowing for Infrastructure

Borrowing to address California's infrastructure needs is OK, according to Richard G. Little, but only if it is accompanied by other funding methods, including tax increases.

Disney Shaping up Theme Parks Overseas

Walt Disney Co. said Monday that it will phase out all trans fats over the next two years from food it serves at its theme parks in Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Nobel Prize Winner, A Prizefighter's Life

Jeremy Pal, a civil engineering and environmental science professor at Loyola Marymount University, is among the contributing authors who are sharing the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

VENTURA COUNTY: Brokers Brace for Amgen, Countrywide Fallout

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Businesses Going Without the Flow

As water cutbacks and rate hikes loom in the face of the worst drought in 15 years, some local businesses are taking innovative steps to slow the flow.

Napster, AT & T; Team Up

AT & T; Inc. said Monday that it is making Napster Inc.'s entire music catalog available to its customers for wireless download starting next month.

WILSHIRE: Submarket Still a Bargain Even as Big Landlord Raises Rents

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

SANTA CLARITA: Home Builders Leave Offices, Spiking Vacancy Rate

SUBMARKETS Major events in commercial and industrial real estate across the Los Angeles region and neighboring areas.

Heavy Traffic Has Homeowners Turning Red Over Growth

As Century City develops, homeowners are increasingly angry about traffic issues.

ESPN Teams Up With Nielsen Co. for Audience Count

Disney's sports cable network ESPN last week partnered with Nielsen Co. to measure how consumers use media across a variety of platforms.

Big Directors Turning to Commercials

IN the film world, Michael Mann is well known as a producer and director, with credits that include the new action movie "The Kingdom" as well as "Ali," "The Aviator," "The Insider" and "The Last of the Mohicans."

Sunday, October 21

Southland Wildfires Spread

A wildfire driven by powerful Santa Ana winds on Sunday destroyed at least five Malibu businesses, damaged several at a shopping center, and threatened dozens more.

Friday, October 19

Insurer Delivers Setback to Amgen

This month Aetna Inc., one of the nation's largest insurers, quietly changed its reimbursement guidelines for the company's anemia drugs, echoing Medicare's new tighter reimbursement policy for the medicines.

Hansen Off a Day After Hitting High

Shares of drink maker Hansen Natural Corp. dropped nearly 8 percent Friday after an analyst cut his rating due to a recent run-up in the stock price.

Unemployment Up, Economy Still Strong

L.A. County's unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent in September from 4.9 percent in August as homebuilding woes continue to take their toll on the local workforce.

WGA Talks to Resume on Monday

With the town prepping for a strike in as little as two weeks, the Writers Guild of America's still opting for a go-slow approach to negotiations.

Little Green Lies

The sweet notion that making a company environmentally friendly can be not just cost-effective but profitable is going up in smoke. Meet the man wielding the torch.

Preferred Shares Drop on Downgrade

Shares in Preferred Bank dropped nearly 10 percent and hit a news 52-week low Friday after the company was downgraded by Friedman Billings Ramsey.

Big Movers

The declining housing and credit markets continue to take a toll on the Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the largest 200 public companies, sending the index down 4.5 percent for the week.

Daily Briefs

Live Nation Interested in Signatures Network; Reliance Board Names Chairman.

Tribune Deal Mired in FCC Rift

The $8.2-billion deal to take Tribune Co. private has become entangled in a newly inflamed debate over media ownership rules at the Federal Communications Commission that could pose problems for the transaction.

Buffet Denies Interest in Countrywide

Shares in Countrywide Financial Corp. fell to a 4-year low Friday after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he "never came close" to buying shares in the Calabasas-based lender.

Thursday, October 18

L.A. Port Plans Massive Marine Facility

The Port of Los Angeles is rolling out preliminary plans today to build a massive marine research facility that officials hope will stimulate economic activity and help revitalize the San Pedro community.

East West Posts Solid Q3, Shares Slip

Despite posting strong third quarter earnings, shares in East West Bancorp Inc. were down more than 3 percent Thursday.

Firms Differ on Ihop, Applebee's Deal

Advisory firm Proxy Governance Inc. said Thursday that Applebee's shareholders should vote against the proposed sale of the company to Ihop Corp. for $1.9 billion, while another firm, Glass Lewis & Co., indorsed the deal.

Aecom Buys Canadian Firm

Aecom Technology Corp. said Wednesday that it has acquired Canadian environmental science consulting firm Gartner Lee Limited.

Daily Briefs

Fatburger to open restaurants in United Arab Emirates; Preferred Bank's Chief Credit Officer Resigns; Ryland reduced unsecured revolving credit facility.

WGA Strike Potential Still High

Despite the disappearance of a major roadblock to a deal, the threat of a writers strike remains strong.

MySpace Execs Get Big Paydays

Top MySpace executives Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson have struck rich deals to continue working at the company, which was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. in 2005.

City National Shares Dip on Tepid Q3

Shares in City National Corp. dipped more than 3 percent Thursday after the regional bank company reported a modest increase in third quarter earnings that slightly missed analysts' predictions.

Reliance Q3 Profit Dips, Weak Q4 on Deck

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. reported a 13 percent dip in third quarter profit due to higher costs and weaker prices for metal products.

Abraxis Gets OK to Sell Abraxane In India

Abraxis BioScience Inc. said Thursday it and a marketing partner had received regulatory approval to sell the breast cancer treatment Abraxane in India.

Rents Rise as Home Prices Slip

While homeowners were being stung by shrinking property values, renters across the state found themselves having to dig deeper into their pocketbooks in the third quarter, according to a report to be released today.

Wednesday, October 17

Napster to Move to Web-Based Platform

Napster Inc. said late Tuesday that it planned to attract more customers by moving to a Web-based platform that will allow users to play their music from any computer without requiring additional software.

Fremont Reports Earnings

Shares in Fremont General Corp. plummeted nearly 7 percent Wednesday after the former subprime lender reported a big first-half loss and said it restated its fiscal 2006 earnings.

ESPN, Nielsen Team Up

ESPN and Nielsen Co. announced Wednesday a collaboration to develop a system of audience measurement for television, the Internet, and digital phones.

The L.A. Live Boom Begins

With much of Downtown Los Angeles dark for the night, the Nokia Theatre was anything but last week, as dozens of swiveling searchlights lit up the skyline in anticipation of the venue's Thursday, Oct. 18, opening.

SEC Probes Countrywide Stock Sales

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an informal investigation into stock sales by Countrywide Financial Corp.'s Chief Executive, Angelo Mozilo.

THQ Renews Nintendo Wii Pact

THQ Inc. renewed an agreement with Nintendo of America Inc. to develop and market games for the Wii console within the Western Hemisphere, the videogame developer said in a regulatory filing Wednesday.

$150 Million Charge for Countrywide

Struggling lender Countrywide Financial Corp. expects to book a pretax charge of about $125 million to $150 million from its announced restructuring plan, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Disney Plans $1 Billion Park Makeover

California Adventure is getting a $1.1-billion makeover -- with Walt Disney Co. planning to spend more than it did to build the theme park just six years ago

Live Nation Cited for Labor Violations

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley issued citations against two companies that do business at the Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts in Mansfield for multiple violations of the state's Child Labor Law.

So. Cal. Real Estate Market Plummets

Home sales in Southern California plummeted in September to a two-decade low, and grim market assessments suggested the worst is yet to come.

Skechers to Build Huge Distribution Center

Skechers USA Inc. said Wednesday that it is planning to build a 1.8-million-square-foot distribution center in Moreno Valley.

SEC Investigating Mozilo Stock Sales

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an informal investigation into stock sales by Countrywide Financial Corp.'s chief executive officer, deepening problems at the nation's largest mortgage lender, according to people familiar with the matter

Wescom, Great American Merge

Wescom Credit Union said Wednesday that San Diego-based Great American Credit Union will merge into it.

Tuesday, October 16

Insurer To Go Private In Acquisition

Medical malpractice insurance provider SCPIE Holdings Inc. said it has agreed to be bought by The Doctors Company, a physician-owned competitor, for about $268.8 million.

House of Taylor Obtains Financing

House of Taylor Jewelry Inc. said it has secured a $30 million credit facility through New Stream Capital in a deal that also includes a $5.8 million equity financing.

As Defaults Rise, Washington Worries

Borrowers who took out loans in the first six months of 2007 are falling behind on payments faster than homeowners who took out loans last year, according to a report by investment bank Friedman, Billings, Ramsey.

Pinkberry Expansion Plans Get Boost

A venture capital firm co-founded by the chairman of Starbucks Corp. has purchased a large serving of the Los Angeles sweet-yet-tart-dessert chain Pinkberry Inc. for $27.5 million

ValueClick Downsizes Expectations

Shares of ValueClick took a tumble after the company said sales would be lower than expected for both the third quarter and the full year due to weakness in its online advertising lead generation business.

Nobel Honors Markets Research

The Nobel Prize in economics was awarded to three Americans yesterday, including Leonid Hurwicz, a 90-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, the oldest person ever to win a Nobel.

Monday, October 15

Dueling Dollies

As the holiday shopping season approaches, Kids Give is setting itself apart with pricey, ethnically diverse dolls.

Westside Chronicle Newspaper Closes in Wake of Legal Battle

The weekly Westside Chronicle newspaper has been shuttered as a result of hefty costs incurred in a legal battle.

Marshall School Takes Top Spot for Entrepreneurship

USC is the top graduate school in the nation for entrepreneurs, according to new rankings.

U.S. Auto Parts Names New CEO

U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. said it has replaced its current chief executive and founder Mehran Nia with former Blockbuster Inc. executive Shane Evangelist.

Will Tiny Company's Sky-High Wi-Fi Fly?

Row 44 is flying high after Alaska Airlines agreed to test the company's in-flight wireless Internet system.

Northrop Lands $220 Million IT Deal

Northrop Grumman Corp. said it was awarded a $220 million contract to develop a data management and storage system for the National Security Agency.

Shares in Local Homebuilders Sink

Shares in local homebuilders continued to fall Monday after an industry analyst cut his estimates for builders nationwide, saying the industry needs to consolidate. Shares of KB Home were downgraded.

Weiss Recall Effort Dies

The recall effort against L.A. City Councilman Jack Weiss, triggered by his pro-development record, has fizzled as organizers conceded they did not have enough signatures to put the recall on the ballot.

Regional Report

Busienss news from around Los Angeles County and beyond.

State Working to Increase Permanent Disability Benefits

A state agency has very quietly been laying the groundwork for a smaller increase in permanent disability payouts.

Port to Vote on Clean Trucks

Los Angeles Harbor Commission President David Freeman urged his fellow commissioners on Friday to vote by Dec. 14 on the long-delayed program to reduce diesel truck emissions at the ports.

Study Finds Racial Bias in NY Lending

Home buyers in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods in New York City were more likely to get mortgages last year from a subprime lender than home buyers in white neighborhoods with similar income levels.

Stickam Sticking Out With Mark & Brian Video Stream

In the suddenly crowded space of social networking sites, backers of Stickam.com may have found a way to make it stand out.

Nokia Theatre Ready for Its Close-Up

Workers are still busy at the $120 million Nokia Theatre, just days before it is set to open.

Brokers Shrug Off Peacock's Flight

Don't shed many tears for Burbank. Though NBC Studios may be packing up and leaving its location near "beautiful downtown Burbank" for nearby Universal City, Burbank has the hottest office market in the county and will likely weather the departure of one

'Round Numbers

A well-known economist who worked in the Nixon White House, Sung Won Sohn now is helping Hanmi Bank become a financial powerhouse.

Agents Playing Role Contract Talks

As Hollywood braces for a possible strike next month, talent agents are trying to do what they know best: Match-make.

MySpace Co-Founder Starts a Social Networking Poll Site

Jason Feffer, one of the original team members who launched MySpace four years ago, has started a new social networking site.

Property Rights Protection Act Could Stop Flow of Essential Water Projects

The property rights protection act will impede crucial water projects, writes Timothy Quinn.

Newsmakers

Hirirngs, promotions and kudos.

IHOP to Stop Frying Its Hearty Fare in Unhealthy Fats

IHOP Corp.'s recentently announcement that it would stop using frying oils containing trans-fats by the end of the year.

Innovo Changes Name to Joe's Jeans

The shareholders of Innovo Group Inc. the Commerce-based apparel maker that manufactures Joe's Jeans approved the purchase of the Joe's Jeans brand from its designer, Joe Dahan.

Mattel's Earnings Fall, Shares Off Slightly

Mattel Inc. on Monday reported a slight dip in its third-quarter profit because of the charges, costs and delays on its supply chain related to recalls of toxic toys. The release had little effect on the company's share price.

Strong Holiday Spending Predicted

Strong demand for video game consoles, laptop computers and cellphones will help the consumer electronics industry ring up a 7.4% sales increase in the U.S. this holiday season, an industry trade group predicted today.

Small World

Microfabrica will use patented technology to make miniature devices for the medical sector.

Tropical Touch

First Financial Credit Union is bringing a taste of the tropics to its branch offices with unconventional decor.

Rising From The Ashes

When Amgen refugees start their own biotech companies, it will be evidence of what Charles Crumpley sees as business evolution: good news growing out of bad situations.

Hospitalist Company Seeks Breakthrough with Public Offering

Rapidly-growing IPC is preparing an IPO to further expand its business of managing hospital-based physicians.

Property Rights and 'Blight'

A ballot measure to restrict eminent domain proceedings is essential to protecting property rights in California, according to Jon Coupal.

Gap Out, Gucci In

Beverly Center is ousting its mid-market chain stores and replacing them with luxury boutiques.

Rapidly Rising Westwood Rents Force Firm to Relocate

Another Westside office tenant has decided to leave its space as a result of spiking rents in the area.

Christmas Stalkings And Lean, Mean Fox

As retailers charge into the fourth quarter, the big question looms: What is the must-have gift for this holiday season?

Port Worker Identification Program Faces Months of Delay

Truckers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports got a short reprieve this month from a new government-backed security program that could put some drivers out of the job.

IPO: Could Hospitalist Co. Be Just What the Doctor Ordered?

Financial backers of IPC The Hospitalist Co. are banking that one of the hottest trends in health care staffing is something investors might want to get a piece of.

Hotel Union Authorizes Strike

Workers at five area hotels voted to authorize a strike, their union announced Saturday.

Friday, October 12

Vitesse Settles Options Lawsuits

Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. will pay $8.7 million to settle shareholder lawsuits over the backdating of employee stock options, the company announced Friday.

L.A. Customer Service: A Mixed Bag

Los Angeles customer service bites, or does it? Depends on who you talk to. According to hundreds of secret shoppers who surveyed 10 major U.S. cities, L.A. was outdone only by the rude capital of the world, New York City.

CalAmp Earnings Hit by Lower Sales

Shares in CalAmp Corp. plunged more than 11 percent Friday after the company said it expected to swing to a loss for its fiscal second quarter as sales fell in its satellite division.

Despite Recalls, Mattel's Forecast Bright

Mattel Inc. is forecast by analysts to report third-quarter profit and sales higher than the same period a year ago, despite high-profile toy recalls.

Korn/Ferry Names New CFO

Korn/Ferry International announced Friday that it has hired Stephen Giusto as its new chief financial officer.

Countrywide at the Center of the Storm

The Countrywide Financial Corporation, the nation's largest lender and loan servicer, reported on Thursday that delinquencies and foreclosures in its portfolio were rising steeply.

Ihop Reports Sales Gain, Shares Dip

Ihop Inc. reported a 2 percent jump in third quarter same-store sales Friday that it attributed to successful limited-time offers.

Big Movers

Thanks to merger rumors that continue to circulate, ValueClick Inc. surged 14 percent this week after talk show host Jim Cramer mentioned the company on his TV show, saying the Westlake Village-based Web ad broker was ripe for an acquisition. Shares close

Thursday, October 11

Community Group Backs Port Plan

A community group has launched a grassroots campaign to generate support for a clean-air plan at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that has come under fire from business and trade groups across the nation.

Daily Briefs

THQ to develop American Girl video games.

Lawmakers Prefer Single Contract

A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the Air Force this week not to split up a $40 billion contract for refueling tankers that is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

The United States of Subprime

As America's mortgage markets began unraveling this year, economists seeking explanations pointed to "subprime" mortgages issued to low-income, minority and urban borrowers.

Molina Sells Notes to Pay Down Debt

Molina Healthcare Inc. said it has completed the sale Thursday of $200 million of 3.75 percent convertible senior notes, which included options for underwriters to purchase an additional $25 million in notes.

Judge Blocks Illegal Worker Shakedown

A federal judge in San Francisco on Wednesday blocked the Bush administration's attempt to enlist the nation's employers to banish illegal immigrants from the workplace.

WGA Sets Strike Rules

The WGA clearly wants to send a signal. The guild has formulated strike rules that would impose an exceptionally aggressive stance on its 12,000 members.

Ryland Gains as Fund Doubles Stake

Shares in Ryland Group Inc. gained as much as 7 percent Thursday after Janus Capital Group Inc. doubled its stake in the struggling homebuilder.

Countrywide Lending Down, Probe Sought

Countrywide Financial Corp. reported another month of steep declines in lending, and North Carolina's State Treasurer said he is seeking an SEC investigation into Angelo Mozilo's stock-selling practices.

Northrop IT Contract Draws Scrutiny

A Pentagon audit found that a Northrop Grumman Corp. IT service contract worth as much as $375 million violated federal procurement regulations and should be canceled and re-bid.

KB Home CFO to Retire Next Year

Domenico Cecere is stepping down after five years, saying he is confident of the company's future.

Keystone Exits, Molina Added to Index

Shares in Molina Healthcare Inc. gained 3 percent after the Standard & Poor's SmallCap 600 index said the health care provider will replace Keystone Automotive Industries Inc. on the index on Friday.

Wednesday, October 10

Mattel Hit With Lawsuit

An institutional shareholder of Mattel Inc. accused the company's directors and officers of knowingly allowing the company to break federal laws by delaying the reporting of defective toys.

Keystone Shareholders Approve Takeover

Keystone Automotive Industries Inc. said Wednesday that its shareholders have approved LKQ Corp.'s proposed acquisition of the company for $48 per share in cash.

Fremont Surges on Investment

Shares in Fremont General Corp. got a big boost Wednesday after the lender-turned savings and loan drew a sizable investment from a group led by an investor who saw the subprime slide coming.

Chevron Warns that Earnings Will Take a Hit

Sharply lower profit from making fuel took a big bite out of Chevron Corp.'s third-quarter earnings, which the oil company said Tuesday would be "significantly below" the record $5.4 billion it earned during this year's second quarter.

NBC Plans Studio Relocation

NBC is set to announce Thursday that it will be relocating its longtime Burbank studios to the NBC/Universal property in Universal City by 2011, sources said late Wednesday.

Zell Says L.A. Times not for Sale

Chicago real estate magnate and Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell said Tuesday he had no plans to sell the Los Angeles Times to any of the moguls who previously were interested in buying the newspaper.

Daily Briefs

YouBet plunges after downgrade; Health Net names new CFO; Hot Topic same-store sales decline.

Past Issues Won't Hurt Queen Mary Deal

With all of Southern California's investment opportunities, it may seem surprising that Jeffrey S. Klein has set his sights on the lease to the Queen Mary complex - a property that long has attracted controversy.

Madonna Close to Deal With Live Nation

Pop superstar Madonna is close to leaving Warner Music Group Corp.'s Warner Bros. Records for a virtually unprecedented $120 million deal with concert promotion giant Live Nation Inc.

Writers, Execs Begin 7th Round of Talks

Hollywood screenwriters and studio executives returned to the bargaining table today for their seventh round of face-to-face contract talks since July as strike rhetoric from both sides intensified.

Tuesday, October 9

Universal to Acquire Oxygen Channel

NBC Universal today announced the acquisition of the Oxygen Channel, a cable television network that focuses on women viewers and is led by the longtime cable executive Geraldine Laybourne.

CSC Discloses $1.1 Billon in Contracts

Computer Sciences Corp. said Tuesday that it has signed 123 government contracts worth as much as $1.1 billion for its fiscal second quarter, which ended Sept. 28.

Bain Acquires Guitar Center

Bain Capital Partners LLC completed its $2.1 billion purchase of music instrument retailer Guitar Center on Tuesday, squelching early speculation that the deal might go sour.

Hi-Shear Soars on Q1 Earnings

Shares in Hi-Shear Technologies Inc. closed up 9.5 percent Tuesday after the aerospace company announced surprising first-quarter earnings.

Cramer Boosts Jakks, ValuClick

Shares in two local companies surged Tuesday in what could be an example of the "Jim Cramer Effect." The stocks rose after the influential TV show host mentioned Jakks Pacific Inc. and ValuClick Inc. on his national show on CNBC.

Water Woes: Cuts, Rationing Loom

Amid a growing water crisis across the state, officials warned Monday that they will cut water to Southern California farmers 30 percent by early next year and are drafting plans that could force residential water rationing for the first time in more than

Reading Int. Buys Pacific Theaters

Pacific Theatres Exhibition Corp. has entered into an agreement to sell 15 of its 29 theaters as it divests its operations outside the Los Angeles area, the company announced Tuesday.

RadNet Buys Imaging Firm

RadNet Inc. said Tuesday that it has acquired Liberty Pacific Imaging Center for $2.8 million.

Lions Gate, Televisa May Team Up

Grupo Televisa, Mexico's largest media conglomerate, plans to expand its reach in the U.S. by teaming up with an American studio to make movies and television shows and to distribute its growing film library.

AeroVironment Battery Test Going Well

Monrovia's AeroVironment Inc. said Tuesday that a 60-day trial of an electric car using its battery recharging technology has reached its halfway point.

Monday, October 8

Amgen's Alums Poised to Fuel Boom

HEALTH CARE

Amgen Inc.'s downsizing could lead to a vibrant biotech hub as departing scientists join the job market.

Office Development for Sale in Hot Playa Vista Market

A partnership that includes Maguire Properties Inc. Chief Executive Robert Maguire has put a Playa Vista office development up for sale.

Firing Up the Grill

Philip Gay is using his extensive experience in the food service industry to help Grill Concepts expand its restaurant chains.

Cool Fuel

Colette Brooks and her husband, Eric Cadora, run Biobling, which helps customers find biodiesel-fueled vehicles and then customize them.

Ethnically Diverse Assistants Increasing On Screen and Off

A proliferation of ethnic minorities on television reflects hiring trends in the entertainment industry.

Green the Hot Color At L.A. Fashion Week

L.A. Fashion Week has been known for its blue denim designs, but this year it will have a "green" theme.

The Big Chill

Everest Sciences makes a patented intake system that helps cool air that goes into electricity-producing turbines.

Sports Network Gets Big Boost in Run-Up to Olympics

The Beijing Olympics won't come around until August of next year, but one local firm is already beginning to feel the impact.

Fed Created Conditions That Led to Pressures It Now Addresses

Katy Delay writes that the Federal Reserve is now trying to fix economic problems that it has created over the past few decades.

The State's Unruly Budget Pattern

In 1992 and 1993, Gov. Pete Wilson and lawmakers tried to take nearly $2 billion from public schools to balance the state budget. That didn't work. The state lost a court challenge and had to repay the money, with interest.

Countrywide's Woes Getting Wider

It might take more than a public relations company to burnish Countrywide Financial Corp.'s tarnished image.

Vertical Branding Tries Two Paths to Move Merchandise

Vertical Branding works in two business segments that normally don't go together direct marketing and retail distribution.

Tetra Tech Lands Big Navy Deal

Tetra Tech Inc. said Monday that it received contract for environmental clean-up services at Navy and Marine bases worth $100 million.

Building Her Career Out of Blood, Sweat and Tears

Cindy Whitehead distresses athletes' clothes, puts dirt in the right places, sprays the athletes with water to imitate sweat. And they pay her a lot to do it.

Is This All Going South?

Charles Crumpley believes the local ports need to keep prices competitive or else risk losing jobs and future business to Mexico.

Athletic Program Helps Companies Trim Health Care Costs

Could the answer to lower employer health care costs be found at places like Spectrum Athletic Clubs?

Union Staffing Demands Dim Market for Solar Panels

State initiatives to promote solar power are being weakened by self-interested unions, writes Kevin Dayton.

Big Workers' Comp Savings on Way Out

The era of rapidly falling workers' compensation bills for California employers may be nearing an end, nearly four years after sweeping reforms were enacted.

Web Search Engine Brings TV Clips to Your Fingertips

Pasadena-based Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. launched its own search engine of popular TV clips last week.

Is Raytheon Going Retail With Radar?

Travis Slocumb has an interesting new job: He's selling some high-tech gizmos that Raytheon Co. developed for the U.S. Defense Dept. and space exploration.

Ryland Stock Seen as Bargain After Bust Prompts Long Slide

Ryland Group Inc. (NYSE: RYL)

Company Hopes Contract Will Be a Bridge to Success

Material Technologies Inc., the small Los Angeles company that has developed an innovative bridge inspection device, has secured a contract that could push its technology into widespread use.

L.A. County Home Sales Fall by Nearly Half in September

L.A. County home sales plunged nearly 47 percent in September to their lowest level in at least four years. Prices listed by ZIP code.

CompuMed Wins Corrections Contract

CompuMed Inc. said Monday that it was awarded a contract by the California Department of Corrections to provide remote electrocardiogram services for the state's correctional facilities.

Daily Briefs

Oxy Downgraded; American Reprographics Shares Surge on Upgrade; CalAmp Soar on Upgrade.

Litigation Lawyers Merge With Entertainment Specialists

Beverly Hills law firm Browne Woods & George, announced last week that they would merge.

Newsmakers/Kudos/Donations

Sound Advice

The success of Activision Inc.'s "Guitar Hero" video game points up the growing impact that the industry is making on the music world.

Friday, October 5

Boeing Seeks Star Turn For Old 717 Site

The site of the former Boeing 717 plant could play a bigger role in Hollywood or serve as a temporary haven for recreational vehicles and trailers.

Ameron Buys Brazilian Company

Ameron International Corp. said Friday that is has completed the acquisition of Brazilian fiberglass-pipe manufacturer Polyplaster Ltda. for an undisclosed amount.

Raytheon Layoffs Begin in El Segundo

The first group of employees to be laid off because of a restructured business area at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo saw their last day Wednesday, the company said.

DirecTV's Sales Head Resigns

DirecTV Group Inc. said late Friday that its president of sales, John Suranyi, resigned from the company effective immediately.

Writers, Producers in Serious Talks

Putting the hyperbole on hold, the WGA and its members' employers have gotten down to brass tacks at the bargaining table.

Major Staffing Firm Lands in El Monte

The No. 1 provider of technical and engineering staffing services has found a spot for one of its branches in the San Gabriel Valley.

CBRE Settles Harassment Suit

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. settled a class action lawsuit accusing the firm of tolerating sexual harassment of female employees.

LKQ Will Not Raise Keystone Offer

LKQ Corp. said Friday that it will not raise its $48 per-share offer for Keystone Automotive Industries Inc. because the current price is a "substantial premium" for shareholders.

Fremont Sued For 'Deceptive' Loans

Fremont General Corp. was accused of using "unfair and deceptive" practices to sell subprime mortgages.

K-Swiss Shares Sink on Low Rating

Shares in K-Swiss Inc. sunk more than 3 percent Friday after a Banc of America Securities analyst started coverage of the athletic shoemaker and rated it a "sell," saying the company is still facing challenges in its international business.

Thursday, October 4

Rentech Buys 450 Acres for New Facility

Rentech Inc. said Wednesday that it has received approval from the local government to buy 450 acres in Adams County, Miss., that will be used to construct the company's synthetic transportation fuels manufacturing operation. No price for the transaction

Amgen Partners in Italy, Nixes Irish Plan

Amgen Inc. said Thursday that it was shelving plans for its big but postponed Irish plant. It also announced it will partner with Italian firm to market Amgen's products in Italy.

Health Net, BofA Team up on Debit Cards

Health Net Inc. said it has formed a partnership with Bank of America Corp. to market health-care payment plans.

Countrywide Tries to 'Protect' Image

For Countrywide Financial Corp., this time it's personal. At least that's what a top executive says.

Report: Countrywide to Report Wider Loss

An analyst said Thursday that he expects Countrywide Financial Corp. will report a much bigger third-quarter loss than previously predicted.

Daily Briefs

CSC Lands Portion of Big Deal; Northrop Lands big IT Contract

Murdock Plaza Sold for $130 Million

Murdock Plaza, a 17-story red-brick office building in Westwood that boasts VIP tenants such as ex-Mayor Richard Riordan and philanthropist Eli Broad, has been acquired for $130 million.

Guitar Center at 2-Year High on Deal Speculation

Shares in Guitar Center Inc. hit a 2-year high Wednesday fueled by anticipation that the $1.9 billion takeover by Bain Capital Partners was close to getting approval.

Cruise: Star Turned Studio Mogul

For most actors who make or star in films, redemption is having a hit after a stinker. The other type of redemption is the kind that superstar Tom Cruise and his longtime producing partner Paula Wagner hope to enjoy soon.

Disney Toys Recalled Due to Lead

The Walt Disney Co. is the latest toy licensee to have its goods recalled because they contained dangerous levels of lead in items manufactured in China.

Agency Hears More Port Plan Criticism

A division of the American Trucking Association is urging the Federal Maritime Commission to review a controversial program that would replace virtually all 16,000 short-haul trucks serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

Disney's Hawaii Resort, Sans Theme Park

Walt Disney Co.'s Parks & Resorts division said late Wednesday that it has purchased 21 acres of oceanfront property on the Hawaiian island of Oahu to build its first hotel not associated directly with a theme park.

L.A. Home Prices Poised to Drop Further

The outlook for house prices is getting even gloomier as traders on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange bet on steep price declines and the number of homes for sale grows.

Wednesday, October 3

U.S. to Have Say in Power Line Siting

The U.S. Department of Energy designated nearly all of Southern California, parts of Arizona and much of the northeast as "national interest" energy transmission corridors.

Worker Confidence Dips on Poor Outlook

L.A. worker confidence fell in September on expectations that employers would sharply curtail future hiring and that layoffs might increase, according to a survey released Wednesday.

International Rectifier CEO Resigns

The chief executive of International Rectifier Corp. resigned Tuesday, becoming the third executive to leave the company or to be fired this year.

Countrywide Ordered to Open Books

Countrywide Financial Corp. was ordered Wednesday to open its books and records to assist an investigation into possible manipulation of stock option grants to executives.

Writers Guild Seeks to Call Strike

Ratcheting up labor tensions in Hollywood, leaders of the Writers Guild of America on Monday said they would ask members for authorization to call a strike if the union is unable to negotiate a new three-year contract with major studios.

Northrop Reaffirms Guidance

Northrop Grumman Corp. reaffirmed its annual guidance Wednesday and added that it is still in the running for as much as $15 billion in contracts from the government to support operations countering drug running and narco-terrorism.

Daily Briefs

HCP announces offering of 9 million shares.

DreamWorks Slips on Downgrade

Shares in DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. were down more than 5 percent in early trading Wednesday after Pali Capital Inc. cut its rating on the stock.

Tuesday, October 2

Mazda Unveils Hydrogen Hybrid

Mazda unveiled a new hybrid vehicle on Tuesday that uses hydrogen fuel to power an electric motor. The Japanese automaker said it will be available for leasing in Japan next year.

Housing Stocks Rise Despite Falling Sales

Despite news that pending home sales were expected to tumble to their lowest levels in at least six years, L.A.-area lenders and homebuilders were buoyed for a second-straight day after an analyst called some stocks bargains.

Tetra Tech Closes Acquisition

Tetra Tech Inc. said Tuesday that it has completed the purchase of consulting firm ARD Inc.

City, Workers Reach Tentative Deal

Officials with six unions that represent about half of the city workers in Los Angeles said Monday that they had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, which probably ends any chance of a threatened municipal strike.

Crackdown on Illegal Workers Delayed

A federal judge signaled Monday that he is likely to prevent the Bush administration from threatening employers with prosecution if they fail to fire illegal immigrants.

MannKind Founder Gets 27 Million Shares

MannKind Corp. said Tuesday afternoon that it has agreed to sell 27 million shares of its common stock to the company's chief executive and founder, Alfred Mann, as well as two groups of investors.

Daily Briefs

MRV shares rise on upgrade.

Fremont Up on More Rumors

Shares in Fremont General Mortgage Corp. surged Tuesday after rumors on Wall Street that the company's off-again, on-again deal for a cash infusion from a Texas billionaire was apparently on again.

Monday, October 1

Certification, Not Licensing

Noting the large number of trades that require California licenses, Charles Crumpley believes that a certification process would be preferable.

Four-Letter Word?

If all goes according to plan, Rentech Inc. will be the first company in North America to produce jet fuel with coal liquefaction.

Post-Merger Challenges at CBRE

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.'s $2.2 billion acquisition of Trammell Crow Co. in December has shaken up the local brokerage industry, with about three quarters of Trammell Crow's SoCal brokers leaving the company.

Risky Business Good For Business

Wall Street really liked the news that the fabled Buffett might be interested in getting control of The Bear Stearns Companies Inc. He seems to be emerging as a one-man Plunge Protection Team.

A Big Deal for Demand

Demand Media Inc., a Santa Monica startup headed by former MySpace chairman Richard Rosenblatt, has received an additional $100 million in funding.

More Studios Say 'No Smoking'

Hollywood's big movie studios are divided on whether to show cigarette smoking in films that are likely to be seen by young audiences.

Lowe Enterprises Named Developer Of NoHo Art Wave

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarded Lowe Enterprises exclusive negotiating rights as master developer for the proposed NoHo Art Wave project.

Bright Idea

Litepanels Inc. makes long-lasting LED units that are illuminating the sets of popular TV programs.

Retailers Can Connect With Consumers Via MyFoxLA

KTTV-TV (Channel 11) has concocted a two-month-long contest to hype the launch of "MyFoxLA's Hotlist," a Web site that matches L.A.-based retailers with consumers

Port Officials See Emerging Threat From South

Amid considerable growth in Asian shipping to Mexico's Pacific Coast, the local ports have launched unprecedented talks with Mexican port officials.

A Question of Control

Experts from outside the United States last week publicly aired their suspicions about a U.S. land grab,in the area of accounting rulemaking, that is.

Pot Smoke, Caffeine, Chemicals May Be Added to List

Manufacturers in California are concerned that state regulators are considering adding 11 chemicals to the list of hazardous substances requiring the posting of notices under the state's Proposition 65 law.

IHOP to Drop Trans Fats

IHOP Corp. said on Monday that it plans to stop using frying oil that contains trans fats by the end of the year.

Bigger Not Better For These Brokers

CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.'s $2.2 billion acquisition of Trammell Crow Co. last December has shaken up the local brokerage industry.

Crustacean Sharpening Its Claws With Corporate Structure

With plans for growing AnTran Holdings LLC further, Elizabeth An has decided to create a corporate structure around the company.

Package-plasty

Patients have long come from afar to get "a little work done" in Beverly Hills; now they're adding entire 90210 fashion makeovers to their plastic surgery trips.

Foreign Investors Lining Up for L.A. Property Purchases

A partnership of Los Angeles developer Jeff Worthe and Delaware-based Stockbridge Real Estate Funds has purchased an ocean view hotel development site in Santa Monica.

Breitburn Tries for Appeal to Boomers Seeking Income Stocks

Randy Breitenbach and Hal Washburn pledged to go into the oil business while college roommates. They've struck black gold with Breitburn Energy Partners LP.

Koreatown Complexes Change Hands

StarPoint Properties LLC and Praedium Group LLC partnered in a $50.1 million deal to purchase a four-property apartment portfolio that includes complexes in Koreatown and Winnetka.

ValueClick Stock Is Surging but Sale Seen as Unlikely

ValueClick Inc. jumped 21 percent last week after an analyst said the company could be acquired. But other analysts don't feel ValueClick is ripe for a takeover.

Sony's Consolidation Project Will Bring 600 to Culver City

Sony Pictures Entertainment executives, local government officials and Gov. Schwarzenegger broke ground last week on a construction project on the studio's Culver City lot.

Newsmakers

New hires and promotions at Los Angeles area businesses.

Radio Stations Ready For Ratings Revolution

Matt Mallon, general sales manager at radio station KABC-AM (790), is turning up the volume.

See's Goes to War Over What Makes 'Real' Chocolate

See's Candies Inc. is waging a campaign to keep cocoa butter an essential ingredient of chocolate. Industry giants want to use substitutes such as vegetable oils.

American States Lands Major Contract

American States Water Co. said a subsidiary has been awarded a 50-year contract, valued at more than $575 million, to operate and maintain water and wastewater systems at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Businesses Need to Back Gov. Schwarzenegger's Health Care Reform Plan

California businesses should embrace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's health care reform plan, which will be successful if employers accept a shared financial responsibility, writes Brandon F. Shamim.

Jeans Firm Got Too Big for Its Britches

Premium denim company Blue Holdings Inc. has seen its expansion plans unravel amid lackluster sales.

Cash Infusion Could Mean Earthlink Wants to Quit Helio

For most startups, $270 million in new funding would be seen as a positive sign.

Careful Consideration of Many Options Must Precede Adoption of Reform

Tom Lucas wants the state to talk to stakeholders and proceed slowly as it works to fix California's dysfunctional health care system.

A Healing Touch

Dr. Jimmy Hara, a longtime social activist, leads a popular program for aspiring family practice doctors at Kaiser Permanente.

Big 'Green' Freighter Makes First Stop at Los Angeles Port

The world's largest alternative maritime power vessel which can plug into shore-side electrical power while at berth recently made its maiden voyage to the Port of Los Angeles, marking a step forward for the technology.

Attorneys Joining the Ranks in Field of Expert Witnesses

A lucrative trend in the legal world is cropping up as more attorneys are serving as expert witnesses.

Regional Report

Business news briefs from around the Greater Los Angeles area.

T-Formation

Marq Massengale is a former semi-pro football player who's launching Ta-Bu clothing with his mom.

ValueClick Sale Seen as Unlikely

ValueClick Inc. jumped 21 percent last week after an analyst said the company could be acquired. But other analysts don't feel ValueClick is ripe for a takeover.