Stories for September 2007

Friday, September 28

Recruiting the YouTube Generation

Law firms have discovered YouTube. Well, actually, they have discovered that the law students they are trying to recruit as summer associates watch YouTube, the popular video Web site.

Advanced Photonix Plant To Expand

Semiconductor component maker Advanced Photonix Inc. said it will close its Dodgeville, Wis. assembly plant and transfer the operations to its Camarillo facility.

Spending, Construction Both Rise

Consumers shrugged off a rash of bad news to spend more than expected in August while a key measure of inflation eased to the slowest pace in 3 1/2 years. Construction activity also rose above expectations.

Element of Surprise

Security officials at Los Angeles International Airport now have a new weapon in their fight against terrorism: complete, baffling randomness.

AIG to Merge Insurance Units

American International Group Inc. said it would eliminate 600 jobs in combining its auto unit with Woodland Hills-based 21st Century Insurance Group, which it acquired on Thursday.

Thursday, September 27

Countrywide Starts Local Job Cuts

Countrywide Financial Corp. has started cutting jobs in Southern California as part of its plan to slash up to 12,000 positions companywide.

European Panel Mulling Drug Warnings

A European advisory committee is recommending stronger warnings be placed on the class of anemia drugs that includes Amgen Inc.'s Aranesp, as U.S. regulators have already done.

L.A.'s Reborn Denim Industry

AT first blush, Bread Denim, a one-year-old clothing maker in this city's gritty industrial district, appears to be a flash in the fashion pan, a fledgling, trend-riding company without a future.

Disney Pulls Plug On Cell Service

The Walt Disney Co. has decided to pull the plug on its branded cell phone service by the end of the year.

Investors Remain Calm Despite Bad News

Shares of local real estate companies stood pat Thursday despite another spate of bad housing news, and expectations of more to come a sign that many of the stocks may have already bottomed out.

Lowe Lands NoHo Art Wave Project

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has awarded Lowe Enterprises exclusive negotiating rights as master developer for the proposed NoHo Art Wave project adjacent to the North Hollywood Metro Red Line station.

KB Reports Loss, Forecasts More Woes

KB Home reported a smaller third quarter loss than analysts had expected thanks to the sale of its French subsidiary but also warned that the housing market will likely get worse next year.

Wednesday, September 26

Home Prices Slip in Most Areas

Home prices in Los Angeles County fell from their year-ago levels in 65 of 92 markets in August as sales continued their steep decline, a trade association said Tuesday.

Activision Buys British Game Developer

Activision Inc. said Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire U.K.-based developer Bizarre Creations in an effort to diversify its game titles.

LAX-China Plan Hitting Turbulence

United Airlines' bid to start a nonstop service from LAX to Shanghai hit major turbulence Tuesday after the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would recommend other U.S.-China routes proposed by competing airlines.

Amgen Details Plans for Job Cuts

Amgen Inc. said Tuesday that 675 jobs would be cut at its headquarters in Thousand Oaks, adding to the economic woes of the region.

KB, Disney Team up on Branded Homes

KB Home has enlisted the help of Mickey Mouse to sell homes.

Will Wi-Fi Connect in L.A.?

During the last six months, the prospects for delivering free high-speed wireless Internet service throughout metropolitan areas went from a sure bet to a sucker bet.

Ford Reneges on Fremont Deal

Shares in Fremont General Corp. plummeted nearly 20 percent Wednesday after billionaire banker Gerald Ford reneged on a rescue plan for the troubled lender announced earlier this year.

Daily Briefs

Jacobs Wins $400 Million Saudi Contract; Northrop, General Dynamics Switch Duties.

Tuesday, September 25

Housing Woes Continue on Sales Data

Shares in local homebuilders continued to fall Tuesday after the National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell for a sixth straight month in August, pushing activity to the lowest point in five years.

ValueClick Continues to Gain on Rumors

Shares in ValueClick Inc. continued to soar as rumors of an acquisition swirled, stoking investor interest.

No Impact of Walkout at Superior, Yet

Superior Industries International, which manufactures tens of thousands of wheels each week for General Motors vehicles, has not been affected by the strike against the American car giant - yet.

Mattel's Apology Only Makes it Worse

Suppose you're a high-ranking official in China's Communist Party and it's your job to worry about improving the nation's global image. Should you be pleased by Mattel's apology "to the Chinese people?" Odds are you're tickled to death. And therein lies a

Amgen to Cut 675 Area Jobs

In the latest economic jolt to the region, beleaguered biotech giant Amgen Inc. said Monday that it will lay off about 8 percent of the company's 8,300 Thousand Oaks workers this fall.

Monday, September 24

Boeing Space Ace Bullish on Business

Over the years, the Los Angeles City Council has developed a reputation of being unfriendly to business and sometimes just downright anti-business.

Advertising Executive Still Finds Time for Vocal Stylings

Kevin White

Special Report: Best Places to Work: L.A.

The best places to work in Los Angeles often foster an environment of respect and recognition among employees of all levels.

Reliance Shares Drop on Downgrade

Shares in Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. dropped 1.5 percent after the Los Angeles steel and aluminum distributor was cut to "neutral" from "buy" by UBS analyst Timna Tanners.

Portable Generators Ignite Dock Squawk

Wittmar Engineering has developed generators that could quickly and cheaply cut air pollution at the ports. But the Port of Los Angeles is resisting the system.

Tree Trimmers, Fence Builders Shouldn't Need Licenses

California's occupational licenses are anti-competition, according to Adam B. Summers.

China Says Mattel Apology Overdue

China's state media on Monday welcomed U.S. toy maker Mattel's apology over its recalls of Chinese-made toys, saying that although overdue it should help restore the country's sullied export reputation.

2. Wells Fargo & Co.

Large Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Kosher Calling

Yidtones provides Jewish-themed content for mobile devices, including cell phone ring tones.

CytRx Shares Holding Up Well Despite CFO Departures

In a skittish stock market, the sudden departure from a small company of just one top executive let alone two can send stock prices reeling, especially if they are accounting types.

Downtown Ralphs' Super Sales

Just two months after its heralded debut, the Downtown Ralphs already ranks in the top 15% of the chain's 262 Southern California supermarkets.

3. Business.com

Medium-Sized Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Homebuilders Sink Ahead of Earnings

Shares in local homebuilders hit new lows Monday as investors anticipated more bad news to hit the beleaguered market.

Newsmakers/Kudos

Hirings, promotions and kudos.

L.A. Council Inaugurates Panel on Business and Jobs

L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti is creating a new business and jobs-oriented committee in an effort to address companies' concerns.

1. Aquent LLC

Small Companies Capital Network Capital Network that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

CSC Maintains Characteristic Silence on Accounting Errors

Analysts might be surprised over Computer Sciences Corp.'s errors that could total $600 million, but they say the company's silence is to be expected.

Business Gets Queasy on Health Proposals

Business groups are gearing up for a battle over health insurance reform as Sacramento officials consider mandates that could cost companies significantly.

Toy Story

Mattel has masterfully handled its crisis over lead-tainted toys, PR experts say, but now the company must make sure it handles the next problems.

1. Capital Group Cos.

Large Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Bank of America Signs $28 Million Downtown Sublease

Bank of America Corp. has signed a 10-year sublease valued at $28 million for space in downtown's Garland Center with Charter Holdings Inc.

California Speedway Puts Executives in the Driver's Seat

Enlightened executives are revving up business meetings by shifting them to California Speedway in Fontana for the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

4. Longo Toyota, Scion & Lexus

Large Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Finally, a Place At the Table

City Council President Eric Garcetti formed a committee to make L.A. more business friendly, and Charles Crumpley believes it's about time.

5. Capital Network Leasing Company

Medium-Sized Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Schematic Isn't Just Leading Audience to Link to Lotion

L.A.-based Schematic is a Web design firm, an ad agency and a tech company rolled into one.

Wrap and Roll

Publicity for the L.A. Opera wrapped over tanker trucks? Welcome to the new world of mobile marketing.

State Close to Universal Health Care

With his own party sidelined, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is working with Democrats to produce a bill that would extend health insurance to everyone in the nation's largest state if voters approve new taxes to pay for it.

Plastic Pipe Manufacturer JM Eagle Lands in Los Angeles

The world's largest plastic pipe manufacturer last week said it will move its corporate headquarters to Los Angeles.

Conservative Firm Hasn't Cashed In On Credit Crunch

Anworth Mortgage Asset Corp., a real estate finance company, usually benefits from any downturn in its sector. But shareholders are still waiting for the payoff.

Generation Gap

Wittmar Engineering makes generators that can power docked ships with electricity at significant cost savings.

Disney Adds 'Blossom' Flower Girl Gowns to Bridal Line

Last week, Walt Disney Co. unveiled its "Blossoms" line of flower girl dresses, just months after the debut of its line of bridal gowns.

Abraxis Subsidiary Lands Army Deal

A subsidiary of Abraxis BioScience Inc. said Monday that it had signed a three-year research and development agreement with U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense.

Use Tolls to Help Pay for Repair, Replacement of L.A. Bridges

John McLaurin writes that it's time to institute tolls to fund bridge repair, maintenance and replacement.

Value Click Shares Soar on Rumors

Shares in ValueClick Inc. shot up nearly 9 percent Monday as more rumors that the online advertising company may be acquired circled Wall Street.

4. Murphy O'Brien Inc.

Medium-Sized Companies Murphy O'Brien Inc. that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Not Just Talk

Tavis Smiley has branched out from broadcasting and heads a speakers bureau, a book imprint and an events production company.

More Than a 9 to 5

The best places to work in Los Angeles often foster an environment of respect and recognition among employees of all levels.

2. Insomniac Games Inc.

Medium-Sized Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Blue Holdings Cuts Jobs, Closes Stores

Blue Holdings Inc. said Monday that it will discontinue its underperforming Life & Death brand, shutter the company's only two retail stores and cut its workforce by about 25 percent.

Vote Delay Means Port Trucking Plan Will Be Postponed

The plan that would kill off more than 1,000 small truck companies that serve the ports will be postponed again.

O'Melveny Signs On as Sponsor of Civil Rights Group

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund announced last week that the law firm O'Melveny & Myers LLP has become a national sponsor of the organization.

5. Lockheed Federal Credit Union

Large Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

1. PCL Construction Services Inc.

Founded 101 years ago, PCL Construction Services is all about longevity and stability both in its business and corporate culture.

3. Bentley Prince Street Inc.

Large Companies that offer extraordinary benefits and growth opportunities for their workers.

Friday, September 21

Turmoil Within DreamWorks Hierarchy

Less than two years after Steven Spielberg and his partners sold DreamWorks SKG to Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures for $1.6 billion, a divorce appears to be inevitable.

Trying to sell 200 Homes in 10 Days

In an effort to entice buyers, Standard Pacific Homes is staging an aggressive campaign called "Mission: Possible" to sell 200 homes across Southern California over a 10-day period, ending Sunday.

Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest public companies gained 2.6 percent this week thanks in large part to a rate cut by the Federal Reserve that sent 123 of the index's companies, and nearly all companies touched by the housing or

Unemployment Up, Uncertainty Looms

The unemployment rate in Los Angeles Country was 4.9 percent in August, up from 4.8 percent in July, the state's Employment Development Department said Friday.

Mattel Issues Profuse Apology to China

U.S.-based toy giant Mattel Inc. issued an extraordinary apology to China today over the recall of Chinese-made toys, taking the blame for design flaws and saying it had recalled more lead-tainted toys than justified.

Group Critical of Mozilo's Compensation

Corporate governance research group the Corporate Library said Friday that Countrywide Financial Corp. needs to fix its "poorly designed" executive compensation and questioned the decision-making ability of the company's directors.

European Panel OKs Amgen Cancer Drug

Amgen Inc. said Friday that it won a European regulatory panel recommendation for clearance of its cancer drug Vectibix -- provided the thousand Oaks-based biotech provides the panel with additional information on safety and effectiveness.

Thursday, September 20

Ports, Distribution Firms Surge Together

The huge wave of trade with China and other countries that has washed over the ports here and in Long Beach has been a boon to companies that once regarded themselves simply as small warehouse and distribution businesses

Row 44 to Test In-Flight Internet

Westlake Village-based Row 44 and Alaska Airlines are partnering to launch inflight wireless Internet service.

Daily Briefs

Occidental bids for drilling rights off the coast of Bahrain.

Sport Chalet Dips on Dim Forecast

Shares in Sport Chalet Inc. dropped more than 6 percent Thursday after the company announced that it expects second-quarter same-store sales to decline between 2 percent and 3 percent.

Ameron Posts Strong Q3

Ameron International Corp. reported double-digit growth for its third quarter thanks mainly to increased sales, the company said.

Source: More Lead-Paint Recalls Coming

More toys with lead-contaminated paint will be recalled in the coming weeks, a source with knowledge of the announcements said Wednesday.

Milberg's Weiss May Face Indictment

Having secured a plea this week with one of its biggest targets in the criminal prosecution of Milberg Weiss, the government is moving forward against another.

The ABCs of the Health Care Debate

Lawmakers are in a special sessions to discuss water and health issues. Here's a primer on the health care debate.

Wednesday, September 19

Afternoon Briefs

Guitar Center shareholders approve Bain acquisition; AdStar gets de-listing notice from Nasdaq.

Center Financial Buys Atlanta Bank

Center Financial Corp. said Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire Atlanta-based First Intercontinental Bank for $65 million in cash and stock.

Disneyland Hotel to Offer Time Shares

Disneyland Resort announced plans to add 250 units to its luxury Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, including its first 50 time-share offerings on the West Coast.

Live Nation Hints at Shift in Strategy

Live Nation Inc.'s Chief Executive Michael Rapino said that by ending a long-term contract with Ticketmaster, the company will gain additional control over the distribution of tickets to its shows, confirming speculation that the company was moving to fo

Topps Buyout Gets Approval

Baseball-card maker Topps Co. said its shareholders have approved the $385 million buyout bid from Michael Eisner's Tornante Co. and private-equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC.

NetSol Shares Surge on Q4 Earnings

Shares in NetSol Technologies Inc. soared nearly 50 percent -- to a new 52-week high -- Wednesday after the company reported that it had swung to fourth-quarter profit.

Valley Troubles Reflects Housing Woes

Foreclosures soared nearly 400 percent across the greater San Fernando Valley in August as the residential real estate market sank further and lenders tightened credit standards, a research center said Tuesday.

L.A Companies Gain on Mortgage Data

Shares in local lenders, real estate brokers and homebuilders continued to gain Wednesday after a report showed increased mortgage activity.

Mozilo Sees 'Opportunity'

Angelo Mozilo, chief executive of beleaguered Countrywide Financial Corp., said Tuesday that the lender was making progress in adjusting to the harsh new realities of the home mortgage market.

Activision Chief Is Optimistic

Activision Inc.'s Chief Executive Bobby Kotick said Tuesday that impending cuts in the cost of the next generation of game consoles will lead to increased sales and revenues for videogame developers.

Tuesday, September 18

WGA Talks Hold Little Hope

Strike fever's about to hit Hollywood hard. With WGA negotiations set to resume Wednesday, the saber-rattling is growing louder and the public posturing more pointed.

Posh Condo Development Sold

Fifield Cos. has sold a Wilshire Corridor condo development once touted as the city's most high-end to a Dubai developer for its $95.4 million asking price.

Attendance Strong at Disney Parks

Bookings at The Walt Disney Co.'s domestic theme parks aren't reflecting a broader economic downturn, the company's chief financial officer said Monday.

Reliance Buys British Company

Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. said Tuesday that it is acquiring Metalweb PLC for an undisclosed amount.

Hilton Investors OK Blackstone Deal

Hilton Hotels Corp. said Tuesday that its stockholders have approved the $20 billion sale of the company to the Blackstone Group LP.

State Jumbo Loan Securities Vulnerable

Securities backed by prime U.S. jumbo mortgages may be riskier than investors think because almost half of the underlying loans are from California, where home prices may again collapse, according to Barclays PLC.

Korean Financial Adviser Sentenced

The former owner and operator of the now-defunct downtown investment adviser firm C+ Capital Management LLC was sentenced Monday afternoon to 87 months in federal prison.

Anworth Shares Soar After Rate Cut

Shares in Anworth Mortgage Asset Corp. soared 13 percent Tuesday after the Federal Reserve Board of Governors cut interest rates by a half point. Also, the lender earlier said it will take an estimated $143 million impairment charge.

Ryland Stock Bucks Trend

Shares in Ryland Group Inc. gained more than 3 percent Tuesday after the company's chief financial officer said that limited exposure to volatile housing markets has helped it fair better than its competitors.

Daily Briefs

Salem acquires Christian music Web site.

L.A. Companies Surge After Rate Cut

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest area public companies shot up nearly 3 percent seconds after the Federal Reserve Board of Governors announced it was cutting a key interest rate by a half point.

Clean Trucks Won't Hinder Port

Diversion of cargo to competing West Coast seaports would be minimal if authorities in San Pedro implement their clean-truck program, a study shows.

MySpace Mulling Customized Ads

Members of the booming social network Web sites treat their individual profile pages as a creative canvas for personal expression.

Monday, September 17

Move Inc.'s Board OKs Buyback

Shares in Move Inc. continued to gain Tuesday after the company said Monday that its board approved a buyback of up to $50 million of common stock.

Have a Cow

George Smart calls his relaxation concoction Blue Cow and he wants to make it as popular as some of the energy drinks on the market.

Wait Until Next Year for Upside To Mercury General's Outlook

Mercury General

Event Producer Brings Extra Polish to Car Auction

Angel City Designs, which has staged some Hollywood extravaganzas, put extra polish on the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance car auction this year.

Bring Big Boxes to Watts and Allow Kids to Choose Jobs Over Gang Life

Bring those big boxes to Watts, where Henry Broomfield says they will create jobs for kids who would otherwise join gangs and deal drugs.

Jury Is Still Out on Returns to Real Life

Gloria Allred and Bruce Cutler are joining other attorneys on TV shows. But it can be tough to return to the practice when lawyers' media star no longer shines.

Companies Jumping Into the Stream of Streaming Video

YouTube led the Internet's user-generated video content explosion and now, the pros are seeping in.

Trio Tech Shares Plummet After Earnings

After reporting fourth quarter and annual earnings on Monday, Trio-Tech International's stock plummeted more than 30 percent.

You Can't Stop the Box

Charles Crumpley appreciates the arguments against big-box stores, but he places a greater value on the concept of "creative destruction."

Maguire Shares Drop on Downgrade

Shares in Maguire Properties Inc. dipped 4.6 percent Monday after they were downgraded by Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc.

JM Eagle to Move HQ to L.A.

JM Eagle, the world's largest plastic pipe manufacturer, said it is moving its headquarters to Los Angeles as the company moves to consolidate its call center and get closer to its Asian suppliers, JM Eagle said Monday.

Safety Agency Decides Not to Make Rules on Indoor Heat

Last month the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health considered whether to impose indoor heat illness requirements on employers.

Street Socks Stock Of CB Richard Ellis

CB Richard Ellis Group soundly beat Wall Street expectations but investors punished the stock anyway due to concerns about the sector.

KSL's Band Campaign Exemplifies Mid-Market Strategy

A yearlong battle finally built to a crescendo on Sept. 5, when three musical acts faced off in the Hollywood House of Blues.

Bright Side

Tim Wennes, president of Countrywide Bank, sees opportunities now that the parent company is relying on his operation to fund its mortgages.

The Dialysis Business: Fair Treatment?

Kent J. Thiry, the chief executive of DaVita, a leading provider of dialysis services, regularly dons a Three Musketeers costume at company meetings, brandishes a sword and leads employees in chants of "All for One" and "One for All."

Malibu Lumber Yard Site Turns Into Major Retail Project

Los Angeles' next hot retail project will not be located on tony Rodeo Drive or along trendy Robertson Boulevard, but instead at a former lumber yard in Malibu.

The Hole Story

A classic but hardly cool snack the doughnut is getting the upscale treatment in shops around town, including Frittelli's in Beverly Hills.

Grocery Sales Exceed Expectations at Downtown Ralphs

Ralphs' first grocery store in L.A.'s revitalized downtown is a hit, with sales that place it among the top shops in the chain.

Good Box, Bad Box?

Discount chain stores aren't good for the economy, writes Rod Hagenbuch, because they diminish the quality of the community through loss of businesses.

Newsmakers

Promotions, kudos and hirings.

Proposed Fee Hike Sparks Outrage

The Downtown development community is in an uproar over a proposed move that would significantly hike the fees developers of adaptive reuse, live-work projects are required to pay to help fund local parks.

L.A. Gets On Board

The spreading presence of surf attire on retail shelves and the emergence of local surf wear companies point to L.A.'s increasing clout in that sector.

Rodeo Shopping Center Fetches Top Dollar

Two Rodeo Drive, a high-end shopping plaza in Beverly Hills, has been sold for $275 million, or $2,132 per square foot.

Daily Briefs

L.A. Chamber expected to endorse Governor Schwarzenegger's health care reform proposal.

Multiculturalism Spells Success For L.A. Construction Company

George Pla's engineering firm, Cordoba Corp., gets 40 percent of its revenues from public projects thanks to his multicultural orientation.

New Bid to Ground Stage 2 Aircraft at Van Nuys Airport

Businesses at Van Nuys Airport have been fearing the economic impact of a federal proposal to phase out older, Stage 2 aircraft, including the popular Gulfstream II business jet.

Warner Buys Japanese Music Service

Warner Music Group Corp. said Monday that it has acquired a 70 percent interest in Japanese artist services company Taisuke.

Platinum Studios Prepares for Over-the-Counter Trading

Platinum Studios Inc. has filed for a direct public offering that would make the company's stock available for over-the-counter trading.

LAX Facelift Uncovers Problems

What started as a simple patch job on the Theme Building at LAX has turned into a long struggle to rebuild the L.A. landmark.

Restaurateurs Taking a Stand With Regional Expansion

Forget wine and cheese. Richard Shapiro and Murray Wishengrad remain convinced that wine and gourmet hot dogs are even better.

Regional Report

Business news from around L.A. County.

Friday, September 14

Santa Anita May be Sold

The Canadian owner of Santa Anita Park may put the famous horse-racing venue in Arcadia up for sale as it struggles to be profitable in the troubled racing industry.

EU Notifies Hilton, Blackstone of Probe

European Union regulators have begun their antitrust review Friday of the $26 billion acquisition of Hilton Hotels Corp. by Blackstone Group LP.

SpaceX Wins Telecom Contract

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the El Segundo-based developer of low-cost rockets, signed a launch contract with a British telecommunications company worth up to $150 million if all options are exercised, the South Bay firm said Thursday.

Countrywide Gains Again

Despite pessimistic news, the stock of Countrywide Financial Corp. continued to advance for a second straight day.

Council to Create Business Committee

A business-oriented City Council committee will be formed soon, Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti told the Business Journal on Friday.

Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 biggest public companies finished up 1.5 percent this week, with 109 companies finishing up.

Daily Briefs

Grill Concepts gets analysts coverage.

Google to Sponsor Race to Moon

The Internet search giant hopes to fuel a new technological revolution by sponsoring the Google Lunar X Prize, which would award as much as $30 million in prizes for landing unmanned rovers on the moon and having them perform certain tasks.

Thursday, September 13

Bill Advances `Subway to the Sea'

Congress voted Wednesday to repeal a 20-year-old prohibition against using federal money to tunnel under the Wilshire Corridor, removing another hurdle from Los Angeles' proposed "subway to the sea."

Upgrades Needed For LAX

Overseas flights at Los Angeles International Airport added 363,700 jobs and $82.1 billion to the Southern California economy last year, but the aging facility needs serious upgrades to remain competitive, a study released Wednesday says.

Daily Briefs

Simulations Plus Declares Split.

Amgen Still Gaining After FDA Ruling

Amgen Inc. continues to benefit from a favorable ruling by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week. Shares in the biotech firm saw a second-straight day of gains, adding 2.3 percent after it was upgraded by two investment firms Thursday.

Countrywide Gets Financing; Lending Dips

Countrywide Financial Corp said Thursday that it has lined up $12 billion of secured financing to help it cope with reduced loan demand, a slumping housing market and declining investor confidence.

First Consulting Sells Software Unit

Long Beach health care technology services provider First Consulting Group Inc. said that it is exiting the software products business for now, and has sold its FirstGateways business to MedPlus Inc. for more than $8 million.

TV Pros Plan MySpace Show

The Emmy-winning creators of "My So-Called Life" and "thirtysomething" are two of the biggest television names so far to unveil ambitious stand-alone projects for the Web.

Shares in Diodes Jump On Upped Guidance

Shares in Diodes Inc. jumped nearly 8 percent Thursday after the semiconductor maker raised its third-quarter revenue guidance.

Wednesday, September 12

Molina Ups Annual Guidance, Shares Gain

Shares in Molina Healthcare Inc. gained 2 percent Wednesday after the company upped its annual earnings forecast.

KB Home Names New Legal Chief

KB Home said Wednesday that it has hired Wendy Shiba as the homebuilders general counsel after the company's previous legal chief quit amid a stock-options backdating investigation.

Forecast Warns of L.A. Recession

California is in for a rough 18 months as the real estate slowdown is expected to push the state to the brink of recession, warns the UCLA Anderson Forecast in an updated report released Wednesday morning.

Countrywide Sued Over 401(K) Plans

Some Countrywide Financial Corp. employees filed a lawsuit against the giant lender Wednesday claiming they suffered heavy losses in their retirement accounts when the company failed to be honest with them about the company's financial troubles.

Skechers' Shares Soar on Upgrade

Shares in Skechers U.S.A. Inc. climbed 8 percent Wednesday after BB & T; Capital Markets raised its rating on the shoe and apparel maker to a "buy" from "hold."

Mattel Pledges to Make Toys Safe

Mattel Inc. CEO Robert Eckert sought Wednesday to tamp down public outrage over unsafe Chinese-made toys, acknowledging that his company made mistakes by not closely overseeing subcontractors in China.

North American Sells Facility

North American Scientific Inc. said Wednesday that it has agreed to sell its Nomos Radiation Oncology business to privately held Best Medical International Inc. for about $3.6 million.

Anschutz Eligible for Housing Funds

Entertainment conglomerate Anschutz Entertainment Group would be eligible for millions of dollars in state housing funds under a measure lawmakers approved early today as they moved toward adjournment for the year.

A Step Forward for Grand Ave. Project

A key committee of the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday rejected an effort by the Westin Bonaventure Hotel to derail a $2- billion mega-project that would bring a luxury hotel and more than 1,300 homes to downtown.

CytRx CFO Quits

CytRx Corp. said Wednesday that Matthew Natalizio quit as the company's chief financial officer.

Tuesday, September 11

Air Pollution Still Rising at Port

It's a case of economic growth outstripping environmental initiative at the Port of Long Beach, as a new survey shows air pollution volumes rising by double-digit levels in recent years.

Panel Says Anemia Drug Dosage OK

Shares in Amgen Inc. shot up 5.5 percent Tuesday after a panel of expert advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug said that labels on Amgen's best-selling anemia drugs do not need to reflect lower dosages than now recommended.

Cogent Shares Soar on Upgrade

Shares in Cogent Inc. soared for the second straight day after an analyst raised his rating for the tech company.

DaVita Acquires Stake in HomeChoice

El Segundo-based dialysis services provider DaVita Inc. said that it has acquired 85 percent of HomeChoice Partners Inc. for approximately $65 million in cash in a bid to diversify its business.

CEO Says Amgen Will Overcome Issues

The chief executive of Amgen Inc. sought to reassure investors Monday that the company will overcome a variety of difficulties with regulators on its anemia drugs that have threatened to curb their use.

Another Deal in the Works for Countrywide

Countrywide Financial Corp. is working on putting together another billion-dollar bailout plan as the nation's largest lender struggles amid a global credit crunch and rapidly declining housing market.

China Bans Lead Paint on Toy Exports

China signed an agreement Tuesday to prohibit the use of lead paint on toys exported to the United States.

Monday, September 10

Aerovironment Flying Higher With Contract for 'Raven'

Despite the recent death of its renowned founder, things were looking up for Aerovironment Inc., which announced a double dose of good news last week.

Early Commitment to College Will Be Good for L.A.'s Economy

Jack Scott and Bill Hauck write that early commitment to college education is a concept that will lead to a better-educated workforce.

Amgen Faces More Hurdles

It's been a brutal summer for Amgen Inc. -- and the heat goes on. After a series of regulatory setbacks, layoffs and financial jolts, the company faces additional hurdles over the next few weeks surrounding its top-selling anemia drugs.

It's Time for Retailers to Take Action on Identity Theft

It's predictable, Charles Crumpley writes: A scandal such as the subprime crisis will result in more regulation. But that will just muck up the works.

Fashion Fission Over Anti-Knockoff Bill

L.A.'s fashion industry opposes anti-piracy legislation now before the U.S. Senate.

Avenida Madison

Advertising veteran Hector Orci sees Hispanic consumers as not just a little different from Anglos

Subprime's Silver Lining

Many see a rainy day, others see opportunity in the stormy financial climate created by the lending crisis.

Countrywide Slips After Group Cuts Stake

Shares in Countrywide Financial Corp. lost an additional 5 percent Monday after one of the troubled lender's largest shareholders cut its stake in the company by more than 50 percent.

Field Opens for Strategic Players As Private Equity Is Sidelined

akeovers are getting easier for firms making strategic acquisitions as private equity buyers are squeezed out.

Mattress Gallery Sold to Houston Firm

Los Angeles-based Mattress Gallery, which owns and operates 53 mattress stores in Southern California, is set to be purchased by Houston-based Mattress Firm, the number three retailer of mattresses with 450 stores in 21 states.

Five-Star Stores

Hotel stores are moving beyond magazines and toothbrushes. Now they offer art and even furniture.

Summer Has Been a Bummer For International Rectifier

A growing scandal has left a trail of banished senior managers at International Rectifier Corp.

TLC Moves Operations to Los Angeles

Discovery Communications' TLC is moving operations to L.A., staffers at the network were told Monday.

Button-Down Bankers Find Caution Pays in Credit Crisis

Thanks to cautious practices, banks such as City National have avoided the credit crunch.

Northrop, Cogent Settle Dispute

Northrop Grumman Corp. said it will pay Cogent Inc. $25 million to settle a two-year old lawsuit over automated fingerprint identification technology.

Newsmakers

Hirirngs, promotions and kudos.

Avery Shares Drop on Guidance Cut

Shares in Avery Dennison Corp. lost nearly 4 percent Monday after the company lowered its forecast for 2007 profit.

WPP Acquires Schematic

The great digital advertising agency buyout binge continued today as the WPP Group acquired Schematic, an independent interactive agency based in Los Angeles.

RadNet Inc. Managing to Augment Acquisition Strategy

Primedex Health Systems Inc. last year became the nation's largest operator of medical imaging centers by acquiring a major competitor and changing its name to RadNet Inc. Now the Los Angeles-based owner of more than 140 imaging centers is branching out i

Real Money

Santa Monica-based Trilogy Studio is at the vanguard as advertisers make inroads on the Internet's virtual worlds.

CSC Errors Could Cost $200 Million

Computer Sciences Corp. said late Monday that it plans to restate fiscal results for more than a decade to correct errors relating to its accounting for income taxes and for the effect of foreign currency exchange rate movements on certain accounts.

Mayer Brown Brings Back Leading Real Estate Lawyer

The Los Angeles office of Mayer Brown LLP announced last week that Brian Aronson has rejoined the firm as partner.

Triathlon Fever Running High at More L.A. Companies

Triathlons races in which competitors swim, cycle, and run are becoming ever more popular with local businesses.

Prez Parade Has L.A. Partying, Ponying Up

Labor Day traditionally kicks presidential campaigning into high gear, and that's the case this year. L.A. County business types are partying, ponying up and pushing petitions.

Rewriting Hollywood's Rules

Kevin Morris had just negotiated a landmark deal giving the creators of "South Park," Matt Stone and Trey Parker a precedent-setting 50 percent stake in the cartoon's success on the Web and other emerging media.

Credit Unions Step In as Big Lenders Falter

With subprime mortgage lenders shutting their doors, niche lenders see opportunities to gain customers.

Credit Woes Hit Commercial Market

The global credit crunch that has rattled financial markets the last few weeks is finally reaching the vast commercial real estate investment and development industry.

Company's Goal Is to Bring Power of Web to TV Viewing

For Bryan Biniak, chief executive of Jacked Inc., television should be an interactive experience. The Santa Monica-based company has 10 patents filed to make this possible through Jacked.

Test Fest

Phenomenex Inc. makes components for machines that can analyze chemical elements.

Company Gives Away the Store but Charges for Savings

Etorus Inc. distributes its fuel-saving devices at no charge. The company will make money when truckers save diesel costs.

Technicolor Shifts to Digital Production, Online Distribution

Technicolor Inc., the iconic Hollywood company with the color film process that dominated the industry from the 1920s to the 1950s, is sharpening its digital focus.

Cash-Strapped Firms Seek Venture Capital

This sector is flourishing as cash-strapped startups search for hard-to-find financing.

Disney To Inspect Toys Made by Others

Walt Disney Co. said Monday that it will begin independently testing toys featuring its characters after three high-profile recalls over the past two months by Mattel Inc.

Entrepreneurs Snap Up Foreclosures on Courthouse Steps

Entrepreneurs such as Jerry Barth snap up distressed properties at auctions on courthouse steps.

CBRE Shares Dip on Third Downgrade

Shares in CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. dipped nearly 6 percent Monday after the world's largest real estate broker was downgraded to "neutral" from "buy."

Hollywood Vet Brings Movie Marketing to Moscow

Hollywood veteran Brian Fox is introducing American-style marketing to the world of Russian cinema.

Real Estate: Market Hits the Skids Amid Credit Crunch

August sales of Los Angeles County homes and condos, sorted by neighborhood.

SPECIAL REPORT: Subprime's Silver Lining

Many see a rainy day, others see opportunity in the stormy financial climate created by the lending crisis.

August Home Sales Take a Major Plunge

The expanding mortgage crisis and credit crunch slammed the Los Angeles housing market in August.

Mucking Up The Works

It's predictable, Charles Crumpley writes: A scandal such as the subprime crisis will result in more regulation. But that will just muck up the works.

Vulture Investors, Contrarians Still Pick Up the Scent of Cash

Contrarian investors are hoping to skim a profit from distressed debt and other risky investments.

L.A. Weekly Makes Alternative Choice with Westside Lease

The alternative weekly newspaper, LA Weekly, is upgrading its office with a move from Hollywood to the Westside.

Friday, September 7

Riordan, Burkle Settle Dispute

Hours after Richard Riordan sued Ron Burkle Thursday over a business deal gone sour, Burkle settled a long-running dispute with the former Los Angeles mayor that had wrecked their friendship.

CBRE Stung By Another Downgrade

Shares in CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. lost 9 percent Friday after another analyst cut his expectations for the world's largest real estate broker; saying he feels the commercial real estate market will weaken.

Congress Probes Mattel's Recall Alerts

Mattel's Chief Executive Robert Eckert is expected to testify in separate congressional hearings the next two weeks about procedures the company used to alert federal regulators about major recalls.

Container Volumes at Ports Near Record

Container volumes through local seaports neared a record in August despite weakening housing and auto markets nationally.

Countrywide to Slash up to 12,000 Jobs

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Friday afternoon that it is planning on cutting up to 12,000 jobs, mainly from its subprime and Alt-A sectors.

Molina Enters Missouri With Acquisition

Molina Healthcare Inc. said Friday that it has agreed to acquire Mercy CarePlus for about $74 million, gaining entry into the Missouri market.

Big Movers

In a week marred with credit concerns, disappointing home sales data and a sliding commercial real estate market, the Los Angeles Business Journal's index of the 200 largest public companies took a hit, losing 2 percent for the week. Only 60 of the 200 co

Guitar Center Can Vote on Acquisition

Guitar Center Inc. can still hold a vote of shareholders on Sept. 18 to seek approval of its $63-a-share acquisition offer from buyout firm Bain Capital Partners LLC, a judge ruled Friday.

IndyMac Warns of Loss, Cuts Jobs

IndyMac Bancorp Inc. said Friday it may swing to a loss in the upcoming quarter and is cutting its workforce by 10 percent as it expects to sell fewer loans into a balky secondary market and as it cuts back on making riskier loans.

Thursday, September 6

Farmers Agrees to Refund, Fines

Farmers Insurance will refund $1.4 million to thousands of California homeowners and also agreed to pay $2 million in penalties to settle complaints the company overcharged policyholders.

Daily Briefs

Dunn-Edwards Names New COO; Cogent Reaches Deal With UPEK; CytRx CFO Quits; IPC Hospitalist Plans IPO.

AeroVironment Posts Strong Q1

AeroVironment on Thursday reported first-quarter net income of $3.8 million (18 cents per share), much more than the $1.4 million (9 cents per share) the company reported for the same period a year earlier.

Korn/Ferry's Q1 Earnings Miss Estimates

Shares in Korn/Ferry International slipped nearly 7 percent Thursday after the company reported strong first quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates.

Fight May Ensue Over VA Site's Future

Veterans, elected officials and residents are bracing for a contentious meeting today that could help decide if parts of the sprawling West Los Angeles VA campus could eventually be owned by private entities.

Group Wants Tesco Promises in Writing

Not a single Fresh & Easy market has opened in Southern California, but British owner Tesco is already under pressure from community groups to live up to promises to pay decent wages, provide affordable health benefits and reduce greenhouse gases.

Countrywide Cuts 900 Jobs

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Wednesday night that it is cutting 900 more jobs as the company cuts costs and tightens its belt amid dropping lending volumes and rising defaults.

Wednesday, September 5

Virco Shares Surge on Earnings

Shares in Virco Manufacturing Corp. surged more than 33 percent Wednesday after the Torrance-based furniture maker reported double digit growth in profits and sales for the second quarter.

RadNet Buys Victorville Imaging Centers

RadNet Inc. said Wednesday that it has acquired Valley Imaging Center Inc. and its three imaging centers for $3.3 million plus the assumption of approximately $1.2 million of debt.

Stocks Drop for Lenders, Homebuilders

Shares in local mortgage lenders and homebuilders fell sharply Wednesday as jittery investors unloaded stocks after more ominous housing data was reported.

OSI Projects First Quarter Loss

OSI Systems Inc. reported double-digit growth in both profit and sales in its fourth quarter Wednesday, but its shares lost 17 percent after it warned investors to expect a first quarter loss.

Amgen Shares Up on Senate Resolution

Shares of biotechnology company Amgen Inc. rose Wednesday following a move by the U.S. Senate to pass a resolution requesting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reconsider a reimbursement decision on anemia drugs.

Movie Unions Try to Thwart Subsidies

A coalition of entertainment industry workers is asking the U.S. government to put the brakes on Hollywood production in Canada.

Report: L.A. Worker Confidence Falls

The mortgage and credit market meltdown hit Main Street last month as L.A. worker confidence declined markedly.

Container Fee Bill Tabled

At the urging of the governor, State Sen. Alan Lowenthal's controversial container-fee bill has been tabled until next year.

Countrywide Finds No. 1 Spot Isn't Easy

How could Countrywide Financial veer so badly off course? For years, the Calabasas, Calif., mortgage lender was considered the shrewdest, toughest player in the industry, with its No. 1 market share as proof.

LAX Hotel Workers Sue Over Tips

Employees at eight hotels near Los Angeles International Airport filed class action lawsuits in L.A. Superior Court claiming the hotels violated a city law requiring LAX area hotels to pay employees all tips and services fees collected on their behalf.

Upgrades Lift ValueClick's Shares

Shares in ValueClick Inc. rose more than 4 percent Wednesday after analysts upgraded the online advertising services company, calling it a bargain.

CB Richard Ellis Shares Lose Nearly 10%

Shares in CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. closed down 9.3 percent Wednesday after analysts suggested commercial real estate was set to decrease in value.

Tuesday, September 4

Daily Briefs

Ixia appointes new COO.

Computer Sciences Lands Air Force Deal

Computer Sciences Corp. said Tuesday that it was awarded a contract from the U.S. Air Force valued as much as $820 million.

Feds, Mattel Clash Over Disclosures

Amid two high-profile toy recalls this summer, Mattel Inc. has said its highest priority is protecting children by pulling defective products off store shelves as soon as hazards emerge.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre Sold

Grauman's Chinese Theatre, a Hollywood landmark that attracts millions of tourists each year to its outdoor courtyard where generations of movie stars left their hand and footprints, has been purchased by Hollywood's largest commercial landlord.

Anemia Drug Case to Begin

Roche Holding AG and Amgen Inc. are set to begin duking it out in court today over the once lucrative but now troubled U.S. market for anemia drugs.

Northrop Lands $462 Million Contract

Northrop Grumman Corp. was awarded a $462-million modernization contract for the U.S. Army's RC-12 Guardrail precision targeting and intelligence platform.

Countrywide Names New Risk Officer

Countrywide Financial Corp. said it has appointed Jess Lederman the company's new chief risk officer.

Mattel Announces 3rd China Recall

Mattel Inc. announced its third recall of toys made in China Tuesday, saying more than 800,000 toys could possibly be contaminated.

Monday, September 3

Korean Bank Exec Is Ready for Retirement

75-year-old Saehan Bank Chief Executive Benjamin Hong says he's ready to get on with his retirement and consulting practice.

Ground Zero Cooks Up Contract for Sizzler Advertising

Ground Zero has a big new client on its plate: Sizzler USA, the steakhouse chain with more than 300 restaurants nationwide.

Dinosaurs or Digs With New Dimensions?

The new downtown L.A. Live facility is causing the Shrine Auditorium, the Forum and other older venues to rethink their strategies.

Suits Could Take a Toll on Dole

Dole Food Co. is defending itself against the claims of Nicaraguan plantation workers allegedly left sterile by a pesticide. And more trials loom.

Jockology 101

Fox is about to launch a sports reality show that uses scientific analysis to demystify athletic prowess.

Magazine Publisher Specializes In the Worlds of Paws and Jaws

A publisher convinced veterinarians to give him their secret client list to make his pet magazine a success.

Andean Outpost

North South Studios might seem like another Hollywood-based media firm, except 92 percent of its employees are outsourced not to Asia, but to Lima, Peru.

Wonder Baked by Labor Strife, Competition

Interstate Bakeries says its decision to pull Wonder Bread from Southern California was due to the high cost of doing business here and union complications.

It's Boom Time for Busy L.A. Builders

High-rise condo construction, new rail lines and hospital retrofits have created a building boom in Los Angeles County.

Well-Financed Web Site Targets Self-Help Crowd

PeopleJam Inc., a Brentwood-based Web site, will cater to Internet users looking for romantic, spiritual or health advice.

Suite Deal

Competition in the luxury hotel business is getting sharper as Peninsula Beverly Hills superstar Ali Kasikci jumps to a new rival.

Guess Shares Slide After Strong Q2

Shares in Guess Inc. tumbled nearly 7 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday after the retailer reported big surges in profit and sales and upped its annual guidance.