Stories for January 2013

Thursday, January 31

Oxy’s Quarter Beats Expectations

Shares of Occidental Petroleum Corp rose more than 3 percent on Thursday after the company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit.

Green Dot’s Quarter Better Than Expected

Shares of Green Dot Corp. rose more than 4 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday after the prepaid debit card provider reported solid fourth-quarter revenue growth.

Markets Mixed at Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 50 points to 13,861. The Nasdaq fell less than 1 point to 3,142. The S&P 500 fell 4 points to 1,498. The LABJ Stock Index rose less than 1 point to 144.

Start Engine Graduates Fourth Class of Startups

Demo-day season in Los Angeles continued Wednesday with the unveiling of the latest companies from Westwood accelerator Start Engine.

Ad Tech Firm Opens U.S. Headquarters in Pasadena

Glow Digital Media, a London ad tech company, announced Thursday that it is opening its U.S. headquarters in Pasadena.

Beckham to Join French Soccer Club

David Beckham, who left the Los Angeles Galaxy last month, is moving to French soccer heavyweights Paris Saint Germain, sources told the BBC and Associated Press today.

Burglars Hit Homes of Times Subscribers

Four men have been arrested on suspicion of burglarizing the homes of Los Angeles Times newspaper subscribers who were on vacation, the Times reports. One of the suspects allegedly obtained lists of subscribers who had submitted vacation holds.

Gas Prices Rise Sharply in L.A. County

The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County made its largest increase since Oct. 6, rising by 3.9 cents before settling at $3.85, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Chevron Hit with Record Cal-OSHA Fine

California safety officials ordered Chevron Corp. to pay a record-high fine of nearly $1 million for safety violations that led to a massive fire last summer at a refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles Times reports.

BlackBerry Launch Greeted with Downgrades

The unveiling of the long-delayed line of BlackBerry smartphones failed to impress Wall Street analysts, with at least three downgrading the company's stock, Reuters reports. The U.S. release date hasn’t been set and the price that may be too high, Bloomberg News reports.

Super Bowl Ads Make Online Debuts

The willingness of consumers to watch ads on social media is rewriting the Super Bowl playbook for Madison Avenue, the New York Times reports. Marketers and agencies are deciding that it’s better to give up the benefits of surprising viewers during the game in favor of gaining additional attention before.

Small Firms Say LinkedIn Works, Twitter Doesn't

Six out of 10 small-business owners believe social-media tools are valuable to their company's growth -- but most aren't impressed by Twitter, a Wall Street Journal survey reports. Professional-networking service LinkedIn fared much better.

Liberation from the Size Tag

Despite the efforts of MIT mathematicians, sizing algorithms and other measurement technology, the apparel industry is no closer to a consistent sizing system than decades ago. But a number of new apparel brands are using the Internet to offer more flexible sizing, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Law School Applications Fall as Costs Rise, Jobs Vanish

Law school applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of employment upon graduation, the New York Times reports.

A Surprise at ‘American Idol’ Long Beach Audition

A Surprise at ‘American Idol’ Long Beach Audition "American Idol" is supposed to be a show for singers of all different races, religions, genders, shapes and sizes. And during Wednesday’s Long Beach audition episode, indeed it was: Diminutive Matheus Fernandes wowed the judges with a huge voice, reports Yahoo's Reality Rocks blog.

Markets Fall This Morning

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 21 points to 13,899. The Nasdaq fell 3 points to 3,139. The S&P 500 fell nearly 5 points to 1,497.

Wednesday, January 30

Avery Finds New Buyer for Consumer Products Unit

Following a failed deal with 3M, Avery Dennison Corp. on Wednesday said that it signed a contract with a Canadian company to sell its office and consumer products unit.

Costs Hurt Health Net’s Quarter

Health Net Inc.’s profit plummeted in the fourth-quarter as the managed-care provider was hurt by litigation costs and other expenses.

L.A. Hotel Downtown to Become a Hyatt Regency

Chinese hotel ownership group Shenzhen New World Group Co., which owns the L.A. Hotel Downtown on Figueroa Street, said that it will spend $20 million to covert the independent hotel into a Hyatt Regency.

Markets Down at Close

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 44 points to 13,910. The Nasdaq fell 11 points to 3,141. The S&P 500 fell 6 points to 1,502. The LABJ Stock Index fell less than 1 point to 143.

Marina Del Rey Startup Helps Retailers Tap Into Social

Since launching publicly last spring, Social Annex says it now reaches more than 500 million consumers and drives more than $10 million in new revenue for its clients each month.

GDP Unexpectedly Contracts in Fourth Quarter

U.S. economic momentum screeched to a halt in the final months of 2012, as lawmakers struggled to reach a budget deal and businesses pared inventories, the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press report.

RIM Now Named BlackBerry, Launches New System

Research in Motion this morning introduced its new operating system, and in a surprising move, also announced that the company's name would now be BlackBerry, CNBC reports. A Wall Street Journal review notes that new BlackBerry 10 handsets reinvent the brand by losing the famous keyboard for one unit and offering a new user interface. Meanwhile, CNet says a new poll indicates that while people are intrigued, only 1 in 8 would consider a new BlackBerry device.

Villaraigosa Cast as Possible Transportation Secretary

The departure of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood raised new questions over what Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would do if he is offered the job – either now or after July 1, when his term as mayor expires, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Bodies Pile Up as Zucker Puts His Stamp on CNN

The Jeff Zucker era at CNN has begun with a cascade of personnel moves designed to overhaul the ailing network, the Hollywood Reporter reports. Mary Matalin, James Carville, Bill Bennett and others are being shown the door as the cable network looks to break more Hollywood news and move more heavily into sports and travel.

McClendon Out at Chesapeake

Chesapeake Energy founder and Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon has announced he’s stepping down, the MarketPlace Morning Report reports. Forbes says the news caused shares of the nation’s No. 2 producer of natural gas to spike because a takeover of the company is more likely. Business Insider looks at McClendon's rise and fall.

Is Herbalife Planning Campaign Against Critic?

Herbalife Ltd. has obtained the rights to domain names such as therealbillackman.com and billackman.net, a sign that the Los Angeles nutritional products company may launch a public campaign against one of its biggest critics, billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times report.

Student Loan Balances Are Up, and So Are Delinquencies

A new study on student loans by one of the nation's largest consumer credit rating agencies offers more evidence of the financial squeeze facing recent college graduates, CNBC reports. A combination of high unemployment and rising debt is leading to a big jump in delinquencies for federally-backed student loans.

A Sobering Stat for College Grads

Here's bad news for new college grads saddled with thousands of dollars in student loans. A Center for College Affordability and Productivity survey indicates that nearly half of recent college graduates are working at jobs that don't require a college diploma, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Legislation Proposed to Implement Health Care Reform

The state Legislature this week opened a special session on health care, pushing forward with sweeping proposals that should help California implement President Obama's reform initiative, the Los Angeles Times and Southern California Public Radio report. The measures include a major expansion of Medi-Cal, the state's public insurance program for the poor.

Kaiser Tops State’s Health Insurance Market

Nonprofit health care giant Kaiser Permanente had a 40 percent share of California's $59-billion health insurance market for employers and individuals, according a Wall Street analyst's study of 2011 data, the Los Angeles Times reports. Anthem Blue Cross came in second.

Could Water Be the Next Big Asset Class?

IBM is partnering with Waterfund to create the first-ever water cost index, the Daily Ticker at Yahoo Finance reports. It will estimate the cost of producing water globally for 25 percent of the world’s GDP, and allow the creation of financial products to invest in the water sector.

‘Failure Wall’ Lets Workers Learn from Mistakes

Jeff Stibel, head of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. in Malibu, believes that you have to be willing to fail to succeed. So he has all of his employees write on a Failure Wall, part of the firm's unusual corporate culture, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Markets Open Mixed

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 7.5 points to 13,947. The Nasdaq was up 2 points to 3,156. The S&P 500 fell 1 point to 1,507.

Tuesday, January 29

Grandpoint, NCal Abandon Merger

Grandpoint Capital Inc. and NCal Bancorp have called off their planned merger, but did not give a reason.

L.A. City Council Places Medical Marijuana Measure on Ballot

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to place a third initiative regulating medical marijuana dispensaries on the May ballot.

BBCN Profit Beats Expectations

Koreatown banking giant BBCN Bancorp Inc. posted fourth-quarter profit above Wall Street expectations.

Hotel Media Firm Restructures with Aid of Colony, DirecTV

LodgeNet Interactive Corp., a South Dakota specialty cable TV provider, has filed a reorganization plan that involves two Los Angeles-area firms, Colony Capital LLC and DirecTV.

Markets Close Mixed

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 72 points to 13,954. The Nasdaq fell less than 1 point to 3,154. The S&P 500 rose nearly 8 points to 1,508. The LABJ Stock Index rose less than 1 point to 144.

Rubicon Project Preps for Growth With Executive Appointments

As Rubicon Project looks to add more than 100 new employees this year and expand its business through mergers and acquisitions, the company has added two new executives with longtime technology experience.

GOOD Worldwide Hosts Hiring Contest

After the five-week Coding for GOOD contest, GOOD named its winner Monday afternoon. Brian Bonus, a Los Angeles television editor, has been offered a full time engineering position with the company.

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Jody Sherman, Ecomom Founder and L.A. Entrepreneur, Dies at 47

The Los Angeles tech community is mourning the loss of entrepreneur Jody Sherman. Sherman, the founder and chief executive of Ecomom, a site for selling healthy children’s products, passed away Monday, according to a Facebook post from his wife Kerri. She gave no cause of death.

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Mayoral Candidates Mixed on Business

At a Monday night debate, the five leading candidates for L.A. mayor promised to eliminate the gross receipts tax, streamline the permitting process and focus on creating green jobs, but they withheld full support on other business issues, such as LAX improvement and opposition to living wage laws, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

Quest to Create a Bionic Eye Gets Clearer

Restoring sight to the blind has proved challenging, but a new technology combining an eye implant and video-camera-enabled glasses may soon be available in the United States, one of them coming from Second Sight Medical Products Inc. of Sylmar, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Warner Bros. New CEO Brings Digital Know-How

Time Warner Inc. named its home video and digital chief, Kevin Tsujihara, as the new chief executive of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Variety and the Los Angeles Times report.

Biotech Firms Lobby States to Limit Generics

In statehouses around the country, Amgen and Genentech are proposing bills that would restrict the ability of pharmacists to substitute generic versions of biological drugs for brand name products, the New York Times reports.

Former Union Exec Convicted of Stealing

Tyrone Freeman, who once represented about 190,000 homecare workers in Los Angeles, has been found guilty on of stealing tens of thousands of dollars, the Los Angeles Times and Southern California Public Radio report.

As Music Streaming Grows, Royalties Slow

Streaming subscription services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube pay only fractions of a cent to record companies and publishers each time a song is played, and the relative trickle of money that makes its way to artists is causing anxiety, according to the New York Times.

Will the New BlackBerry Win Back Corporate Customers?

As more companies allow employees to bring in their own personal smartphones to access email, Research In Motion faces a challenge as it rolls out its newest operating system and two new phones that will run off it, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Proponents of Pot Shop Measure Shift Support

A coalition of medical marijuana activists that fought to put an ordinance regulating pot shops on the May ballot are abandoning their own initiative in favor of a city-backed ballot measure that seeks similar regulations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Barnes & Noble May Become Less Bricks-and-Mortar

Barnes & Noble will shut up to a third of its brick-and-mortar bookstores over the next decade as reading habits change and digital publications evolve, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Falling Down on the Job?

The idea of "active workstations" sounds great. Why not burn a few calories at a treadmill desk while you work, or strengthen your abs on a giant rubber ball while returning emails? But as the Wall Street Journal reports, as these products have grown in use, so has feedback on their downsides.

Markets Mixed

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 60 points to 13,942. The Nasdaq fell 1 point to 3,153. The S&P 500 rose 5 points to 1,505.

L.A. Mayoral Candidates Mixed on Commitment to Business

Speaking at a debate on jobs and the economy Monday night, the five leading candidates for L.A. mayor promised to eliminate the gross receipts tax on business, streamline the city’s cumbersome permitting process and focus on creating green jobs if elected.

Monday, January 28

GrubWithUs Launches App for Last Minute Dining

Today GrubWithUs in Venice rolled out something called GrubTonight. It’s essentially an app for people who like apps.

Improving Economy Boosts LAX Traffic

The number of passengers traveling through Los Angeles International Airport in 2012 continued its upward swing, as airlines added international flights and the Southern California economy improved.

Veggie Grill Raises $20 Million

Veggie Grill, a Santa Monica-headquartered fast-casual vegetarian restaurant chain, said that it had raised $20 million in a fourth equity funding round that will be used to open new restaurants.

Loss Widens at International Rectifier

Shares of International Rectifier Corp. fell in after-hours trading Monday after the chipmaker reported a substantially larger quarterly loss, largely due to higher costs associated with closing a manufacturing facility and declining revenue.

Markets Close Mixed

In Monday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 14 points at 13,881 The Nasdaq rose nearly 5 points to 3,154. The S&P 500 fell 3 points to 1,500. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 143.

First-Class Postage Rate Marches Higher

Another rise in stamp prices comes as first-class mail volume is plummeting, underscoring the dilemma the near-bankrupt Postal Service faces, the Wall Street Journal reports. The price of sending a first-class letter in the United States rose a penny Sunday to 46 cents.

Real Estate Interests Spend to Pass Sales Tax Hike

Developers and real estate companies are pouring money into a campaign to raise L.A.’s sales tax by a half percent, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Among them is L.A. Live owner Anschutz Entertainment Group, which donated $100,000 to the campaign.

Major Mixed-Use Plan Proposed for Fashion District

Ambitious plans have been unveiled for a 3.3-million-square-foot development that would bring a college, hotel, offices and apartments to the fashion district of downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Land for Bullet Train Route Still Not Acquired

Construction of California's high-speed rail network is supposed to start in just six months, but the state hasn't acquired a single acre along the route and faces what officials are calling a challenging schedule to assemble hundreds of parcels needed in the Central Valley, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Rubio Takes on CEQA

State Sen. Michael Rubio says he first wondered if something were wrong with the California Environmental Quality Act during his days as a Kern County supervisor, when he saw it used to slow wind and solar projects he considered green by their very nature. Now he is taking on fellow Democrats on the issue, moving to rewrite the California Environmental Quality Act, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Mattel Revives Max Steel for a New Media Age

Not many toys get a second shot at success. Once interest wanes, toy makers often are quick to move to the next franchise. So when Mattel decided to revive its dormant Max Steel line of action figures in the United States, it had a rare opportunity to re-examine the old marketing strategy for the brand, the New York Times reports.

St. John's Fights Failed Nurse Recruitment Effort

St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica paid a recruiter in England nearly $700,000, but no nurses ever arrived. The hospital, which has sued, says it was the victim of fraud and bribery, the Los Angeles Times reports.

How Corporate America 'Squeezes' Out Its Survival

After four years of belt-tightening, American companies are good at squeezing more profit out of every dollar of sales – a skill that chief executives regard as critical in the face of an uncertain economy, Reuters reports.

Pending Home Sales Fall Due to Dwindling Supply

Signed contracts to buy existing homes fell 4.3 percent last month, according the National Association of Realtors, missing analysts expectations of a 1 percent gain. Realtors say it's not lack of demand, but supply that pushed the numbers down, CNBC reports.

Can Small Biz Benefit in Health Care Overhaul?

For small businesses that often operate on the edge with slim profit margins and few employees, the effect of the federal health reform law is only now unfolding. And perhaps no place is that more apparent than Southern California, where smaller enterprises of all kinds dominate the economic landscape, the Los Angeles Times reports.

'Wall Street' Flees N.Y. for Tax-Free Florida

An increasing number of Wall Street financial firms, especially private equity and hedge funds, are fed up with New York’s sky-high city and state tax rates and are relocating to the business-friendly climate in Florida, the New York Post reports. Palm Beach even recently opened an entire office dedicated to luring finance hot shots down south.

Markets Mixed in Morning Trading

In Monday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 16 points to 13,880. The Nasdaq was up 5 points to 3,155. The S&P 500 fell 3 points to 1,500.

Restaurant Franchiser May Sweeten Investors’ Pot

DINING: DineEquity stock up amid talk of buyback or regular dividend.

DINING – Talk about a share buyback or regular dividend has investors filling up on stock of Glendale restaurant franchiser DineEquity.

Pizza Franchisers Look to Expand Pieces of Pie

DINING: Blaze co-founders sign two deals to open eight SoCal locations.

After launching two build-your-own artisan pizza restaurants last summer in Pasadena and Irvine, Wetzel’s Pretzels co-founders Rick and Elise Wetzel are lighting a flame under expansion plans for their Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza concept.

Stations’ Yuletide Ratings Dip Seen as Short-Lived

Radio: Usual leaders lost ground to rivals’ switch to Christmas tunes.

A holiday season coup by stations that programmed Christmas music ended in ratings casualties at some of L.A.’s most popular stations – though a return to normalcy is expected soon enough.

Taking A Seat?

RETAIL: Luxeyard’s future cloudy as money dries up for online furniture vendor.

RETAIL – Slower sales and depressed stock might pull the plug on online furniture dealer Luxeyard.

Trying To Push Right Buttons

L.A. AppShow helps creators connect to potential customers.

The L.A. AppShow works to put developers of mobile and tablet products in touch with potential customers.

Miracle Mile Landlords Think Creative and Raise Asking Rents

Reports - The Wilshire Corridor experienced a relatively flat fourth quarter in 2012, prompting landlords to raise rental rates by a penny a foot.

Restaurants and Hotels Move In But Vacancy Rate Still Inches Up

Reports - The Hollywood office market fared slightly better in the fourth quarter than the third, though a quick glance at the numbers might have one believe otherwise.

Absorption, Give-Back Rates Balance Out in Slow Fourth Quarter

REPORTS – After two down quarters, the downtown L.A. office market stabilized during the fourth quarter as fewer firms downsized and the volume of lease deals dropped.

Modest Gains Reflect Post-Recession Realities

REPORTS – Main events in Los Angeles County’s commercial and industrial submarkets.

Building Up

Development projects in downtown Long Beach.

Development projects in downtown Long Beach.

data bank

Calendar of Events and Conventions

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from labusinessjournal.com and other sources

PORT PROJECT: The Port of Long Beach’s Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved a $1.2 billion budget to turn two aging shipping terminals into one megaterminal to handle more than 2 million additional containers.

Plastic Surgeon Makes Cut With Industry Magazine

PUBLISHING: Periodical taps Marcel Daniels to share his business tips.

Dr. Marcel Daniels is scheduled to be a magazine centerfold next month, but not to show off the results of his physical workout regime.

Pace Setters

Accelerators quickly establish value in driving startups

TECHNOLOGY – Accelerators have quickly established their role in rolling out startups.

regional report

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

Payroll Action: Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, an entertainment industry payroll provider in Burbank, has been acquired by ZelnickMedia, a New York private-equity firm. Cast & Crew, with services that include managing payroll, accounting and production incentives, had been owned by Abry Partners, a Boston private-equity firm. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Not Suited for Wall Street?

Now that Monrovia prepaid debit card company Green Dot Corp. is operating a bank – it announced the launch of online-only GoBank earlier this month – it looks as if Chief Executive Steven Streit might have to make a trip to Brooks Brothers.

Sweet Taste Of Victory

Girl Scout camped out at stores in her bid to sell the most cookies.

NON-PROFIT – Kristina Nelson out-boxed her Girl Scout rivals to sell the most cookies in greater Los Angeles.

Dry-Cleaning With a Hook

CleanCierge’s laundry lockers offer at-home drop-off and pickup.

LAUNDRY – CleanCierge.com co-founders expect business to keep picking up for their drop-off dry-cleaning service.

Long View in Long Beach

Special Report: Real Estate Quarterly

Shoemaker Opts To Sell Following String of Missteps

FOOTWEAR – Out-of-step K-Swiss becomes shoo-in with investors after acquisition by South Korean company.

Private Sector To Guide L.A.?

Government: City plans non-profit to boost business.

GOVERNMENT – Business leaders publicly back city of L.A.’s proposed privately run agency to push economic development.

Project Stalls In Parking Lot

Real Estate: Saks moves to protect precious spaces.

Fear of losing parking spaces drives Saks to try to put brakes on sale of lot across the street.

Let Loose in Long Beach

SPECIAL REPORT: Updated zoning plan helps draw developers downtown in L.A. County’s second- biggest city.

Changes to Long Beach’s zoning codes helped turn the city’s downtown into a center of attraction for developers.

Shift in Italian Policy Boosts Bioresin Firm

Struggling Cereplast bags much-needed resin sales after Italy cracks down on nonbiodegradable packaging.

Analysts Give Drug Maker Shot in Arm

BIOTECH: Amgen retains their confidence despite dip in quarterly earnings.

Some analysts give Amgen a healthy prognosis despite industry giant’s drop in fourth quarter earnings.

Historic Residential Property Trades at Lofty Price

Real Estate: Art deco building, taken back by bank, sold for $30 million.

South Korean investors move into downtown L.A. with pricey deal for loft property.

‘Shark’ Bite Tough to Swallow

COMMENT – Charles Crumpley is troubled that the producers of “Shark Tank” take a bite out of contestants.

Slowdown in Port Activity Puts Brakes on Commercial Sales, Leases

Reports - Vacancy rates in the South Bay’s commercial market were virtually flat in the fourth quarter as businesses held back on moves and expansion plans.

Medical Industry Acquisitions Give Office Market Shot in Arm

Reports - Overbuilt in the years leading up to the housing crisis and recession, the Santa Clarita Valley’s office market has been nearly one-quarter vacant for most of the past several years.

Vacancies Dip Marketwide but Disney’s Exodus Looms in Burbank

Reports - There was brisk fourth quarter activity in the Tri-Cities market overall, but Pasadena was the clear winner with 233,108 square feet taken off the market.

Hungry Buyers Hunt for Deals While Leasing Activity Dries Up

Reports - Pent-up demand from manufacturing and distribution companies drove sales in the San Gabriel Valley industrial market in the fourth quarter, but the area saw little leasing activity.

Economic, Tax Concerns Spur Some Owners to Sell at End of Year

Reports - Leasing activity in the San Fernando Valley continued to bump along the bottom in 2012, but the “fiscal cliff” and looming potential for a capital gains tax hike boosted fourth quarter sales in the market.

Santa Monica Paces Market, L.A. County With Top Asking Rents

Reports - Asking rents in the Westside office market rose to their highest level in three years in the fourth quarter, driven by continued demand from tech, media and entertainment businesses.

Friday, January 25

Schiffer and Gold Families Depart from 99 Cents Only

Deep discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores has announced that three top executives – Chief Executive Eric Schiffer, Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Gold and Executive Vice President of Special Projects Howard Gold – are no longer employed by the company.

K-Swiss Investor Sues Over Company’s Takeover

A K-Swiss Inc. investor has sued the company over its pending $170 million acquisition by South Korean retailer E.Land World Ltd., alleging that executives of the sports brand should have been able to get more money for shareholders.

Jacobs Engineering Hits 52-Week High

Shares of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. ended the week at a 52-week high, as the engineering and construction services company continued to benefit from a better-than-expected quarterly report earlier this week.

The Week’s Biggest Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies closed up for the week as the broader markets reacted positively to strong fourth quarter corporate earnings and a temporary deal to extend the nation’s debt limit.

Markets Up at Friday Close

In Friday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 71 points to 13,896. The Nasdaq rose 19 points to 3,150. The S&P 500 rose 8 points to 1,502. The LABJ Stock Index rose 1 point to 143.

Belkin Grows Home Network Business With Linksys Acquisition

Los Angeles is known for its ecommerce and content companies, but the city’s consumer electronics industry just got a little bigger. Playa Vista consumer electronics manufacturer Belkin International Inc. announced late Thursday that it has acquired Linksys, the home networking unit of Cisco Systems Inc.

Gobbler Raises $1.5 Million

Chris Kantrowitz cleared out his bank account in 2010 and went into business with his sister, Kristen, to develop Gobbler, a software platform for storing and sharing music files through the cloud. The product has become so popular with musicians that Gobbler announced Thursday a $1.5 million funding round led by One Republic singer and songwriter Ryan Tedder, musician and actor Jared Leto and music manager Troy Carter.

Court: Obama Recess Appointments Unconstitutional

President Obama violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill vacancies on a labor-relations panel, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled today, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but if it stands, it means hundreds of decisions issued by the board over more than a year are invalid.

Court Cuts $172 Million from Bratz Doll Verdict

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Mattel Inc. doesn't have to pay $172 million to MGA Entertainment Inc. to settle a trade secrets theft claim over Bratz dolls because a key claim should have been dismissed before trial, the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press report. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that both sides are claiming legal wins.

Proposed Gun Controls Fuel Sales

Sales of guns and ammo have ramped up dramatically in California following last month's Connecticut school shooting and subsequent calls for tightened gun-control measures, the Los Angeles Daily News reports, with manufacturers and retailers scrambling to keep up with the demand. A group led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein unveiled legislation Thursday to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines nationwide. Here's how the proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 compares with California's ban, the oldest and one of the toughest in the nation.

L.A.'s Neighborhood Councils Flex Muscles

A recent fight over a proposed $3 billion bond issue for street repairs illustrated the growing influence of neighborhood councils in Los Angeles city government, as they exerted enough influence to keep the measure off the ballot for now, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

China's Lenovo Eyes Blackberry Maker

A senior Lenovo executive said that the Chinese computer maker may consider Research in Motion as a takeover target, which sent the Blackberry maker's shares up just a week before it launches a line of redesigned smartphones, Reuters reports.

Bawdy CAA Party at Sundance Shocks Guests, Clients

Creative Artists Agency's party at the Sundance Film Festival, featuring scantily clad performers and sex toys, has provoked a public relations backlash, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some CAA clients found the party so shocking that they said it made them embarrassed to be associated with the agency.

Anschutz Plan Would Bring Us Wind Power

Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, who has pushed to bring a football stadium to Los Angeles, also wants to bring wind power to California, the Los Angeles Times reports. A plan being marketed in Sacramento would bring the state’s utilities thousands of megawatts of electricity from a massive wind farm in Wyoming being developed by the entertainment and energy mogul who also developed L.A. Live and Staples Center. California officials are skeptical.

NTSB: Dreamliner's Safety Systems Failed

After investigating a fire that broke out on Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner passenger jet, the National Transportation Safety Board says that backup protections in the aircraft's lithium-ion batteries and electronics systems failed, the New York Times reports. Air-safety experts said the FAA isn’t likely to lift its order grounding the 787 quickly, given the NTSB’s lack of progress toward finding the root cause of the battery problems, the Seattle Times reports.

San Bernardino County Abandons Controversial Mortgage Plan

San Bernardino County and two of its cities abandoned a plan that would use eminent domain to seize troubled mortgages and write down debt for homeowners. The decision strikes a blow to an idea that garnered national attention as a potential — if unconventional and controversial — solution to the mortgage crisis, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Fight to Unseat Apple's iPhone Intensifies

The iPhone ended the year with a blowout quarter in the U.S. market. But underneath the big numbers at the largest U.S. carriers are signs Apple Inc. faces a rapidly changing marketplace that could erode its dominance, the Wall Street Journal reports. Also, the San Jose Mercury News said that after announcing record profits – but still disappointing many analysts with this week's lackluster holiday-quarter earnings report – Apple's stock was dumped by so many people so quickly on Thursday that the scramble tripped a Nasdaq circuit breaker.

AT&T to Acquire Air Spectrum from Verizon Wireless

AT&T; Inc. has agreed to acquire airwaves from larger rival Verizon Wireless for $1.9 billion, which will help the second-biggest U.S. wireless carrier build out its next-generation network, Bloomberg News reports. The 700-megahertz spectrum covers 42 million people in 18 states, including California, Texas and New York, AT&T; said today.

Cohen: Can Bikers, Zombies and Amazon Save TV?

Can big budget television production still be profitable in an environment where consumers are increasingly able to avoid commercials and cable bills? Jeff B. Cohen, a partner at the Beverly Hills law firm of Cohen Gardner LLP (and a former child star) explores how destabilizing technology has created an opportunity for a number of non-traditional players to enter the space, CNBC reports.

Will Smart Machines Create a World Without Work?

If automation can unseat bus drivers, long-haul truckers, even cabbies, is any job safe?, asks Rice University computer scientist Moshe Vardi in the last day of an Associated Press series on the loss of middle-class jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of technology. Also, economists and officials at an AP debate today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland say a host of new training programs are needed to rebuild the job market.

Markets Up in Morning Trading

In Friday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 36 points to 13,862. The Nasdaq was up 13 points to 3,143. The S&P 500 rose 4 points to 1,498.

Thursday, January 24

City National’s Profit Falls Short of Expectations

City National Corp. reported 8 percent growth in fourth-quarter net income, but the profit was lower than Wall Street expected as L.A.’s largest local bank was adversely affected by lower interest rates.

OSI Shares Fall on Earnings

OSI Systems Inc. reported second-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ estimates as sales by its healthcare business shrunk on weakened demand for medical scanners in Europe.

Hanmi Reports Improved Quarter

The parent company of Koreatown’s Hanmi Bank reported a solid fourth quarter, with profit more than doubling over the same period a year ago as the bank paid out less interest and lost less cash to bad debts.

Markets Mixed at Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 46 points to 13,825. The Nasdaq fell 23 points to 3,130. The S&P 500 fell less than 1 point to 1,495 The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 142.

Obama Picks Mary Jo White to Lead SEC

President Barack Obama will nominate Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, sources tell the Associated Press and New York Times, tapping an attorney with broad experience in prosecuting white-collar crimes to lead an agency that has a central role in implementing Wall Street reform.

Optimistic State of the State Address Expected

Gov. Jerry Brown will deliver a State of the State address today that lays out an ambitious and optimistic policy agenda for a state he says is on the rebound, the Los Angeles Times reports.

WGA Ends Comedy Central Ban

The Writers Guild of America West has rescinded its Stop Work notice against Comedy Central’s production company two months after it was issued, the Hollywood Reporter reports. The move came as a result of an overall deal reached between the WGA and Central Productions.

Amgen Denies 'Special Deal' Accusation

Amgen Inc. is defending a change in Medicare payments included in the recent fiscal-cliff deal which benefits one of its drugs, and is pushing back against a new bill that aims to repeal that change, The Hill and New York Times report.

Gundlach: Apple 'A Broken Company'

Apple stock could be headed down to a level of $425 per share this quarter, DoubleLine Chief Executive Jeff Gundlach of Los Angeles told CNBC after the company reported disappointing earnings Wednesday.

California Unions Grow, Bucking Trend

The latest federal snapshot of the working class shows that unions’ ranks are thinning amid a backlash against organized labor and a still sputtering economy. But labor's ranks are on an upswing in California and a few nearby states in the Southwest, the Los Angeles Times reports. The reason: Latino workers.

Manufacturers Cutting White-Collar Jobs Now, Too

Manufacturers have been using technology to cut blue-collar jobs for years. Now, they're also targeting their white-collar workers, the Associated Press reports in the second day of its series on the loss of middle-class jobs in the wake of the Great Recession, and the role of technology.

Port of Long Beach Approves Budget for Middle Harbor Project

Port of Long Beach officials approved a $1.2 billion budget to turn an old pair of shipping terminals into one mega terminal that is expected to handle more than 2 million additional containers, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.

Factory Activity Gains Speed, Jobless Claims Drop

Factory activity advanced at its fastest pace in nearly two years this month and the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a five-year low last week, providing surprisingly strong signals on the economy's pulse, Reuters reports.

Innovation Is a Messy Business

The Boeing 787 is a flying collection of innovations, a favorite word in the global economy. But Boeing's current challenges offer a reminder that innovation — for all its value — doesn't come as easily as a catchphrase, the Wall Street Journal reports. It can get messy.

An Asset So Toxic They Called It ‘Nuclear Holocaust’

Documents released as part of a lawsuit against Morgan Stanley shed new light on what bankers knew at the height of the housing bubble and what they did with that secret knowledge, the New York Times reports.

Big Board Won't Sell Euronext to a Rival

NYSE Euronext has no intention of selling its European unit to a rival following a planned takeover by Intercontinental Exchange Inc., the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Odd Season: Good Earnings, Nervous CEOs

The fourth quarter earnings cavalcade has arrived, with major companies like Google, IBM and Texas Instruments exceeding Wall Street's expectations. Still, many corporations are tempering their earnings outlooks with more than a dollop of caution. CNBC reports that the pessimism underscores how, after four years of dark clouds stemming from the global financial pandemic, many executives are having a hard time buying into the idea of bluer skies.

Should Health Insurance Be Like Car Insurance?

Car insurance companies reward good behavior: Drivers with records free of 15-car pileups and tickets for driving 90 miles an hour in a 55 zone pay cheaper premiums. Health insurers, on the other hand, offer people little incentive to stay out of harm’s (and doctor’s) way. But a growing number of health advocates say the system would function better if bodies were treated more like Buicks, MarketWatch reports.

Junk Mail Gets Personal

A world of ubiquitous computers was supposed to be the death knell of dowdy industries like direct-mail marketing, but the reverse seems to be true, the Wall Street Journal reports. While Americans are sending a third less mail than they did 10 years ago, the junk mail business is actually thriving thanks to changes in databases, computing power and available storage.

Markets Mixed in Morning Activity

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 84 points to 13,863. The Nasdaq was down 5 points to 3,148. The S&P 500 rose 8 points to 1,500.

Wednesday, January 23

Higher Costs Hurt Amgen’s Quarter

Amgen Inc. reported a worse-than-expected 16 percent decline in fourth-quarter net income, as higher costs of marketing and production offset sales growth gains for many of its drugs.

Record Earnings for East West Bancorp

Growth in deposits, loans and credit quality helped East West Bancorp Inc. post record earnings last year, with profits up 15 percent over 2011.

DineEquity Addresses Pig Welfare

Glendale restaurant company DineEquity Inc., owner of IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants, announced Wednesday that it will eliminate the use of cramped pig cages in its pork supply chain by 2020.

Cereplast to Reduce Workforce

El Segundo bioplastics manufacturer Cereplast Inc. is reducing its workforce, giving some workers furloughs and adding new revenue.

Stocks Rise at Close

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 67 points to 13,779. The Nasdaq rose 10 points to 3,154. The S&P 500 rose 2 points to 1,494. The LABJ Stock Index rose less than 1 point to 142.

THQ’s Auction Ends in Division of Assets

Bidding for the assets of bankrupt video game publisher THQ ended Wednesday and resulted in a piecemeal sale of the company’s main titles and studios.

Extreme Music Launches Music Editing Tool

A Santa Monica music company is hoping that an expansion into music technology hits the right note with customers. Extreme Music, which has a library of original music that it licenses for films, television shows, commercials and video games, announced Wednesday the launch of its music editing tool, called Customix.

Burkle Considering Kings Purchase

Billionaire Ron Burkle and Bay Area investor Mark Mastrov are in serious discussions to team up on a bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and partner with the city of Sacramento on a plan to help finance a new downtown sports arena, sources tell the Sacramento Bee.

State Sees Revenue Bump After Tax Changes

After years of budget agony, California is seeing something strange this month: a heap of excess cash, the Sacramento Bee reports. The state is poised to finish January about $4 billion ahead of what forecasters expected in income taxes, the biggest one-month overage that state fiscal experts can recall in recent memory.

Dodgers Near TV Rights Deal with TWC

The Los Angeles Times follows on yesterday's report that the Los Angeles Dodgers have negotiated a long-term TV deal with Time Warner Cable that would pay the team $7 billion to $8 billion. The paper warns that the deal likely would likely mean bigger cable bills for all. It's also a blow to Fox Sports, the team's current broadcaster.

Councilmen Question LAX PR Contracts

Two Los Angeles council members want to know why a city oversight board approved spending nearly $4 million in taxpayer money for what they describe as public relations contracts at Los Angeles International Airport, the Los Angeles Times reports

Mickelson Regrets Airing Opinion on Taxes

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson said he should have kept his opinion to himself about how much he has to pay in state and federal taxes, the Associated Press reports. The four-time major champion earlier said higher taxes might lead to "drastic changes," such as moving from his native California, and they already have caused him to pull out of the San Diego Padres' new ownership group.

Dreamliner Fires Spark Doubts About Green Tech

When Federal Aviation Administration officials grounded Boeing's fleet of 787 Dreamliner jets last week due to unexplained battery fires, one of President Obama's favorite green energy technologies got another black eye, the Washington Examiner reports. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that data from a Dreamliner that made an emergency landing in Japan has shown no evidence that the battery was overcharged.

Deep Freeze Slides Toward the Northeast

The Upper Midwest remained locked in a deep freeze Wednesday as the bitter temperatures crept eastward, where at least one mountain resort warned it was too cold even to ski, the Associated Press reports.

WellPoint Profit Jumps 38 Percent

Anthem Blue Cross parent WellPoint Inc. said that its fourth-quarter earnings jumped 38 percent compared to a year earier, when it took a big hit from its Medicare Advantage business, the Associated Press reports. But the nation's second largest health insurer expects to make less this year resulting from the health care overhaul.

Microsoft May Back Dell Buyout

The effort to take Dell private has gained a prominent, if unusual, backer: Microsoft. The software giant is in talks to help finance a takeover bid for Dell that would exceed $20 billion, sources tell Bloomberg News and the New York Times.

J&J Aware of High Failure in Hip Implant

An internal analysis conducted by Johnson & Johnson in 2011 not long after it recalled a troubled hip implant estimated that the all-metal device would fail within five years in nearly 40 percent of patients who received it, according to court records in a trial expected to begin Friday in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, the New York Times reports.

Recession, Tech Kill Middle-Class Jobs

Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle-class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over. And the situation is even worse than it appears, according to the first in a series of stories from the Associated Press. Most of these jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well – obliterated by technology.

Coming Soon: More Phablets

The emerging line-up of super-sized Android "phablet" smartphones is set to expand this year with the launch of several new models, including one from South Korean maker LG Electronics, the Wall Street Journal reports. The paper also reports on new convertible PCs, which -- taking advantage of Windows 8's new touchscreen capabilities – attempt to function as both tablets and traditional laptops

Stocks Mixed This Morning

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 51 points to 13,763. The Nasdaq rose 10 points to 3,153. The S&P 500 fell 1 point to 1,492.

Tuesday, January 22

THQ Assets Up for Auction

Video game titles and development studios from bankrupt publisher THQ could have a new home by the end of the day Tuesday after the auction of the company’s assets.

Buzzmedia Bolsters Video Content With 'The Daily Buzz'

Hollywood has been buzzing about web video as companies move into town to produce shows specifically for YouTube. Now Buzzmedia, a Hollywood blog network focused on celebrity and music news, is swarming into the space as well.

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KB Home Partnership to Create Mortgage Company

KB Home has formed a partnership with a unit of Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. to offer mortgage services to KB Home customers.

Hot Topic CFO Resigns

Jim McGinty, Hot Topic Inc.’s chief financial officer, has resigned effective March 29.

Stocks Rise on Tuesday

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 63 points to 13,712. The Nasdaq rose 8 points to 3,143. The S&P 500 rose 7 points to 1,493. The LABJ Stock Index rose more than 1 point, or nearly 1 percent, to 141.53.

Report: Time Warner Cable to Carry Dodgers Games

Time Warner Cable Inc. has struck a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers to broadcast the Major League Baseball team’s games, sources toldBloomberg News on Tuesday. The games will be carried on a new regional sports network developed by Guggenheim Partners, which bought the Dodgers for $2.15 billion last year.

Tutor Sells Miramax Stake

In a move that gives more control of the independent film studio to investment firm Colony Capital and its chief Tom Barack, construction magnate Ron Tutor has sold his stake in Miramax, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Blockbuster to Close About 300 Stores

Blockbuster will shutter another 300 of its stores, or 35 percnt, as parent Dish Network seeks ways to breathe new life into the video rental chain, Variety and the Denver Post report. Englewood, Colo.-based Dish purchased Blockbuster in 2011 for $320 million and continues to stand behind the brand, which it sees as an opportunity to grow its video-on-demand business among its satellite TV subscribers.

Wal-Mart Toughens Supplier Policies

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is warning suppliers that it is adopting a “zero tolerance policy” for violations of its global sourcing standards, and will sever ties with any company that subcontracts work without disclosure, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Car Leasing Contract Criticized

L.A. County auditors find that a $1.75-million deal with Enterprise Rent-a-Car failed to create a “truly competitive” process but found no evidence of improper influence, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Return of Kim Dotcom

A year after New Zealander Kim Dotcom's controversial website, Megaupload, was shut by the FBI for alleged breach of copyright, the website owner is back with the launch of Mega, a new encrypted file-storage website, the Wall Street Journal reports. Dotcom was accused of operating a website used to pirate half a billion dollars in entertainment.

Armstrong Becomes 'Madoff on a Bike'

The fall of Lance Armstrong was as steep as the mountains he climbed en route to the Champs-Elysees and life as a global icon. He left a trail of destruction on the way up and on the way down, Bloomberg News reports.

LEDs Emerge as a Popular ‘Green’ Lighting

The lighting industry has finally come up with an energy-efficient replacement for the standard incandescent bulb that people actually seem to like: the LED bulb, the New York Times reports.

China’s One-Child Policy May End

China’s One-Child Policy May End China could relax its harsh one-child policy, Reuters reports, not only to maintain a younger workforce but also to increase consumption. A single child often must take care of two - and four in the case of married couples - retired parents, increasing the likelihood that working adults will save money for their old age rather than spend.

Obama’s Post-Crisis Presidency

It's easy to forget how bad things were the last time Barack Obama was inaugurated. Now he has new economic challenges, the Washington Post reports.

Stocks Open Mixed

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 3 points to 13,647. The Nasdaq fell 10 points to 3,124. The S&P 500 rose 3 points to 1,483.

Monday, January 21

Eric Lidow, Co-Founder of International Rectifier, Dies at 100

Eric Lidow, the co-founder and former chairman of El Segundo semiconductor manufacturer International Rectifier died Friday, according to the company. He was 100.

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Business Owners Alarmed by Homeless Rights Bill

Los Angeles business people and groups are alarmed by a proposed “homeless bill of rights” measure, introduced last month in Sacramento, which would give the homeless the right to conduct “life-sustaining activities” in public spaces, including in front of businesses.

‘Shark Tank’ Contract Can Bite Entrepreneurs

When entrepreneur Scott Jordan pitched his business, Technology Enabled Clothing, to a group of well-heeled investors on ABC’s “Shark Tank” last season, he knew producers and the network in the future could take a bite out of his company -- even if he didn't receive an investment from any of the so-called sharks on the show.

Atari Files for Chapter 11

The U.S. arm of iconic video game maker Atari has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, planning to separate from its unprofitable French parent company, the Hollywood Reporter and SkyNews report Monday. Observers expect the developer of classic early video games such as Pong and Asteroids to look for a potential buyer and focus on growth opportunities on digital platforms.

Probe of Boeing 787 Battery Fire Expands

The National Transportation Safety Board on Sunday added a new twist to the high-profile probes of electrical malfunctions aboard a pair of Boeing Co.'s 787 airliners by disclosing that the battery that caught fire on a parked Japan Airlines Co. jet earlier this month "did not exceed its designed voltage," the Wall Street Journal and New York Times report.

Seattle Looks Set to Get Sonics Back

The only thing stopping the Sacramento Kings from a sale and move to Seattle is approval by NBA owners, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Maloof family has agreed to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen, the league confirmed Monday.

New 'Disney' Film Shot Without Permission

Is Randy Moore’s new movie about a father going insane at Walt Disney World simply cinematic art? Or is Mickey Mouse about to get very, very mad at Moore? The New York Times reports about Moore's new film, “Escape From Tomorrow,” which was shot without permission from Disney. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend.

Big Senate Gift to Drug Maker

Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs, the New York Times reports.

Pay for Disney's Iger Exceeds $40 Million

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger received overall compensation valued at $40.2 million last year, a more than 20 percent increase from the prior year, the Wall Street Journal and Hollywood Reporter say.

Shipping Fresh Produce Overseas a Growing LAX Business

For companies shipping West Coast fruits and vegetables by air to high-end supermarkets and restaurants in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, one rule supersedes all others: Never break the cold chain. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that while produce by air is mostly a niche business, for major international airlines operating out of Los Angeles, it's fast becoming is a key business, especially in the spring and summer.

Santa Monica Antique Mall Acquired

One of L.A.’s most active apartment developers has purchased the site of the Wertz Brothers Antique Mart in Santa Monica as dramatic changes are planned for properties near a future stop on the light rail Expo Line, the Los Angeles Times reports. Wertz Realty Investments sold the antique store building and parking lot at 1613 Lincoln Blvd. for more than $11 million to Century West Partners, which plans to incorporate the site into its Lincoln Boulevard Collection: four apartment buildings on Lincoln Boulevard with shops and restaurants on the ground floor.

Digital Projection Has Drive-ins Reeling

The digital revolution is here, and that could mean lights-out for many of the nation's 368 surviving drive-ins, the Los Angeles Times reports. Hollywood is expected to stop distributing 35-millimeter film prints to all U.S. theaters later this year and most drive-in owners are unlikely to be able to convert.

China's Metrosexual Men Revive Luxury Shopping

China's fashion-forward men are snapping up Gucci and Burberry bags, driving a rebound in the luxury market, Reuters reports.

No Stocks Today

U.S. markets are closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

Market Hopes Wine Customers Won’t Pass ‘Buck’

RETAIL: Trader Joe’s hikes Charles Shaw line from $1.99 to $2.49.

Trader Joe’s hopes customers are willing to swallow its Two-Buck Chuck wine’s new $2.49 price.

Online Ordering System Hopes Eateries Take Bytes

INTERNET: Investors fill ChowNow’s plate with $3 million in funding.

ChowNow gets funding and seeks to get restaurants to add its online ordering system to the menu.

Pol Positions

Dan Schnur’s years in Republican politics left him the right man to run Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

Pundit Dan Schnur checks his politics at the door as director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.

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Film Clip Firm Grows Ad Role

INTERNET: Zefr eyes more dough from YouTube videos.

Zefr looks to expand the role of advertising in its YouTube movie clip business.

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Out of Place?

Homeless ‘bill of rights’ alarming to business owners

Business owners and groups fear a proposed “bill of rights” for the homeless would obstruct operations.

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Taking the Plunge

TECHNOLOGY: DryWired hopes to line up phone businesses for its waterproof coating.

DryWired looks to make splash with waterproof coating for mobile phones.

What to Do With L.A.’s Bounty of ‘Boomerang’ Money?

Mark Ridley-Thomas sees new roles for returned community redevelopment money.

Keeping L.A. Afloat

Government, businesses and labor must row together to keep port’s cargo and economy moving.

Keeping the Port of Los Angeles shipshape buoys the L.A. economy, according to Geraldine Knatz.

Sharpening the Cuts

California may feel the heat as other states cut taxes to lure businesses, Charles Crumpley writes.

Residential-Retail Project Sets Up Beachhead

DEVELOPMENT: Decron borrowed $67 million for Playa Del Oro’s final phase.

Miracle Mile real estate development and investment firm Decron Properties Corp. broke ground this month on a $67 million mixed-use apartment project in Westchester.

Data Bank

Calendar and Events

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from labusinessjournal.com and other sources

Intellectual Property Firm Thinks It’s Time to Grow

EMPLOYMENT: Partners at Novak Druce hope to double up on headcount.

Wilmington, Del., intellectual property firm Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz looked like a firm in trouble to some industry insiders last fall.

Expansion Plan Leads Lender Into Orange County

ACQUISITION: Royal sees opportunity to broaden Chinese-American base.

After buying a Ventura County bank in 2011, Royal Business Bank in downtown Los Angeles has made another acquisition, this time in Orange County.

Debit Card Pioneer Checks Into Online Banking Sector

FINANCING: Green Dot hopes to make GoBank work without loans.

GoBank, a new online bank created by Monrovia’s Green Dot Corp., offers checking accounts and online bill payment, and it’s insured by the FDIC.

TouchFrame Making Push for Interactive Video

STARTUP: Santa Monica company exploring world of app-based game shows.

Of the groups that presented at MuckerLab’s startup showcase last week only one could claim an assist from Mike Tyson.

Fashion Retailer Sees Japanese Shops as Good Fit

APPAREL: Planet Blue looks to tap growing draw of SoCal beach lifestyle.

Fashion retailer Planet Blue plans to extend its global reach by opening stores in Tokyo.

New Owner Takes On Sunset Strip Hotel Project

Real Estate: James Hotels sells WeHo site in $28 million transaction.

European hotel developer checks into West Hollywood property on Sunset Strip.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

You Can’t Keep a Good Car Down

Peter Mullin has had a lifelong enthusiasm for cars.

Weighing In On Fitness

‘Biggest Loser’ show likes carpet company’s ground-level approach.

Weight-loss show “The Biggest Loser” applauds the scale of carpet company’s fitness program.

Underwear Makes Good With Wood

Men’s apparel maker turns to trees to clothe customers’ trunks.

Maker of men’s undergarments branches into wood-fiber apparel.

Treats Take Crack at Angelenos

Fortune cookies have some choice words about life in L.A.

Former journalist hopes his citycentric fortune-cookie messages speak to Angelenos.

Activist Lawyer Stalls Approvals

Development: Target is latest project to be held up.

Target’s Hollywood project is the latest to draw fire from an attorney and activist neighborhood group.

TV Contest May Take Toll on Players

ENTERTAINMENT: ‘Shark Tank’ contract could bite entrepreneurs.

Idea-pitching entrepreneurs risk getting soaked by the contract terms of TV show “Shark Tank.”

Friday, January 18

Tech Helps L.A. Beat National Venture Capital Trend

The tech-heavy startup scene in Los Angeles helped the region buck a national trend last year, drawing more venture capital investments as the nation saw an overall decline.

Job Growth Slows in L.A.

L.A. County’s job creation machine slowed in December as the unemployment rate remained stuck at 10.2 percent and job payrolls grew by less than 10,000, according to state figures released Friday.

Sun-Times Parent Considering Bid for Tribune Assets

The owner of the Chicago Sun-Times is considering buying some of Tribune Co.’s newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

The Week’s Biggest Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies was nearly flat for the week, as investors reacted to mixed fourth-quarter earnings.

Stocks Close Mixed

In Friday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 54 points to 13,650. The Nasdaq fell 1 point to 3,135. The S&P 500 rose 5 points to 1,486. The LABJ Stock Index fell less than 1 point to 140.

JustFab Acquires FabKids to Expand Into Children’s Clothing

When Adam Goldenberg co-founded subscription ecommerce site JustFab, he admittedly didn’t have much fashion experience. But with the El Segundo retailer’s latest acquisition, Goldenberg is working in his wheelhouse. Goldenberg, a father of two, announced Friday that JustFab has acquired children’s ecommerce service FabKids for an undisclosed price.

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TSA Ends Contract With Rapiscan

The Transportation Security Administration has ended a contract with Rapiscan, a unit of Hawthorne's OSI Systems Inc. that makes a controversial full-body scanner used to screen passengers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

New Tribune CEO Sees Opportunity to Grow

Tribune Co. named investor Bruce Karsh as chairman and veteran entertainment executive Peter Liguori as chief executive. The Los Angeles Times report includes a Q&A; with Ligouri.

Some Passengers Still OK With Dreamliner

Some frequent fliers say they aren't worried about safety aboard Boeing’s problem-plagued 787 aircraft, while many less-seasoned travelers are often unaware of what model of plane they're flying on, the Associated Press reports.

Amgen’s Aranesp Fails to Help Heart Patients

Results of a long-term study of Amgen Inc.’s once promising blockbuster Aranesp indicate the anemia drug didn’t keep heart failure patients alive longer or out of the hospital, Bloomberg News reports.

Van Nuys Debt Collectors Settle Federal Case

Forensic Case Management Services Inc, a Van Nuys debt collection operation, and the people who ran it agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle federal allegations that they improperly bullied consumers to get them to pay overdue bills, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hype Builds for a Non-Apple Smartphone

When a Samsung Electronics Co. executive showed off a new chip at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, he created a flurry of news coverage for a completely different product—the company's next top-of-the-line smartphone, the Wall Street Journal reports.

IRS Weighs In on Health Care Reform for Businesses

The Internal Revenue Service recently proposed new regulations to govern what has been dubbed the “employer mandate” section of the Affordable Care Act. The ramifications of health care reform for business owners are coming into focus as these new rules are floated for comment, the Washington Post reports.

Crowdfunding Efforts Draw Suspicion

Regulators are scrutinizing about 200 websites set up by entrepreneurs to profit from a more lenient law on the sale of shares in small companies, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Stocks Mixed in Morning Trading

In Friday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 17 points to 13,579. The Nasdaq fell 15 points to 3,121. The S&P 500 rose 4 points to 1,477.

Thursday, January 17

OpenX Raises $22 Million for Mobile Expansion

As more people turn to mobile phones and tablets to access the Internet, advertising is making the move to mobile. So Pasadena ad exchange OpenX has raised $22.5 million in an effort to expand its mobile advertising offerings.

MuckerLab Startups Present at Second Demo Day

It was graduation day Wednesday for the second startup class from Santa Monica accelerator MuckerLab. A group of 10 startups presented at MuckerLab’s demo day, hoping to attract the eye of investors and other industry insiders.

South Korean Retailer to Buy K-Swiss Inc.

K-Swiss Inc. has agreed to a $170 million acquisition by major South Korean retailer E. Land World.

U.S. Bank Provides Financing for Discovery Science Center

Discovery Science Center will receive $4.7 million in tax-advantaged financing from U.S. Bank to assist the Orange County nonprofit open a center at the defunct Children’s Museum building in the northeast San Fernando Valley, the bank announced Thursday.

Stocks Up at Thursday Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 85 points to 13,596. The Nasdaq rose 19 points to 3,136. The S&P 500 rose 8 points to 1,481. The LABJ Stock Index rose nearly 1 point to 141.

Regulators Across the Globe Ground Dreamliner

U.S. regulators and their colleagues in other countries ordered the grounding of Boeing 787s on Thursday until they could determine what caused a new type of battery to fail on two planes in recent days, the New York Times reports. Boeing could end up with serious problems if it turns out the battery is a design flaw, aviation expert Michael Boyd told CNBC.

FTC Bars POM Juice's Health Claims

The Federal Trade Commission released its final ruling against POM Wonderful LLC, saying ads for the popular pomegranate juice, such as one headlined "Cheat death," made misleading claims about the drink's health benefits, the Wall Street Journal reports. But POM's owners, Los Angeles billionaires and philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick, don't see anything final about the decision and intend to fight on.

CBS to Spin Off Billboard Business

Broadcasting giant CBS Corp. announced that it's selling its European and Asian outdoor sign business, which includes a contract with the London Underground. It also will convert its U.S.-based billboard unit into a real estate investment trust, which allows new investors to come in and potentially enjoy higher returns, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Herbalife Raises Profit Estimate

Herbalife Ltd. on Thursday said that preliminary results for its fourth quarter and for 2012 were above its prior expectations, the Wall Street Journal reports. Shares of the Los Angeles nutritional supplement company, which has been engaged in a public battle over its business model, were down in early trading, possibly reflecting investor disappointment that the company didn't accelerate its stock buyback as hoped.

L.A. Council Advances Pot Dispensary Measure

The Los Angeles City Council moved forward Wednesday on a measure for the May 21 ballot that would tax and limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries, the Los Angeles Times reports.

L.A. to Enforce Condoms-in-Porn Law

Los Angeles city officials moved Wednesday to adopt a county measure requiring condoms in adult films, even though the new law is being challenged in court by a leading porn producer, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Amgen to Build Singapore Manufacturing Facility

Amgen will invest about $200 million to build a manufacturing facility in Singapore to produce clinical and commercial products, the Ventura County Star reports. The company said the deal was part of its global expansion strategy.

Jobless Claims Fall to Lowest Level in Five Years

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments fell more than forecast last week to the lowest level in five years, pointing to further improvement in the labor market, Bloomberg News reports.

Investors Grapple with Core Reality of Apple

Managers at L.A.’s RNC Genter Capital Management are among investors large and small now grappling with what could be a watershed moment for Apple Inc., the Wall Street Journal reports. Is the once fleet-of-foot tech growth stock transitioning to a more plodding value stock?

Unions Left Behind as Manufacturing Bounces Back

U.S. manufacturers have added a half-million workers since the end of 2009, making the sector one of the few bright spots in an otherwise weak recovery. And yet there were 4 percent fewer union factory workers in 2012 than there were in 2010, the Washington Post reports. The trend underscores a central conundrum in the “manufacturing renaissance” that President Obama loves to tout as an economic accomplishment: These new jobs are different from the ones that delivered millions of American workers a ticket to the middle class over the past half-century.

China Begins to Lose Edge as World's Factory Floor

China is losing its competitive edge as a low-cost manufacturing base, the Wall Street Journal reports, with makers of everything from handbags to shirts to basic electronic components relocating to cheaper locales like Southeast Asia. The shift — illustrated in weakened foreign investment in China — has pluses and minuses for an economy key to global growth.

Stocks Rise in Morning Trading

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 59 points to 13,570. The Nasdaq rose 13 points to 3,130. The S&P 500 rose 5 points to 1,478.

Wednesday, January 16

ChowNow Raises $3 Million

Competition in the food ordering and delivery space is heating up. ChowNow, a Santa Monica startup that creates online and mobile ordering platforms for restaurants, announced Wednesday that is has raised $3 million in funding led by local venture capital firm GRP Partners.

Siemer Ventures Announces 2012 Investments

Siemer Ventures, the venture capital arm of Siemer & Associates, has announced that it grew its portfolio by 24 companies last year.

Better-Than-Expected Profit at PacWest

PacWest Bancorp said that its fourth-quarter net income jumped 43 percent as the bank holding company added revenue from acquisitions and controlled costs.

Glendale Council Approves Plastic Bag Ban

The Glendale City Council on Tuesday voted to ban the use of plastic bags at grocery stores and other retailers starting next year, joining a growing number of communities around the state.

Simulations Plus Profit Falls 22 Percent

Simulations Plus Inc. said its fiscal first-quarter net income fell 22 percent as the specialty software developer was hurt by cutbacks at some of its large customers.

Stocks Again Mixed at Close

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 24 points to 13,511. The Nasdaq rose 7 points to 3,118. The S&P 500 rose less than 1 point to 1,473. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 140.

City Council Puts Off Street Repair Bond Proposal

With calls for more public outreach, the Los Angeles City Council has decided against placing a $3 billion bond issue to repair city streets on the May ballot, the Los Angeles Daily News and Los Angeles Times report.

Price of Iconic Trader Joe’s Wine to Rise

Don’t call it “Two-Buck Chuck” anymore. The Charles Shaw wine sold at Trader Joe’s is going up in price to $2.49 at stores throughout California starting today, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

County Defers Vote on Storm Water Cleanup Fee

Facing overwhelming opposition to a proposed parcel fee to clean up storm water pollution, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors deferred a vote to place it on the ballot, the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News report.

Nebraska Governor Wants to End State's Income Tax

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has become the second Republican governor in the last week to propose ending his state's income tax, Reuters and the Huffington Post report. He wants to make Nebraska more competitive with its neighbors by eliminating the tax on both individuals and corporations. The Omaha World-Herald says Heineman should get credit for thinking big.

BofA Takes a Mortgage Mulligan

After a painful retreat from home lending after acquiring troubled Countrywide Financial, the Wall Street Journal says that Bank of America is girding for a new run at the U.S. mortgage business.

Dell Goes from PC King to Buyout Fodder

Private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners was in discussions with Dell on a buyout at about $13 to $14 a share, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The company faltered after abandoning what propelled it to prominence: a finely tuned supply chain that could quickly assemble and deliver custom-ordered computers at a lower cost than the competition.

CalPERS Strikes Fear into Hearts of Private Equity Firms

CalPERS this week announced that it made a 13.26 percent return on its investments in calendar year 2012, but its fiscal year performance was bad. Southern California Public Radio reports that a big miss on the fund’s private equity portfolio in particular means that buyout firms, which represent the biggest chunk of investments, aren't doing so well either. That could result in a pullback by the California public employees’ pension fund in that sector.

Dimon's Pay Is Cut 50 Percent after 'Whale' Debacle

J.P. Morgan chief James Dimon's compensation for 2012 was set at $11.5 million, down from $23.1 million the year before, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News report. The company released a pair of reports that found Dimon bore "ultimate responsibility" for the "London whale" trading debacle that cost the nation's largest bank at least $6.2 billion in losses.

State Says L.A. Coliseum Has Breached Lease

The financially troubled Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission has breached its lease contract with the state by failing to pay $500,000 in rent due at the end of the year, the Los Angeles Times reports. The state declaration is the latest sign of fiscal distress for the Coliseum, a taxpayer-owned stadium at risk for running out of money by the end of March.

Dunkin' Donuts to Expand Into Southland

Dunkin’ Donuts is returning to Southern California, planning to open franchises throughout Los Angeles and the rest of the six-county region starting in 2015, the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal report. The Canton, Mass. company closed all its California shops in the late 1990s.

Stocks Mixed Again This Morning

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 18 points to 13,516. The Nasdaq rose 7 points to 3,118. The S&P 500 was up less than 1 point to 1,473.

Two-Buck Chuck Price Goes Up

Don’t call it “Two-Buck Chuck” anymore. The Charles Shaw wine sold at Trader Joe’s is going up in price to $2.49 at stores throughout California starting today.

Tuesday, January 15

BBCN's Kang to Resign as CEO

BBCN Bancorp Inc. said that Alvin Kang, the bank holding company’s chief executive, will resign effective Jan. 31. Kang is also resigning from his post as a director of the company.

Disney Interactive Launches Multi-Platform Game Concept

Could Disney character Captain Jack Sparrow beat Pixar character Buzz Lightyear in a sword fight? Fans of the Disney and Pixar movies could soon find out by playing on Disney Interactive’s newest game platform, Infinity.

Ross Levinsohn to Lead Hollywood Reporter Parent Company

Longtime L.A. tech executive Ross Levinsohn has been named chief executive of Guggenheim Digital Media, the new parent company of the Hollywood Reporter.

Green Dot Launches Mobile Banking Account

Green Dot Corp. has launched a long-anticipated foray into banking, announcing what it called first bank account designed from scratch to be used on a mobile device.

L.A. Port Cites Weaker December

The Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday reported lower container volumes in December compared with the previous year because of the weak global economy and a change by a shipping line.

Groundbreaking Set for Rail Yard

Groundbreaking is scheduled Wednesday for a $137 million Wilmington rail yard designed to add train capacity and reduce truck traffic.

Stocks Mixed at Close

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 28 points to 13,535. The Nasdaq fell 7 points to 3,111. The S&P 500 rose 2 points to 1,472. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 140.

Murdoch Says L.A Times Purchase Not a Sure Thing

Rupert Murdoch told the Los Angeles Times that News Corp.'s plan to split into two publicly traded companies this summer -- separating the newspapers from the TV stations -- won't get him out of the cross hairs of FCC cross-ownership rules if he should want to bid for the Los Angeles paper that Tribune Co. is expected to sell.

FDA Warns Sylmar Plant

Medical device maker St. Jude Medical received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration about problems with manufacturing and quality control at the Sylmar plant where it makes implantable heart defibrillators, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Bloomberg News report.

L.A. Hit Tourism Record Last Year

L.A.'s $16.5-billion tourism industry got even bigger in 2012, the Los Angeles Times reports. The city enjoyed another banner year for tourism, when it welcomed more than 41 million visitors, surpassing the record set in 2011.

Weintraub Plans 600 Apartments in Warner Center

The apartment building boom in the West San Fernando Valley continues with Malibu-based Weintraub Real Estate Group confirming plans to build a 600-unit complex at the Catalina Yachts boat building lot in Warner Center, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Armstrong Admits Doping, Says He Will Testify

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey scheduled for broadcast on her network on Thursday, Lance Armstrong confessed that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, the New York Times and Reuters report. But Oprah herself says Armstrong "did not come clean in the way I expected," USA Today reports.

Wal-Mart to Hire Vets, Boost U.S. Sourcing

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer and nation's largest private employer, is making a pledge to boost its sourcing from domestic suppliers and hire more than 100,000 veterans, the Associated Press reports.

CalPERS Gains Grew in 2012

California's massive public employee pension system gained more than 13 percent in investment returns last year, most of it from stocks and real estate, Bloomberg News and Reuters report. It was the best year for the California Public Employees' Retirement System since 2006.

Oracle Patches Java, But Concerns Remain

Oracle delivered an emergency patch to its Java software over the weekend, following Department of Homeland Security warnings to fix a bug that allowed hackers access to Web browsers. But some security experts warn users to stay away amid lingering concerns about the company’s ability to react quickly, the Washington Post and New York Times report.

California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial

A plan to offer an array of online college classes at San Jose State University could open the door to teaching hundreds of thousands of California students at a lower cost via the Internet, the New York Times reports.

Wall Street Pay Gets Tougher Look

Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC, which recently came to the aid of beleagured Herbalife Ltd., is taking aim at corporate compensation levels, the Wall Street Journal reports. The activist investor recently bought a stake in Morgan Stanley and now is prodding the securities firm about how much it pays top executives.

Stocks Down This Morning

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 22 points to 13,485. The Nasdaq fell 16 points to 3,101. The S&P 500 fell 4 point to 1,467.

Monday, January 14

Crowdsourcing Startup Raises $15 Million

Rob Salvatore and his business partners were running their own production company in the mid-2000s when they realized that there had to be an easier way to get projects produced and distributed.

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Start Engine Accelerator Expands Downtown

When Start Engine went looking for a second L.A. location, it only had to go 11 miles down Wilshire Boulevard.

Digital Billboard Companies Launch Campaign

Outdoor advertising companies facing removal of their digital signs in Los Angeles have organized supportive business groups, non-profits and community groups into a coalition to lobby for polities that would preserve use of the technology.

Convertro Raises $5 Million in Series B Round

Convertro, which developed a technology platform that enables marketers to know all of the advertising and marketing that led to a sale, has closed a $5 million funding round that it will primarily use to ramp up its sales and marketing in New York City and overseas.

Stocks Mixed at Close

In Monday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 19 points to 13,507. The Nasdaq fell 8 points to 3,117. The S&P 500 fell 1 point to 1,471. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 140.

Apple Cuts Orders for iPhone Parts

Apple has cut its orders for components for the iPhone 5 due to weaker-than-expected demand, at a time when the Cupertino company faces greater competition from rival Samsung, theWall Street Journal reports. Yahoo's Daily Ticker reports that shares early Monday declined to the lowest price in almost a year.

Flowers Leading Bidder for Hostess Brands

Flowers Foods Inc. is set to kick off bidding for most of Hostess Brands Inc.’s bread business, offering a total of up to $390 million for brands and other assets that include Wonder Bread and Nature’s Pride, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal report. The Flowers purchase is subject to higher bids at a court-supervised auction.

Winter Freeze Keeps Growers Up at Night

Citrus farmers across California have been up all night since Thursday, when arctic winds began pushing down a cold front that threatens $1 billion in oranges, lemons, tangerines and grapefruit still on trees in the nation's largest producer of fresh citrus, the Los Angeles Times reports. ABC7 reports that bone-chilling cold and howling winds are expected to whip through parts of the Southland today.

‘South Park’ Creators to Launch Own Studio

"South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have formed their own production studio, Important Studios, with $60 million from boutique investment bank Raine Group, the Hollywood Reporter and New York Times report. With an estimated value of $300 million built on revenue from Comedy Central's “South Park” and the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon,” the studio will have the power and money to approve television, movie and theater projects, including a big-screen version of “Mormon.”

California's Debt Still a Heavy Cloud

Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget presented a plan to pay back nearly $28 billion owed, but various sources estimate California's debt at hundreds of billions. The Los Angeles Times notes that by one measure the state owes Wall Street more per resident than almost every other state.

Starz Stock Rises in Market Debut

Shares of premium TV company Starz shares began trading today as the premium TV company started trading as a separate entity from Liberty Media. Early trading at $14.56 gives the company a market value of around $1.6 billion as it faces the perception that, by one analyst's description, "it's low-growth asset competing in a Netflix-type of world," the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Retailers Fear Payroll Tax

A temporary cut in Social Security withholdings gave Americans hundreds of extra dollars to spend over the past two years, but Congress allowed that break to expire during the wrangling over the fiscal cliff. The hit is likely to cement a frugal attitude that led consumers to cut back on eating out and shift to less-expensive store brands, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg BusinessWeek report.

Condé Nast Wants a Cut of Writers' Film, TV Deals

Condé Nast, stricken by the publishing industry's budgetary woes, is claiming rights to its contract writers' articles if they are optioned for a film or television show, the New York Times and TheWrap report.

Henry's Serves Final Tacos in North Hollywood

Local culinary landmark Henry's Tacos served its last customers over the weekend at Moorpark Street and Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood. A last-minute deal to sell the stand fell apart last week, said Henry's Taco owner Janis Hood, who hopes to see the eatery open elsewhere, the Los Angeles Daily News and Los Angeles Times report.

Judge Approves Sale of Kodak Patents

A judge has approved the long-awaited sale of Eastman Kodak Co.'s digital-imaging patents to a collection of technology giants for $527 million, much less than the $2 billion or more that the bankrupt company originally wanted, the Wall Street Journal and PC Magazine report.

Nudists Seek Corporate Sponsor

The American Association for Nude Recreation, the nation's largest nudist association is looking for corporate sponsors, and leaders think this might be their moment in the sun, the Wall Street Journal reports. Now that the organic food movement has given the word “naked” a wholesome new meaning – suggesting natural and free of preservatives – the word is popping up in all kinds of product names: Naked Pizza, Bear Naked granola, the Naked Grape Chardonnay and more than one naked lager.

Positive About Benefits of Positive Thinking

Public relations veteran Jackie Lapin went through a grueling stretch in 2006, working on intense publicity campaigns for clients including World Poker Tour, Mazda and Commerce Casino.

Bigger Picture

INTERNET: Local production of web video helps ease L.A.’s loss of more expensive TV comedies and dramas.

New focus on web video production helps offset some of L.A.’s losses from a dip in TV shoots.

Text App Maker Connects With Free Internet Provider

TELECOM: TextPlus joins with FreedomPop in effort to disrupt cellular market.

App maker TextPlus connects with free Internet provider FreedomPop in effort to compete in cell phone market.

Chinatrust Moves On Under Eye of Regulators

BANKING: Lender taps new CEO as it cleans up money-laundering issues.

Regulators force Chinatrust to play it safe after the bank came under scrutiny for money-laundering issues.

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Eight Over 80

Business Journal checks in with eight octogenarians who are too busy to consider retirement.

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Video Game Scores Online

ENTERTAINMENT: Maker taps crowdfunding website.

Video game producers join a growing group raising money from crowdfunding.

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High Time

Luxury condo sales on rise as economy picks up

Rebounding economy helped homebuyers make their move into luxury condos last year.

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Eight Over 80: Gene-Lebell

Not even age could slow down Gene LeBell’s adrenaline-fueled career.

Basketball Legend Fits Golf to a ‘T’

Ritch K. Eich’s golf tips include what professionals can do to connect better with spectators.

Head Start on Startups

L.A.’s economic factors could give the region jump on attracting smart and young entrepreneurs.

Alan Whitman believes Los Angeles has advantages that might give it a head start in supporting startups.

Leveling Off Multilevel Marketing

Charles Crumpley thinks it’s time that Herbalife Ltd. makes a healthy choice to abandon multilevel marketing.

Recording Studio Sells to Tune of $4.96 Million

ACQUISITION: Facility had been used by Usher and Janet Jackson.

A Santa Monica recording studio where music giants Usher and Janet Jackson once laid down tracks has been sold.

Eight Over 80: Harold I. Gould

How many hours a week do you work? It depends on the season and the work load at any particular time.

Eight Over 80: Lawrence N. Field

How many hours a week do you work? Forty to 45.

Eight Over 80: David Wilstein; Leonard Wilstein

When David Wilstein was younger, his commercial construction career gave him some thrills that he just doesn’t get anymore.

Eight Over 80: Joseph N. Tilem

How many hours a week do you work? About 30 hours.

Eight Over 80: Leon M. Cooper

How many hours a week do you work? I am in the office practicing law at Leon M. Cooper PC and Grupo Deco America (which owns funeral homes in the United States) 40 hours a week.

Eight Over 80: Richard Riordan

Richard Riordan isn’t just still going strong at 82, he’s jumping headlong into brawls that others won’t go near.

Data Bank

Calendar and Events

Shoring Up

Former aerospace engineer Randy Herrel now works on blueprint to bring back the crowds to Catalina.

Former aerospace engineer Randy Herrel now hopes to relaunch Catalina Island as a tourist destination.

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from labusinessjournal.com and other sources

Medical Group Moves to Former Bookstore Site

REAL ESTATE: Former Borders includes doctors’ offices, urgent care center.

MemorialCare Medical Group has turned a former Borders bookstore in Long Beach into its first consolidated medical office building.

Burger Chain Looks to Take Wings With Chicken

DINING: Fatburger adds Buffalo’s Cafe items to menu at two-for-one site.

Burger chain Fatburger Corp. is working to entice loyal diners to try chicken wings, too.

Broadcasters Play for Time To Increase Ad Revenue

TELEVISION: Buyers fear extended period will boost costs, not effectiveness.

Some television network executives and ad buyers aren’t seeing eye to eye on how to price television ads.

Bastion Betting Big on Culver City Emergence

DEVELOPMENT: Builder plans more apartments in area near Silicon Beach.

Canadian company makes itself at home in Culver City with third residential-retail project.

Commercial Property Firms Prove Hot Pickups

REAL ESTATE: CBRE expands in Southeast U.S. with Atlanta acquisitions.

CBRE’s aggressive acquisition strategy picks up with deals for two Atlanta firms.

Koreatown Bank Feels Squeeze in Tighter Market

LENDING: Hanmi seeks sale or merger after falling behind giant BBCN.

Sale-pursuing Hanmi is the latest bank to feel the squeeze in Koreatown’s high-pressure market.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

Still High On ‘Peter Pan’?

Pantages Theatre hopes Cathy Rigby production will fly with kids.

Pantages Theatre hopes audiences are again ready to fall for gymnast Cathy Rigby in “Peter Pan.”

Fired Up Over Candy

Chocolatier spices up bars with assistance from Asian chilies.

Chocolatier is sweet on spicy Asian chilies and peanuts as ingredients in its confections.

Cheeseburger Contest Hits New Heights

Pasadena chef looks to Mars rover for culinary inspiration.

Cooks look out of this world (Mars rover) and under the sea (sushi rolls) for inspiration in a cheeseburger competition.

Trucking Firm In Union Drive

SHIPPING: Toll labors to line up drivers for Teamsters.

Trucking company Toll Group pledges to ring up more unionized drivers at the Port of Los Angeles.

Proposition 13 Faces Left Turn

TAXES: Democrats look to loosen business protections.

Property owners fear Proposition 13’s number could be up with Democrats’ control of Sacramento.

Friday, January 11

EverySignal Changes Station, Switches Focus from Consumers to Businesses

EverySignal, the big data company out of the incubator Science, announced it’s changing course and switching its focus from consumers to businesses.

Startup Launches to License Film Scores

Los Angeles has become a hotbed for music startups in recent months, and now another company is making its debut. Score Revolution launched Friday as an online catalogue for licensing original film scores.

L.A. Companies Showcase at CES

The Consumer Electronics Show wraps up its week-long festivities Friday in Los Vegas. For those who weren’t able to wander the showroom floor to check out the cutting-edge technology, the odd inventions and the booth babes, here’s a rundown of some L.A. companies that made an appearance.

Mercury Media Makes Internet Advertising Acquisition

Santa Monica advertising company Mercury Media has acquired IMarketing, a boutique Internet ad firm.

The Week’s Big Movers

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies was flat for the week, as investors awaited the coming start of earnings season.

Stocks Mixed at Close

In Friday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 17 points to 13,488. The Nasdaq rose 4 points to 3,126. The S&P 500 fell less than 1 point to 1,472. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 140.

Chinese Firm Buys Grauman's Naming Rights

Chinese TV maker TCL has paid more than $5 million for the naming rights to the venerable Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Hollywood Boulevard landmark will now be called the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Herbalife Execs Counter 'Pyramid' Allegation

A investor presentation Thursday featuring protein shakes and granola bars, entreaties for more hugs in the world, and accusations of lies and snobbery – was all designed to counter a $1-billion bet that L.A.’s Herbalife will go down the tubes, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Warner Beats Superman Co-Creator's Daughter

In a legal victory that cements the studio's ownership of Superman, Warner Bros. has won an appeal against the daughter of Jerry Siegel, the character's co-creator, the Hollywood Reporter and Wired report.

Boeing 787 Faces Regulatory Review

U.S. regulators say they will perform a far-reaching review of the design, manufacturing and assembly of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner after a fire on a Japan Airlines jet this week and several incidents last year, Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal report.

Holiday PC Sales Dip for First Time in Five Years

Holiday-season sales of personal computers fell for the first time in more than five years, Reuters reports. Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system failed to excite buyers and many instead opted for tablet devices and smartphones.

Long-Term Jobless Begin to Find Work

The epidemic of long-term unemployment, one of the most pernicious and persistent challenges bedeviling the U.S. economy, is finally showing signs of easing, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Lack of Geithner's Rolodex Not Lew's Biggest Hurdle

Jack Lew, President Obama’s choice to head the Treasury Department, won’t have the global experience of Secretary Timothy F. Geithner as he grapples with issues like Europe’s debt and China’s currency rate. But it probably won’t matter as much as other issues, Bloomberg News reports.

Brown Wants to Reorganize California Transportation

Six state transportation departments would be grouped together under one central agency this July, "streamlining" future projects and ending wasteful spending, if Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget is approved, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Mixed Market This Morning

In Friday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 6 points to 13,477. The Nasdaq was down 3 points to 3,119. The S&P 500 fell 2 points to 1,470. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 140.

Thursday, January 10

Cadiz Changes CEOs

Cadiz Inc. on Thursday announced that its board has named President Scott Slater as chief executive, succeeding longtime CEO and co-founder Keith Brackpool.

Colony Financial Plans Stock Offering

Colony Financial Inc., which has been taking advantage of investment opportunities in the still-depressed residential market, late Thursday announced plans to sell at least 5 million common shares.

Market up at Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 81 points to 13,471. The Nasdaq rose 16 points to 3,122. The S&P 500 rose 11 points to 1,472. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 140.

InMarket Selected for Snack Food Marketing Program

Venice mobile marketing startup inMarket has caught the attention of candy and snack food giant Mondelez International.

Brown to Map Out Sweeping Changes in Proposed Budget

The days of catastrophic deficits behind him, Gov. Jerry Brown is set to propose a state budget today that would shift the Capitol's focus from fiscal triage to sweeping policy changes in education, criminal justice and healthcare, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Herbalife Showdown Spotlights New Wall Street

One thing is clear about the financial showdown between Wall Street gunslingers William Ackman and Daniel Loeb over Herbalife Ltd.: Someone is probably going to lose a whole lot of money, reports the Wall Street Journal, which live-blogged this morning's investor and analyst meeting.

Labor Secretary Solis Returning to California

Hilda L. Solis is leaving the Obama administration amid tepid reviews, but many here see her as the next potential member of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Times reports.

As Tax Hikes Loomed, Some CEOs Sold Stock

As Congress mulled higher tax rates last month, dozens of corporate executives sold big chunks of stock, saving themselves millions of dollars in taxes, according to a Wall Street Journal review of securities filings.

Buffett: Bank Risk No Longer Threatens Economy

Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who oversees stakes in some of the largest U.S. banks, said the nation’s lenders have rebuilt capital to the point where they no longer pose a threat to the economy, Bloomberg News reports.

What Lance Wants From Oprah

Disgraced former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong is finally going to talk – to Oprah – next Thursday on Winfrey's L.A.-based channel OWN. This should not surprise anyone, the Wall Street Journal reports.

AIG Won’t Join Suit Against Government

Apparently fearing a public relations blowback, AIG has elected not to join a controversial lawsuit against the government alleging that its 2008 bailout of the firm unfairly punished shareholders. The suit is backed by Hank Greenberg, AIG's former chief executive and still a major shareholder, the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor report.

Supervalu to Sell Grocery Chains

Supervalu Inc. is selling five of its top supermarket chains — Albertsons, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Star Market — to an investor group owned by Cerberus Capital Management for $100 million in cash, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Objections Emerge to Parts of USC-Coliseum Deal

All nine members of the Legislature's black caucus are urging state officials to scrap parts of a deal that would allow USC to run the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Los Angeles Times reports. They say nearby parking lots that USC demanded be included in the deal should instead be turned into parks for the South Los Angeles neighborhood.

Taxpayer Advocate Calls for Code Overhaul

Lawmakers need to overhaul the tax code completely to reduce the “significant, even unconscionable, burden” placed on taxpayers just to file a tax return, the Internal Revenue Service’s ombudsman told Congress on Wednesday, the New York Times reports.

Colleges Lose Pricing Power

The demand for four-year college degrees is softening, according to a new survey by Moody's Investors Service, the result of a perfect storm of economic and demographic forces that is sapping pricing power at a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Markets Mixed This Morning

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 14 points to 13,404. The Nasdaq fell less than 1 point to 3,106. The S&P 500 rose 3 points to 1,464.

Wednesday, January 9

Hanmi Financial Seeks Suitors

Koreatown’s Hanmi Financial Corp., the holding company that owns Hanmi Bank, is on the hunt for a buyer or merger, the company announced Wednesday.

Local Firm Starts 3-D TV Subscriptions

Three-D television hasn’t exactly taken off with consumers, but a Westchester company is ready if it does. DDD USA Inc. – which develops technology to automatically convert 2-D photos, videos and video games into 3-D – has launched a subscription service for consumers who want to watch 3-D shows on their TVs.

Loeb Takes Stake in Herbalife

Herbalife Ltd. got a boost Wednesday on word that a respected trader had taken a stake in the company. But that news was tempered by a report that securities regulators had opened an inquiry into the company.

Century Park Buys Fire Research Corp.

El Segundo’s Century Park Capital Partners LLC continues to expand its holdings in the fire and emergency equipment business, acquiring manufacturer Fire Research Corp. through a portfolio company.

Markets Rise at Close

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 62 points to 13,391. The Nasdaq rose 14 points to 3,106. The S&P 500 rose 4 points to 1,461. The LABJ Stock Index rose 1 point to 140.

ShoeDazzle Adds Celebrity Stylist Rachel Zoe

ShoeDazzle is adding an extra dose of reality star power to its executive lineup. The Santa Monica online retailer announced Wednesday that it has appointed celebrity stylist and reality TV star Rachel Zoe as its chief stylist.

Customers Out More Than $1 Billion for Idle Nuclear Plant

The California Public Utilities Commission held an initial meeting Tuesday that could eventually result in ratepayers getting a refund for a portion of the bills they have paid during the San Onofre nuclear plant's year-long outage, the Los Angeles Times reports. Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric customers are paying more than $1.1 billion a year in costs related to the troubled plant, according to the commission.

Boeing Dreamliner Incidents Raise Safety Concerns

Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner jet suffered a third mishap in as many days on Wednesday, heightening safety concerns after a string of setbacks for the new aircraft, Reuters reports.

Long Beach Port Breaks Ground on Bridge Replacement

Federal, state, city and port officials celebrated the groundbreaking Tuesday of a $1 billion project to replace the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge, considered the biggest bridge project in Southern California, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. The project is expected to be completed in 2016.

Psy to Promote Pistachios in Super Bowl Ad

Betting big that "Gangnam Style" won’t finally have gone the way of the "Macarena" by Feb. 3, Stewart and Lynda Resnick's Paramount Farms Wonderful Pistachios has booked South Korean YouTube sensation Psy to star in its first-ever Super Bowl ad, the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Anthem Scolded, UnitedHealth Praised on Rates

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones scolded Anthem Blue Cross for raising rates for small businesses while praising industry rival UnitedHealth Group Inc. for cutting worker premiums, the Los Angeles Times reports. Jones said Anthem's premium hike for companies with 50 or fewer workers, which he pegged at 11 percent, was "unreasonable" because the company overstated its projected medical costs and improperly added fees related to the federal healthcare law.

Suit Hits Agency's Actions That Benefit Newhall Ranch

Two Santa Clarita Valley-based environmental groups filed a lawsuit with the state's Public Utilities Commission, alleging that the $74 million purchase of Valencia Water Co. by the Castaic Lake Water Agency was done illegally and only to benefit the massive Newhall Ranch project, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

AMR Board to Study Merger Option

Directors of American Airlines' parent company likely won't make a decision when they meet Wednesday to consider a possible merger with US Airways, even as momentum for a deal is building, the Associated Press reports. Investors have been bidding up US Airways' stock price, and leaders of the two pilot unions have agreed on how to combine contracts, two developments that analysts say strengthen the case for a deal.

Short Sales Now Surpass Foreclosed Home Sales

In recent months, short sales — in which banks allow homeowners to sell for less than they owe — have surpassed sales of foreclosed homes in California for the first time since the start of the housing crash in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reports. The trend appears driven by rising home prices, government crackdowns on foreclosures and banks' increasing capacity to process the deals.

Morgan Stanley May Cut 1,600 Investment-Banking Jobs

Morgan Stanley, the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets, plans to eliminate about 1,600 jobs from its investment bank and support staff in coming weeks, sources tell Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal.

Disneyland Fights Multiday Pass Abuse

Workers at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park took photos of visitors entering the parks Tuesday as part of a new crackdown on abuse of multiday passes, the Los Angeles Times reports. Disney has been struggling to stop ticket brokers in Anaheim from buying multiday park passes at a discount and then "leasing" or "renting" them to visitors for individual days. Some patrons complained that the crackdown caused 45-minute delays at the gate.

Americans Get Moving Amid Torpid Recovery

Americans began striking out for greener pastures at a pace not seen since before the recession, which crippled job prospects, hobbled home sales and kept many stuck in place, the Wall Street Journal reports. About 3.9 percent of the population, or 11.8 million people, moved to a different county in 2011, new Census figures show. That was the highest level since before the recession.

Markets Rise This Morning

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 82 points to 13,411. The Nasdaq rose 17 points to 3,109. The S&P 500 rose 6 points to 1,463.

Tuesday, January 8

FreedomPop Partners with TextPlus

Two L.A. telecom startups have joined forces to take on Internet and cell phone service providers.

Location Film Production in L.A. Sees Increase

Location production in Los Angeles picked up last year thanks to an increase in local film and commercial shoots, though TV production in Los Angeles continued its decline.

Pasadena Insurance Brokerage Bolton & Co. Makes Acquisition

Pasadena insurance brokerage Bolton & Co. has purchased Preferred Specialty Insurance Services of Glendora.

Markets Close Down Again

In Tuesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 55 points to 13,329. The Nasdaq fell 7 points to 3,092. The S&P 500 fell 5 points to 1,457. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 139.

Disney Joins Jakks, Soon-Shiong to Bring Toys to Life

Walt Disney Co. is teaming up with toy company Jakks Pacific Inc. and Patrick Soon-Shiong, L.A.’s wealthiest person, on a new line of toys – with a nifty technological twist designed to link the goodies that kids lug home from the store with Disney's stable of well-known animated characters, Reuters reports.

Warner Bros. Finally Sets Animation Strategy

Committing to the genre after years of fits and starts, Warner Bros. announced that it will produce one animated movie a year beginning in 2014. It's the last major studio to do so, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Disney Appeal Halts Digital Domain 3-D Patent Sale

Walt Disney Co. has been temporarily granted a request to halt Digital Domain Media Group’s sale of 3-D conversation patents, Deadline.com reports. Disney claims that the proposed $5.4 million sale would infringe on its licensed ability to convert films from 2-D to 3-D and could make the company vulnerable to lawsuits.

MGM's $650 Million Financing Positions It for IPO

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is in the final stages of landing a $650 million bank financing that will retire its current debt, pay back money it borrowed from Sony and Warner Bros. to make “Skyfall” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and position the studio to move forward with an initial public stock offering, probably by June, sources tell the Hollywood Reporter.

Howard Marks' Malibu Estate Sells in $75 Million Range

Topping any L.A. area home sales last year, a 9.5-acre estate in Malibu owned by billionaire financier Howard Marks and his wife, Nancy, has sold in the $75 million range in an off-market deal, sources tell the Los Angeles Times.

AIG Weighs Joining Suit Against U.S. Government

Directors at American International Group Inc., the recipient of one of the biggest government bailout packages during the financial crisis, are considering whether to join a lawsuit that accuses the government of too-onerous terms in the 2008-2009 rescue package, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Poll Shows Support for Separating LAX Runways

A survey released by the Coalition to Fix LAX Now indicates that 74 percent of municipal voters favor a controversial proposal to separate the two northern runways at Los Angeles International Airport by 260 feet — a project proponents say would increase safety and efficiency but opponents dislike for the impact it would have on the neighborhood, the Los Angeles Times reports.

'Dr. Doom' Sees Possible 10 Percent Gold Correction

"Dr. Doom" Marc Faber tells CNBC that he owns gold even though the precious metal may be heading south. Faber also predicted a rather gloomy 2013 for stocks around the globe, pointing out what he sees as a "deterioration in the technicals of the market" and last year's huge increases from multi-year lows.

Stocks Down in Morning Trading

In Tuesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 66 points to 13,318. The Nasdaq fell 17 points to 3,082. The S&P 500 fell 8 points to 1,454.

Monday, January 7

From the Reporter’s Notebook: Jason Calacanis Talks 'This Week In'

This is an excerpt from technology reporter Tom Dotan’s interview with Jason Calacanis conducted for the Los Angeles Business Journal article headlined “Ex-Search Engine Finds Way to Video.” The article, which was published in the Jan. 7 issue, can be found in full here.

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Elections, Hurricane Sandy Boost CallFire Business

CallFire, a Santa Monica telecom startup, announced Monday that it saw revenue growth in 2012 driven by two big events in 2012, Hurricane Sandy and the national election.

Demand Media Buys Name.com

Demand Media is preparing for the surge in new domain names that will become available later this year with its acquisition of domain registrar Name.com.

Introducing L.A. Tech Journal

In an effort to bolster coverage of the growing technology industry locally, the Los Angeles Business Journal begins publication of the L.A. Tech Journal with this newsletter.

Additional Bidders for THQ Given More Time

THQ Inc. on Monday reached an agreement with creditors for a revised bankruptcy sale process, which will take more time than the Agoura Hills video game maker originally envisioned and could potentially result in a breakup of the company.

LTC Makes Land Acquisitions

LTC Properties Inc. said that it had purchased two land parcels and entered into health care facility development commitments valued at more than $29 million.

Stocks Close Down

In Monday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 51 points to 13,384. The Nasdaq fell 3 points to 3,098. The S&P 500 fell 5 points to 1,462. The LABJ Stock Index fell 1 point to 139.

Report: Disney Looks for Cost Savings, Ponders Layoffs

The Walt Disney Co., which recently reported record earnings, began an internal cost cutting review several weeks ago that may include layoffs at its studio and other units, sources tell Reuters.

BofA to Settle with Fannie Mae

Bank of America Corp. announced a deal on Monday aimed at resolving its biggest hangover stemming from its acquisition of Countrywide Financial Corp. It will pay $10.3 billion to Fannie Mae in cash and mortgage repurchases covering nearly a decade's worth of home loans, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News report. BofA also was among 10 U.S. banks that reached an $8.5 billion agreement with bank regulators to settle charges of foreclosure abuse.

Report: Kaiser Patient Details Kept in Private Home

Federal and state officials are investigating whether health care giant Kaiser Permanente violated patient privacy in its work with an Indio couple who stored nearly 300,000 confidential hospital records for the company, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A Bracelet Meant to Build Loyalty at Disney Parks

Walt Disney Co. plans to introduce a vacation management system called MyMagic+ that will drastically change the way Disney World visitors — some 30 million people a year — do just about everything, the New York Times reports. A high-tech bracelet will allow Disney for the first time to track guest behavior in minute detail and provide a variety of perks to visitors.

Garcetti Wants $1-a-Year Rent to Save Aviation School

Calling it a way to promote middle-class jobs, Councilman Eric Garcetti has called for a report on how to continue the Aviation Center at Van Nuys Airport to train aircraft mechanics, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The school, operated by the Los Angeles Unified School District, is threatened with closure because of district budget problems and the monthly rent of $12,000 it has to pay to Los Angeles World Airports.

L.A. Company Provides Fake Paparazzi for Celebrity Wannabes

Paparazzi and gawkers may disgust celebrities, but they just might be a dreamy fantasy for everyone else. Southern California Public Radio reports on an L.A. startup called Crowds on Demand, which markets itself to tourists from Shanghai willing to pay thousands of dollars to get the star treatment in Hollywood.

Spring Street Tower to Become Creative Offices

A Spring Street office building completed in 1915 has been purchased by a developer who plans to improve it as gentrification sweeps gradually through downtown L.A.’s formerly depressed historic financial district, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Cheap Money That Saved U.S. Housing Seen as Ending

The era of cheap money that fueled the housing recovery and record home-lending profits is showing signs of ending in the mortgage bond market, Bloomberg News reports.

VH1 to Unveil Revamped Brand Identity

VH1 is getting a makeover, sources tell the Hollywood Reporter. The network is refreshing its brand across digital and social platforms, with new promotional materials featuring a plus sign in its graphics, meant to represent the network’s dedication to combining music, pop culture and nostalgia programming.

Airlines Scrapping Clunkers Sooner as Oil Prices Rise

CNBC reports that jets are heading off to their final resting place at a rate similar to cars as airlines scrap aircraft at earlier stages, according to new research by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Stocks Down in Morning Trading

In Monday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 75 points to 13,360. The Nasdaq fell 13 points to 3,089. The S&P 500 fell 9 points to 1,457.

Office Buyer Pulls Off Triple Play Across L.A.

ACQUISITION: Three deals ring up $78.5 million bill for Kennedy-Wilson.

A joint venture led by Beverly Hills real estate firm Kennedy-Wilson Holdings Inc. has acquired three L.A. office buildings for $78.5 million from Koreatown’s Jamison Services Inc., once the largest private commercial office landlord in the city.

Mobile Dating App Hopes It Has Romance’s Number

INTERNET: Tinder links to users’ Facebook pages to weed out phony profiles.

Tinder hopes to make a move on the Internet dating market with a mobile app linked to Facebook accounts.

Putting Price On Serving Booze

Auction site raises bars by letting operators bid for liquor licenses.

Russell Bloom bids for bars’ business by auctioning liquor licenses online.

Business Cheers, Jeers New Year

GOVERNMENT: Mixed bag of regulations opened Jan. 1.

New year delivers a mixed bag of laws that will help and hinder state’s smaller businesses.

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Well-Off Oil Family Deepens Fight Over Company

ENERGY: Brother slights siblings as he takes fight to sell shares to court.

Brother looking to split from family business further divides siblings over future of World Oil.

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Wheeler Dealer

Mobi Munch’s investment raising and corporate deals are helping steer food trucks into the mainstream.

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Online Government Services Provide Links to Future

Arne Kalm would like to see more online links forged at the local level for government services.

Coming Out in the Wash

Los Angeles County brochure on clean water touts ecology while looking to soak property owners.

Patricia Donaldson thinks L.A. County is playing dirty with a misleading clean-water brochure.

Taking Different Road

Charles Crumpley believes building more roads should be driving the discussion over solutions to L.A. traffic.

Ex-Search Engine Finds Way to Video

INTERNET: Mahalo to produce YouTube channels as Inside.com.

Former search engine Mahalo hopes to find itself as YouTube channel producer named Inside.com.

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Data Bank

Calendars and Events

Name Game

Henry Stupp left T-shirt company he co-founded to take over brand licensing business Cherokee.

Cherokee CEO Henry Stupp made a name for himself after jumping from T-shirts to brand licensing.

News of the Week

Last week’s major news from labusinessjournal.com and other sources

Music Website Hopes to Tune Out Distractions

INTERNET: Focus@Will targets users’ subconscious with soothing playlists.

William Henshall might have founded the first online music streaming site that’s made to be ignored.

Equity Firm Had Its Fill of Restaurant Franchisee

INVESTMENT: Brentwood held Pacific Island for unusual eight-year stretch.

West L.A. private-equity firm Brentwood Associates usually holds on to its investments for six years or so.

Radio Station Boosts Presence With Holiday Tunes

RATINGS: KOST-FM takes seasonal crown with switch to Christmas fare.

The lyric “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” has a special ring to it for KOST-FM (103.5).

Hallmark Fare Makes Cut on Cable

TV: Parent Crown Media’s shares rise after channels retained by Time Warner.

Investors dial into Crown Media shares after the company’s cable channels dodge Time Warner’s ax.

Fresh & Easy Flop May Produce for Wal-Mart

GROCERY: Retail giant could target Tesco’s shops for new market locations.

Tesco’s plan to scrap its Fresh & Easy chain could mean more shelf life for Wal-Mart markets.

Dole Stock in Bunch of Pain as Banana Prices Slip

FOOD: Shares also hurt by delay in division’s sale to Japanese company.

Dole’s earnings forecast is tripped up as the price of bananas slips.

Off the Clock

RETAIL: Operator of short-term online fashion sales HauteLook looks to parent Nordstrom for some staying power.

HauteLook sees long-term support from parent Nordstrom for its limited-time online sales.

Regional Report

News and notes from communities across Los Angeles County

Here for Not Only Beer

Aspiring brewery owner Dave Hodgins recently acquired some noteworthy fans.

Healthy Investment

Husband-and-wife team hopes to make splash with alkaline water.

Spouses Howard and Debbie Nodelman hope to make waves with their alkaline water product.

Ex-Radio DJ’s Career Still In Spin

Trever Trent looks to push right buttons in jukebox business.

Ex-radio DJ Trever Trent now works to cue up revenue for his family’s jukebox company.

Satellite Widens Station’s Orbit

TV: KCET hopes merger deal has ratings headed up.

Public station KCET sees its prospects as sky high after linking up with satellite network Link TV.

Friday, January 4

Hulu's CEO, CTO Are Leaving Company

Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar announced that he will be resigning from the Internet video streaming company. Departing along with Kilar is Rich Tom, the company’s chief technical officer.

CBRE Expands in Atlanta Through Acquisitons

West L.A.’s CBRE Group Inc. has acquired business branches from Atlanta-based commercial real estate services firm Resource Real Estate Partners LLC and TPA Realty Services LLC for an undisclosed price.

THQ Faces Opposition to Bankruptcy Sale

Agoura Hills video game publisher THQ Inc. is facing opposition to its accelerated bankruptcy sale from creditors and the U.S. Trustee, according to a news report.

The Week’s Big Movers

The Business Journal’s index of largest local public companies gained for the week, as the broader markets reacted to passage of federal “fiscal cliff” legislation.

Stocks Rise at Week’s End

In Friday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 44 points to 13,435. The Nasdaq rose 1 point to 3,102. The S&P 500 gained 7 points to 1,466. The LABJ Stock Index rose 1 point to 140.

About This Morning’s Newsletter

Due to a problem with our e-news publisher, the Los Angeles Business Journal’s morning news round-up was sent with branding and advertising from our sister paper, the Orange County Business Journal. We are resending the newsletter with the correct information and apologize for any confusion.

L.A. to Establish City Contracting Office

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is creating a city contracting office to ensure that all businesses have equal access to city contracts, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports.

Cottage Industry of Birth Tourism Grows in L.A.

Companies operating “maternity hotels” are catering to pregnant women from Chinese-speaking nations who want an American-citizen newborn, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Economy Adds Only 155,000 Jobs

U.S. job growth slowed slightly in December, showing that the economy muddled along as Congress fought over tax increases and spending cuts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Audit Urges Key Changes at County Assessor's Office

An audit of the embattled Los Angeles County assessor's office released late Thursday recommends key changes, including the appointment of a chief deputy with "managerial competence" and the requirement that private tax consultants register with the county, the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News report.

Economic Activity Roundup

New orders received by U.S. factories were flat in November, Reuters reports, missing expectations as demand for aircraft sank sharply. But a separate Commerce Department figure seen as a gauge of business spending plans is still a positive sign for the economy. The Associated Press reports that U.S. service firms expanded in December by the most in nearly a year.

Google Emerges From FTC Probe Relatively Unscathed

Google Inc. on Thursday settled a U.S. government probe into its business practices without making any major concessions on how the company runs its Internet search engine, the world's most influential gateway to digital information and commerce, the Associated Press reports. CNet notes that the search engine giant still faces scrutiny in Europe over its practices.

Rich Catch a Break in Budget Deal

The budget deal passed by Congress Jan. 1 and signed into law by President Barack Obama makes permanent the estate-and-gift tax exemptions that wealthy Americans raced to take advantage of when their fate was uncertain, Bloomberg News reports. Congress also didn’t go as far as the president proposed in restricting top earners’ use of tax breaks such as mortgage interest and charitable deductions.

‘Star Wars’ Creator George Lucas Engaged to Businesswoman

Just days after selling to Disney the production company that "Star Wars" built, George Lucas announced he will marry longtime girlfriend Mellody Hobson, president of Chicago investment firm Ariel Investments LLC, the Hollywood Reporter and Chicago Sun-Times report.

Solar Stocks Surge After Buffett Buys Plants

Solar stocks were burning up Thursday, led by a 41-percent share price boom for SunPower, which this week said it sold a pair of massive Southern California solar power plants to a Warren Buffett company, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Kimmel's Move Primes Pump for Late-Night TV Shuffle

With Leno's and Letterman's stars on the wane, Jimmy Kimmel's talk show shift to an earlier time slot on ABC may herald the rise of a host for a new TV generation, the Los Angeles Times reports.

E-Reader Revolution: Over Just as It Has Begun?

Dedicated devices for reading e-books have been a hot category for the past half-dozen years, but the shrinking sizes and falling prices of full-featured tablet computers are raising questions about the fate of reading-only gadgets like Amazon.com Inc.'s original Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc.'s first Nooks, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Stocks Mixed This Morning

In Friday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 7 points to 13,399. The Nasdaq fell nearly 3 points to 3,098. The S&P 500 was up nearly 3 points to 1,462.

Villaraigosa Establishes City Contracting Office

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is creating a city contracting office to ensure that all businesses have equal access to city contracts.

Thursday, January 3

Related to Break Ground on Grand Avenue

New York developer Related Cos. said that it will break ground on the first building of its long-delayed Grand Avenue project in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 10.

Clearlake Capital Closes Third Fund

Clearlake Capital Group L.P. has closed fundraising for its third private equity fund with more than $785 million in equity commitments.

PC Mall Becomes PCM Inc.

PCM Inc., formerly PC Mall Inc., announced that it had changed its corporate name.

Tetra Tech Makes Two Acquisitions

Tetra Tech Inc. has acquired an Ohio provider of solid waste management services and a Canadian pipeline services company.

Stocks Down at Close

In Thursday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 21 points to 13,391. The Nasdaq fell 12 points to 3,100. The S&P 500 rose 3 points to 1,459. The LABJ Stock Index was unchanged at 138.

Cliff Fix Hits Small Business

The eleventh-hour deal struck by Congress this week to avert the so-called fiscal cliff has many small firms – particularly those whose owners report their company's profits as personal income – scrambling to redraw business plans for the year ahead, the Wall Street Journal reports, which also looked at the other impacts on small business.

Consumers to See Smaller Paychecks Despite Budget Deal

Congress in its last-minute federal budget fix did not extend a payroll tax cut in place since 2008, so workers will see the tax on their paychecks rise to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent last year, reports the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News. This could strip $115 billion in disposable income from the economy this year. The Times also details other tax increases.

Hollywood Keeps Its Tax Break

The deal in Congress to advert the fiscal cliff includes something for Hollywood -- extension of a 2004 tax break for movies and TV shows that shoot mainly in the United States. The program will cost taxpayers an estimated $430 million in deductions this fiscal year and in the next, the Los Angeles Times reports.

DWP Faulted for Bypassing Bids on Lobbying Contracts

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power repeatedly bypassed its competitive bidding process when it awarded $480,000 in contracts to lobby Sacramento decision-makers, according to a report issued by City Controller Wendy Greuel, the Los Angeles Times reports.

$96 Million Write-Down Expected on DreamWorks Film

At least one analyst predicts that DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. may end up losing nearly $100 million on its holiday release "Rise of the Guardians," the Los Angeles Times reports.

L.A. Pot Shop Initiative Moves Forward

One of two voter initiatives that would allow continued operation of medical marijuana shops in Los Angeles is significantly closer to enactment, the Los Angeles Daily News and Southern California Public Radio report. The measure, which appears to have gathered a sufficient number of signatures, would reduce by hundreds the number of pot shops operating in the city, but it would allow continued operation of about 100.

Whistle-Blower Loses Bid to Challenge Aranesp Deal

A doctor who accused Amgen Inc. of illegally marketing drugs failed to persuade a federal judge to hold a hearing in which he could challenge the company’s $612 million civil settlement of misbranding claims, Bloomberg News reports.

Former Hilton Exec to Head L.A. Tourism Board

Ernest Wooden Jr., a former executive with Hilton Hotels Corp., has been named president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Santa Monica Considers Fining Fitness Instructors Using Parks

In a city where fitness is held at a premium, Santa Monica officials are considering a big fine on aerobics instructors who use public parks to teach, CBS News Los Angeles reports. City officials also have discussed charging trainers a $100 annual fee, taking 15 percent of their gross revenue and possibly also banning certain parks from being used for workout lessons.

Autopsy Planned for Sterling's Son

Although L.A. County Sheriff's Department officials said preliminary evidence suggests that Scott Sterling, the 32-year-old son of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, died of a drug overdose, detectives are waiting for autopsy and toxicology results to determine the official cause of death, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Websites Increasingly Vary Offers Based on User Information

It was the same Swingline stapler, on the same Staples.com website. But for Kim Wamble, the price was $15.79, while the price on Trude Frizzell's screen, just a few miles away, was $14.29. A key difference: where Staples seemed to think they were located, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation, which concludes that the idea of an unbiased, impersonal Internet is fast giving way to an online world that is increasingly tailored and targeted.

Al Jazeera Buys Current TV in U.S. Expansion

Current TV, the network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore, has been sold for about $500 million to Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based cable-news channel, Bloomberg News reports.

U.S. Electricity Use on Wane

Americans are using more gadgets, televisions and air conditioners than ever before. But, oddly, their electricity use is barely growing, posing a daunting challenge for the nation's utilities, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Despite Cable-Cost Crackdown, New Channels Keep Coming

Players ranging from WWE to ABC News and Univision will again try to elbow their way onto pay-TV program guides this year. But 2013 may prove particularly inhospitable for upstart networks as cable and satellite distributors get serious about mitigating rising content costs, Ad Age reports.

Stocks Mixed This Morning

In Thursday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 5 points to 13,407. The Nasdaq was up more than 1 point to 3,114. The S&P 500 rose 1 point to 1,463.

Wednesday, January 2

Son of Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Found Dead

The son of L.A. real estate tycoon and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been found dead of an apparent drug overdose in his Malibu home.

Brentwood Associates Sells Portfolio Company to Nazarian Firm

Brentwood Associates has sold Pacific Island Restaurants Inc., a large Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchisee in the Pacific Rim, to the Century City private investment arm of Nazarian Enterprises.

U.S. HealthWorks Announces Chicago Acquisitions

U.S. HealthWorks said that it has entered the Illinois market with the acquisition of three Chicago-area occupational medicine and urgent care centers.

Korn/Ferry Completes Minnesota Acquisition

Korn/Ferry International has completed its acquisition of Minneapolis staffing firm PDI Ninth House.

Gores Group Completes Therakos Acquisition

The Gores Group has completed the acquisition of medical device maker Therakos Inc. from Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics Inc.

Fiscal Cliff Deal Boost Stocks

In Wednesday trading, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 308 points, or more than 2 percent, to 13,413. The Nasdaq rose 93 points, or 3 percent, to 3,112. The S&P 500 rose 36 points, or 2.5 percent, to 1,462. The LABJ Stock Index rose more than 3 points, or 3 percent, to 138.

Debt Ceiling Still Looms

Congress may have passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. But, as the Wall Street Journal and Reuters report, the bill – which blocks most of the impending tax increases and postponed spending cuts largely by raising taxes on upper-income Americans – left a host of issues unresolved.

Ex-Live Nation Chairman Wanted Return to Entrepreneurship

News of Irving Azoff’s New Year’s Eve exit from Live Nation Entertainment Inc. came as a surprise to many music industry observers, but it had been some time in the making, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Prop 13 Reform Legislation Proposed

Three and a half decades after the passage of Proposition 13 shook the political landscape in California and sparked a taxpayer revolt across America, voters and legislators appear to be open to reforming the initiative as long as protections for homeowners stay intact, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

Pump Location a Major Factor in Gas Prices

Record gasoline prices last year, and calls for investigation of California's fuel markets, have brought into focus a peculiarity of the state's service station industry: the wild swings in price any brand has from one location to the next, the Los Angeles Times reports.

SpaceX Chief Buys Bel-Air Home

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who founded Hawthorne rocket maker SpaceX and the Internet payment company that would become PayPal, has bought a 1.7-acre mansion in Bel-Air for $17 million, the Los Angeles Times reports.

2012 a Good Year for Pricey Homes in L.A.

Last year was the best for high-end home sales since the housing bubble burst, the Los Angeles Times reports. Twice as many homes were sold in the $5-million-plus range in Los Angeles County than three years ago, the low mark after the housing crash.

Report Links Google, Yahoo to Internet Piracy Sites

A new report from USC's Annenberg Innovation Lab says Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., two Internet companies that have long cultivated relationships in Hollywood, nevertheless are placing ads on sites that feature pirated movies, TV shows and music, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Companies Prepare for Health Law

One of the biggest decisions for many companies this year will be what to do about their health benefits. The Wall Street Journal reports that businesses have only 12 months before the major provisions of the federal overhaul law take effect.

U.S. Manufacturing Up, Construction Spending Down

U.S. manufacturing grew slowly in December after shrinking in November. The modest gain suggests the economy is entering the new year with some momentum, the Associated Press reports, although separate government figures also show that builders spent less on construction projects in November, the first decline in eight months.

Report: 2013 Auto Sales Will Be Strong

An auto industry research firm says an improving economy and a host of new models should push U.S. auto sales above 15 million this year, the Associated Press reports.

Hong Kong's Hottest Real Estate? Parking Spaces

In land-scarce Hong Kong, the hottest properties have no walls, windows or even front doors. The Los Angeles Times reports that single parking slots are now selling for more than some modest Southern California homes.

Stocks Rise on Budget Deal

The federal "fiscal cliff" compromise sent the stock market shooting higher in early trading on the first trading day of the new year, the Associated Press and Reuters report.

Budget Deal Boost Stocks

In Wednesday morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 231 points, or nearly 2 percent, to 13,334. The Nasdaq rose 70 points, or 2 percent, to 3,088. The S&P 500 rose 26 points, or nearly 2 percent, to 1,451