May 14 - 20
Earnings Roundup: Computer Sciences Corp. reported fourth-quarter net income of $190.6 million, compared with $162.7 million for the like period a year earlier. Revenue for the El Segundo-based computer systems company rose 30 percent, to $4 billion. JB Oxford Holdings Inc. reported a first-quarter net loss of $2.2 million, compared with a loss of $681,000 for the like period a year ago. The Beverly Hills-based brokerage is under investigation for its possible involvement in the mutual fund trading scandal.
Network Lineups: The networks rolled out their new shows for next summer and fall. NBC will add "Friends" spinoff "Joey" and four other new shows in August, an earlier rollout than in the past, to retain viewers after it broadcasts the Olympic games. All told, the network will add seven more shows throughout the 2004-05 season. ABC, with a new executive team, will focus on dramas, including a spinoff of the successful series "The Practice," which just completed a long run. CBS will rely on its successful "C.S.I." franchise, adding a New York edition of the crime show. The top-rated network will be adding only two comedies to its lineup. Fox will debut six programs in June that will include a courtroom drama, "The Jury," and a reality show, "The Casino." Fox will debut its new shows in three shifts over the year.
Housing Boom: Real estate prices continued to run up in April, with the median price of a single-family home reaching $387,000, up 27.7 percent from a year earlier. Sales, however, were down 5.8 percent for the month, pointing to the area's tight supply of housing. Some experts expect prices to soften as a result of higher interest rates.
Sony Talks: Howard Stringer (photo), chief executive of Sony Corp.'s U.S. unit, confirmed that the company is in talks for a possible purchase of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Stringer, speaking at Sony's annual strategy meeting, said the company is undertaking an exclusive analysis of the Los Angeles-based movie studio.
Gas Update: There was another jump in pump prices for the week ended May 17, according to a survey by the Energy Information Administration. An average gallon of self-serve regular in the Los Angeles area was $2.304, up from $2.250. L.A. continues to be the highest-priced market in the survey. Statewide, an average gallon of gas was $2.269, up from $2.223. Separately, Sen. Barbara Boxer accused Shell Oil Co. of expediting plans to shut down its Bakersfield refinery this summer, which would create further supply problems. Shell said the closure wouldn't happen until after Labor Day.
Newspaper Deal: Freedom Communications Inc., parent of the Orange County Register and other media properties, completed its restructuring. More than half the members of the founding Hoiles family cashed in their holdings as part of an agreement in which two private-equity investors, Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners, will become major investors. Terms of the restructuring guarantee that the remaining family members will hold at least 50.1 percent voting power.
Pooh Ruling: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles W. McCoy refused to step down from the case involving litigation over "Winnie the Pooh" royalties. McCoy had thrown out the claims by Stephen Slesinger Inc. against Walt Disney Co. over unpaid royalties, and then Slesinger asked the judge to disqualify himself because he had written a book in which he made favorable comments about Disney. Another judge must now review Slesinger's claims.
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