PRICE INCREASE: 99 Cents Only Stores said it will raise its top price for the first time in 26 years to 99.99 cents in response to dramatically higher fuel and commodity costs. The .99 of a cent increase was less than had been speculated. The increase is expected to generate $12 million a year, which should cover its recent losses.
DEFENSE CONTRACTS: The U.S. Defense Department is delaying a decision on a $35 billion aerial refueling tanker contract until after a new president takes office, to allow a "cooling off" period between rivals Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Corp. The delay gives Boeing more time to revise its bid, which was based on a smaller jet than Northrop's. Northrop, which won the contract but then lost it on a Boeing appeal, received good news later in the week when the U.S. Navy awarded the Los Angeles company a $5.1 billion contract to build an aircraft carrier.
CFO LEAVES: Shares of DineEquity Inc. lost more than a quarter of their value after Glendale-based parent of operator of IHOP and Applebee's restaurants said that its chief financial officer had resigned effective immediately. The company denied that Thomas Conforti's departure was related to the charges the company took in connection with its acquisition of the Applebee's chain last year.
HOSTILE BID: Vishay Intertechnology Inc. raised its all-cash offer for El Segundo power management chip maker International Rectifier Corp. and said it plans to take the $1.7 billion bid directly to shareholders. Malvern, Pa.-based Vishay raised its bid to $23 per share, from the $21.22 it offered in August. The company plans to launch a tender offer for the company's shares, and is proposing its own slate of directors to be elected at International Rectifier's shareholders meeting next month. International Rectifier urged shareholders to take no action on the deal until it has had the opportunity to review the latest proposal.
TRUCKERS APPEAL: A trucking industry group has appealed a U.S. district judge's ruling that allows the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to move forward on their clean truck plan. The program would require trucking firms to obtain a concession from the ports and to dispatch only drivers who have undergone a security background check and hold federal transportation worker identification. The judge had previously rejected the truckers' request for an injunction. The American Trucking Association said it supports the phased retirement of older trucks, but considers the concessions requirement an attempt by the ports to impose restrictions on motor carriers in violation of federal law.
PLAY NICE: A federal judge has ordered the heads of Mattel Inc. and MGA Entertainment Inc. into talks aimed at settling their copyright dispute over MGA's Bratz doll franchise. In a Sept. 2 order obtained by Reuters, U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson stayed the case until Sept. 19 so Los Angeles-area toymakers can attempt to work out how much in damages MGA owes Mattel and which company has rights to the now more than $1 billion doll franchise. The judge ordered chief executives Bob Eckert of Mattel and Isaac Larian of MGA "to make themselves available" to meet with a mediator "to discuss a global resolution of the matter." A jury in Riverside last month gave Mattel up to $100 million in damages and lost profits in the dispute over ownership of Bratz. The case centered on the extent to which MGA's popular Bratz dolls are based on drawings created by a former Mattel designer while he was still working for Mattel.
FLAT CAKE: Shares of Cheesecake Factory Inc. fell after an analyst downgraded shares, saying the upscale casual restaurant operator hasn't been aggressive enough in offering promotions to lure in customers during a slow economy. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Christopher O'Cull downgraded shares of the Calabasas Hills chain from "buy" to "neutral," and reduced his 2008 earnings-per-share estimate from $1.02 to 98 cents and his 2009 estimate from $1.05 to 98 cents.
BIGGER DEAL: Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. won a contract for almost $35 million in additional aerospace testing and facilities operations and maintenance at the NASA Ames Research Center in Northern California. The funding will allow additional testing as well as for maintenance and repairs on wind tunnels and other facilities at the Ames center at Moffett Field. The total value of the contract, which extends to July 31, is $124 million. Jacobs has been providing contract services to NASA Ames since 1998.
CONFIDENCE MIXED: California consumers are more bullish about their economic prospects in the third quarter but that might not be saying much. A survey by Chapman University's A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research found that consumer sentiment had risen to 65.1 in the third quarter from 57.6 in the second quarter. California consumers indicated they were slightly more willing to open up their pocketbooks for big-ticket items. The findings were in line with the national consumer confidence indices, which cited falling gas prices as boosting consumer confidence.
BRAND INVESTMENT: Walt Disney Studios said it will spend $100 million over the next two to three years in an attempt to extend its brand into emerging markets. Speaking at an investor conference, studios President Alan Bergman said that the company has particular interest in Russia, China and India, with plans to make Disney-branded films in local languages. International efforts now comprise about 40 percent of the Walt Disney Co. unit's business.
EARNINGS: AeroVironment Inc. reported first quarter results on higher revenue that beat Wall Street's expectations. The Monrovia developer of unmanned aircraft systems reported net income of $4.8 million for the quarter ended Aug. 2, compared with $3.8 million a year ago. Revenue rose 9 percent to $53.6 million. Point.360 reported break-even results for its fiscal fourth quarter, an improvement from a net loss of $1.2 million a year ago. The Burbank provider of integrated media management services said revenue rose 6 percent to $45.2 million.
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