STADIUM LAW: Controversial legislation granting Anschutz Entertainment Group the right to expedite legal challenges to a proposed football stadium in downtown Los Angeles passed the state Assembly. The bill by two Democratic lawmakers from Los Angeles County – Assembly Speaker John Perez and Sen. Alex Padilla – will allow AEG to fast-track any legal challenges raised by stadium opponents under the California Environmental Quality Act. It also will require AEG to take additional steps to reduce the environmental and traffic impacts of the stadium on the surrounding neighborhood. The law passed on a 59-13 vote and was scheduled for Senate consideration at press time.
BUY RATING: Shares of United Online Inc., a Woodland Hills Internet company, rose after an analyst at Benchmark Co. started coverage with a “buy” rating. Analyst Daniel Kurnos said in a note to investors that the market has assigned little to no value to United’s media and retail segment, thus undervaluing the entire company. United Online originally provided Internet access via dial-up connections. The company is shifting its business model to publishing, using cash from the dial-up operation to buy properties such as the FTD flower e-commerce site and Memory Lane, a site formerly called Classmates.com. Kurnos gave the stock a 12-month target price of $7 per share. Seven analysts follow United Online. Five rate the company “buy” or “outperform,” while two give it a “hold” rating.
SELL-OFF: Simulations Plus Inc., a Lancaster pharmaceutical research firm, released preliminary financials for fourth quarter 2011, sparking a sell-off of shares that pushed the stock price down. The company provides software and consulting services to help biotechnology companies develop new drugs. It also has a subsidiary, Words Plus, that makes computer accessories for disabled and speech-impaired individuals. For the most recent quarter, preliminary revenue for the Words Plus segment fell 20 percent to $692,000, while total revenue dropped 4 percent to $2.1 million.
NEW CFO: DineEquity, Glendale-based parent company of IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants, has named Tom Emrey chief financial officer. Emrey was executive vice president and chief operating officer at Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Prior to his tenure at Universal Studios, Emrey held executive positions at Nestle USA. Emrey’s appointment will become effective Sept. 12. He replaces John F. Tierney, who will be leaving the company after a brief transition. In a statement, Julia Stewart, DineEquity’s chief executive, thanked Tierney for refinancing the company’s long-term debt during his two years as chief financial officer. Stewart also said Emrey’s “finance and corporate strategy experience will be an important asset to DineEquity’s executive team as we continue executing on our strategic plans for Applebee’s and IHOP.”
ACQUISITION: National Technical Systems Inc. has acquired Lighting Technologies, an engineering services and testing laboratory. The Calabasas provider of testing and engineering services said it paid $6 million in cash, plus up to $1 million for a potential earn-out. Lighting Technologies of Pittsfield, Mass. had sales of about $4.6 million in the 12 months ended July 31. The company specializes in lightning protection, and caters to the aerospace, construction and wind-power markets. National Technical Systems said the deal will strengthen its nondefense industry business.
EARNINGS: AeroVironment Inc. earned $326,000 for the first quarter, compared with a net loss of $3.4 million the year before. The Monrovia company reported revenue of $62 million, a 62 percent increase.