Stories for March 2007

Friday, March 30

L.A. Billionaires Up Bid for Tribune Co.

The lukewarm bidding for Chicago-based media company Tribune Co. has heated up, with Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle submitting a last-minute bid for the owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

Option One Sale Hampered by Subprime Meltdown

H & R; Block Inc. still is in talks to sell its Irvine-based subprime lending unit but won't get a deal done this month as earlier hoped because of the sector's meltdown, the Kansas City-based tax preparer said Friday.

Dell: Audit Found Evidence of Misconduct

In the most serious admission yet of the extent of Dell Inc.'s financial woes, the company's internal audit committee said it has found a number of accounting errors and evidence of misconduct in its months-long review of previous earnings statements.

Consumer, Construction Spending Rise

Consumers spent more in February while construction spending rose by the largest amount in 11 months, the government said Friday, in reports that should dispel some of the concerns about the health of the economy.

Impac Up on Mortgage Bond Sales

Shares of Irvine-based Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. rose on Friday after the mortgage investor said its loans packaged as bonds found buyers in the first quarter.

Thursday, March 29

M-Flex Falls on Warning, Motorola Worries

Shares of Anaheim-based circuit board maker Multi-Fineline Electronix fell more than 11% Thursday, a day after warning of slower sales to its biggest customer, slumping cellphone maker Motorola Inc.

Hitachi Shores Up U.S. Unit With $1B

Hitachi Ltd., Japan's biggest electronics conglomerate, said on Thursday its parent company has shored up struggling subsidiary Hitachi America with a $1 billion injection.

CarMax Earnings Rise 15%

CarMax Inc., the largest retailer of used cars in the United States, posted a 15% rise in quarterly earnings on Thursday, helped by strong sales and Internet traffic.

Wet Seal Offers Outlook, Latest Quarterly Results

Foothill Ranch-based teen clothing retailer Wet Seal Inc. said it sees higher same-store sales for March.

Phone Deal Goes to Qwest, AT & T;, Verizon

Qwest Communications International Inc., AT & T; Inc. and Verizon Inc. on Thursday were awarded the government's largest telecommunications contract ever, a 10-year deal worth up to $48 billion.

Shares of SenoRx Debut

Shares of Aliso Viejo medical device maker SenoRx Inc. debuted Thursday, closing 12% above their twice-reduced asking price.

Wednesday, March 28

Heart Valve Maker Raises $33 Million

CoreValve Inc., a heart valve maker that moved from France to Irvine last year, has raised $33 million in a third round of venture funding.

HP Sues Acer for Patent Breach

Hewlett-Packard Co. said it had sued Taiwan computer maker Acer Inc. for patent infringement, pressuring Acer shares.

People's Choice Looking to Auction Off Loans

Bankrupt mortgage lender People's Choice Home Loan Inc. is looking to auction off the subprime home loans it owns, the company said in court filings this week.

Bernanke: Mortgage Woes Not Spreading

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Wednesday that growing troubles in the market for risky mortgages thus far doesn't appear to be spreading to the overall economy but the situation bears close watching.

Beazer Facing Widespread Probe

Beazer Homes USA Inc., the No. 6 U.S. home builder, said on Wednesday it received a request for documents from federal prosecutors in a probe relating to its mortgage business, sending its shares down as much as 11.8%.

Tuesday, March 27

Pacific Life Selling Three Stock Brokerages

Newport Beach-based Pacific Life Insurance Co. is selling three of its stock brokerages after nearly a year of negotiations.

Consumer Confidence Drops in March

Rising gasoline prices and stock market turbulence undermined consumer confidence in March, increasing worries about one of the economy's pillars, a widely watched index showed on Tuesday.

Lennar Quarterly Profit Falls

Lennar Corp., one of the nation's largest homebuilders, said Tuesday its first-quarter profit tumbled 73% on continued softness in the housing market made worse by problems with subprime lenders. Lennar also warned it doesn't expect to meet its 2007 earni

Housing Prices Fall in Jan.

Prices of single-family homes across the nation depreciated in January compared to a year ago, the worst results in more than 13 years, a housing index released Tuesday by Standard & Poor's showed.

Orqis Medical Raises Additional $12M

Orqis Medical Corp., a Lake Forest heart device maker, said Tuesday that it raised an additional $12 million as part of its fourth round of venture funding.

Pickens' Clean Energy Ups IPO Size

Seal Beach-based Clean Energy Fuels Inc., backed by legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens, has upped the size of its pending public offering to $345 million from $287.5 million, according to an updated federal filing.

Monday, March 26

HealthSouth to Sell Surgery Unit for $945M

HealthSouth Corp., the nation's largest rehabilitation services provider, said on Monday it has agreed to sell its surgery division to the privately held investment firm TPG for $945 million as it continues to focus on its inpatient rehabilitation hospita

Investor Pays $43M for Tustin Complex

A Tustin apartment complex sold for $43 million with one of the lowest expected return rates from rents

Biz Council Sits Out Disney Rally; Coast Lot Hot

Biz Council Sits Out Disney Rally; Coast Lot Hot

Founders Long Gone, Hunter Barth Takes New Name

Hunter Barth has a new partner and a new name, in the Media & Marketing column

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This past week's news from www.ocbj.com and other sources

3-D Funding

A medical imaging startup targeting drug researchers raised $2.5 million

Beckman: $1.5B for Maker of Heart Disease Tests

Fullerton-based Beckman Coulter Corp. is buying San Diego's Biosite Inc. for $1.5 billion, its biggest deal since predecessor Beckman Instruments Inc. bought Florida's Coulter Corp. a decade ago.

Fallout of Subprime Market Sees Banks, Hedge Funds Looking for Cheap Deals

Fallout of Subprime Market Sees Banks, Hedge Funds Looking for Cheap Deals

Construction Starts on Mission Hospital's Expansion

Mission Hospital is the latest St. Joseph Health System hospital to join the construction race, in the Healthcare column

GIVING

Fund-raisers and charitable donations from companies and people

MARKET WATCH

Week's Best, Worst Performers; Roth OC50, Billion Dollar Club, OC Tech; Index Watch, 52-week Performance

AROUND THE COUNTY

Projects, developments and other activity in cities in and around OC

Decker Leaving Conexant Systems

Dwight Decker, chief executive of Conexant Systems Inc., plans to retire again from the Newport Beach-based chipmaker this fall, the company said Monday. Decker, 57, will remain as non-executive chairman after a replacement is hired.

February Detached Home Prices Up From January

The price of an Orange County detached home rose slightly from January to February but still is down 3.9% from the median price seen a year ago, the California Association of Realtors said.

DONE DEAL

OC Hot Spot With Corporate America; Number of Deals, Value Down

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County

Healthy Healthcare

Industry Sees Number of Sales, Buys; Sybron Sale, IntraLase Buy at the Top

REAL ESTATE DEALS

Sales and leases of offices, industrial buildings, retail space and apartments

Judge Lets Europeans in on Vivendi Suit

A federal judge in New York has ruled that French, English and Dutch citizens who bought Vivendi shares before the French media-to-telecom group neared bankruptcy in 2002 are allowed to join a U.S. class action against the company that was initiated by Vi

EDITORIAL

Chris Dodd hearings; Disney vs. SunCal. Commentary by Rick Reiff

New Century Founders Saw Payoff In Boom, Face Uncertainty Now

New Century's founders saw a stunning run earlier this decade,what's next for them now?

Heirs Led Buyout Deal at Swimsuit Maker Raj

The second generation of family run swimsuit maker Raj Manufacturing Inc. of Tustin has led an investor-backed buyout of the company started by their parents 40 years ago.

Benihana Wows With New Makeover, 'Eatertainment'

Benihana in Anaheim goes modern with its new look, in the Executive Dining column

God's Mission Gets Helping Hand From Local Execs

Preserving Mission San Juan Capistrano takes more than prayer

Hip To Be Square

Broadcom's new headquarters is a bit square

Familiar Face Runs Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Store

A local Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture store is more than comfortable with some recent exposure, in the Marketplace column

PEOPLE

Hirings, promotions and other moves at local businesses

Defense Spending

Local Industry Could See More Deals as Some Forecast Decline in Business

County Places 9th in Projected Subprime Foreclosures

OC's No. 9 in the country when it comes to projected subprime loan foreclosures, in the Real Estate column

New Home Sales Fall 3.9%

Sales of new U.S. homes unexpectedly fell 3.9% in February to the lowest rate in nearly seven years while the number of new homes on the market grew, according to a government report on Monday that showed more signs of weakness in the housing sector.

Unwanted Deal's Back on for Multi-Fineline

The marriage of M-Flex and MFS Technology isn't dead after all

Big Blue, Others Came Calling

IBM, HP, EMC, Apple Veterans Led Buying in Past Year

OCBJ SUPPLEMENTS and GUIDES

HUMAN RESOURCES GUIDE

REVIEW

Get in touch with nature at the James and Rosemary Nix Nature Center in Laguna Beach, a Review

Wi-Fi Ward

Hospitals are looking to wireless systems as better communication tools

They Say

A look at those nutty bankers and the wacky Congress in the wake of the subprime meltdown.

Pacific Life Selling 3 Stock Brokerages

Pacific Life Insurance is selling three of its stock brokerages after almost a year of negotiations

Real Estate Watch: Manufacturing and Warehouse

The manufacturing and warehouse sector saw rising rents and sale prices, as well as historically low vacancy rates. PLUS: CHART - Net Absorption; Vacancy Rates; Average Asking Lease Rates

Anaheim Memorial Buyer Plans to Stress Basic Care, Surgery

A Q & A; with Prem Reddy discussing his pending buy of Anaheim Memorial Medical Center

Friday, March 23

OC's Unemployment Rate Drops in February

Orange County's unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in February, the state Employment Development Department said Friday.

Tustin Apartment Complex Sells for $43M

A Tustin apartment complex just sold for $43 million with one of the lowest expected return rates from rents seen here lately.

Medical Device Maker Set to Go Public

SenoRx Inc., an Aliso Viejo medical device maker, is poised to go public next week.

Existing Homes Rose 3.9% in February

The pace of U.S. existing home sales rose an unexpected 3.9% in February to a 6.69 million-unit annual rate as mild weather spurred home buying, the National Association of Realtors said on Friday.

Freddie Mac Posts Quarterly Loss of $480M

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac, emerging from an accounting scandal, reported Friday it lost $480 million in the fourth quarter as a result of moves in interest rates that hurt its business of guaranteeing home loans.

GE to Buy Sanyo Credit for $1.1B

General Electric Co. said on Friday it would launch a $1.14 billion takeover bid for leasing firm Sanyo Electric Credit Co. to further expand into Japan's $68 billion leasing market.

Thursday, March 22

U.S. States Oppose Bailout to Subprime Lenders

Congress should not bail out subprime lenders and brokers who made risky mortgage loans to borrowers with bad credit, but lawmakers can take several steps to protect consumers going forward, a representative of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors sai

ConAgra Foods: Quarterly Profit of $192.6M

ConAgra Foods Inc. earned $192.6 million in the third quarter despite a massive recall of all of its peanut butter products after they were linked to a salmonella outbreak, the company reported Thursday.

Countrywide's Failed Subrime Loans Could be Worst

Countrywide's subprime mortgage defaults for 2006 loans may exceed the company's highest on record, a company executive told a government panel examining mortgage lending.

Blackstone Group Files for $4 Billion IPO

Private equity firm Blackstone Group LP filed with regulators on Thursday to sell a portion of the company for an initial public offering of around $4 billion of common units.

Allergan's Pyott: $12M in 2006 Compensation

Allergan Inc. Chief Executive David Pyott saw a big payday in 2006, a year in which he oversaw a major acquisition that boosted the Irvine company in medical cosmetics.

Jobless Claims Fall, Leading Indicator Slips

A surprise drop in the number of new claims filed for jobless aid pointed to a healthy U.S. labor market, but a forward-looking measure of the economy showed momentum has slowed, data released on Thursday showed.

New Century Hires Adviser

Irvine's New Century Financial Corp. has hired an adviser known for its work on corporate restructuring and bankruptcy cases.

New Century Gets Break on $900M in Loans

Irvine-based New Century Financial Corp. said on Thursday it would see a $46 million loss from a deal it struck with Barclays PLC that released the subprime lender from buying back $900 million in loans.

Wednesday, March 21

Morgan Stanley Earnings Jump to Record

Morgan Stanley posted a 60% jump in quarterly earnings on Wednesday, exceeding expectations on blowout results from debt and equity trading.

Fed Holds Rates Steady

The U.S. Federal Reserve held interest rates steady on Wednesday and said it remained concerned about inflation, but dropped its reference to the possibility of pushing rates higher, leaving its options open.

Home Loan Demand Drops for First Time in Weeks

U.S. mortgage applications fell last week for the first time in four weeks, reflecting a drop in demand for home refinancing even as interest rates hovered near recent lows, an industry trade group said on Wednesday.

Motorola Warns of Q1 Loss

Motorola Inc. warned on Wednesday it will post a first-quarter loss and cut its revenue forecast to far below Wall Street expectations due to weak cell phone sales, driving shares down nearly 6%.

Li Out; Amelio In at Jazz Technologies

Shu Li, who guided Newport Beach-based Jazz Semiconductor Inc. since its spinoff from Conexant Systems Inc. in 2002, has resigned from the company that was bought out and taken public less than a month ago.

Broadcom-Qualcomm Hearing Under Way

The U.S. International Trade Commission today starts considering penalties against San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. in a patent infringement case against Broadcom Corp. of Irvine.

Valeant CFO Resigns

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, an Aliso Viejo drug maker, said Wednesday that Bary Bailey, its chief financial officer, resigned.

Fremont Sells Portion of Loan Portfolio

Santa Monica-based Fremont General Corp. said Wednesday that it's selling $4 billion of loans made by its shuttered Brea-based subprime mortgage division.

Fed Looks Set to Stay Course Amid Housing Turmoil

Caught between stubbornly elevated U.S. inflation and signs of weaker economic growth, the Federal Reserve is expected to hold interest rates steady as it wraps up a two-day policy-setting meeting on Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 20

Lender People's Choice Files for Chapter 11

The parent company of Irvine-based subprime lender People's Choice Financial Corp. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Fannie Mae Cuts Off New Century

Irvine's New Century Financial Corp. no longer can sell mortgages to Fannie Mae, the nation's largest funder of home loans.

Home Construction Rebounds in February

Construction of new homes rebounded in February after a big decline in the previous month, but building permits slid further, indicating more problems down the road for the troubled housing industry.

Edwards Gets OK for Valve Trial

Edwards Lifesciences Corp. of Irvine said Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration cleared it to start a clinical study on a less-invasive heart valve.

Affiliated Computer: $5.9B Buyout Offer

Affiliated Computer Services Inc.'s founder Darwin Deason said on Tuesday he and investment fund Cerberus Capital Management have offered to buy the computer services company for about $5.9 billion.

Fed to Keep Rates Steady Amid Subprime Woes

Federal Reserve policy-makers opened a two-day meeting on Tuesday likely to feature discussions about rising mortgage defaults and softer economic growth, but no change in U.S. interest rates.

Treasurys Higher as Fed Meeting Gets Under Way

Treasury prices rose Tuesday, sending yields lower, as the Federal Reserve's two-day deliberation on interest rates got under way.

Ameriquest Out of Ranger Stadium Deal

Orange-based subprime lender Ameriquest has ended its sponsorship of the home of baseball's Texas Rangers.

STEC Appoints New President

STEC Inc. chief technical officer and chief operating officer Mark Moshayedi was named president of the Santa Ana-based maker of flash memory products on Tuesday.

Monday, March 19

Bausch Eyes Local Eye Device Startup With Option to Buy

An Irvine eye device startup has backing from Bausch & Lomb

PEOPLE

Hirings, promotions and other moves at local businesses

Sushi Maker Targets $60M in Sales at Stores This Year

A sushi maker's looking to do about $60 million in sales this year, in the Small Business column

NAI Capital Closes Pair of Deals for About $45 Million

The Newport Beach office of NAI Capital's been closing some larger deals of late, in the Real Estate column

Nokia Files Claims Against Qualcomm in Europe

The world's top cellphone maker Nokia said on Monday it had filed complaints against Qualcomm patents in Germany and the Netherlands.

Investors Buy Near-Majority Stake in Alliance Medical

Alliance Imaging Inc., the Anaheim medical diagnostic services provider, said Monday a pair of investors bought a combined 49.7% stake in the company.

MARKET WATCH

Week's Best, Worst Performers; Roth OC50, Billion Dollar Club, OC Tech; Index Watch, 52-week Performance

Beckman Ripe for Acquisition Activity, Analyst Says

Beckman could be looking to buy or may be an acquisition target, according to an analyst, in the Healthcare column

Build to Suit

2007 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award - Bob Olson, CEO and founder of R.D. Olson Construction and R.D. Olson Development

Deal or No Deal

2007 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award - David Wilson, Owner, David Wilson Automotive Group

MEDIEVAL TIMES DINNER & TOURNAMENT

Medieval Times is a bit of Middle Ages pomp in kitschy Buena Park

Real Estate Watch: North/Central County

North and Central OC's lease rates increased in the fourth quarter, while vacancy rates held steady. PLUS: CHART - Net Absorption; Vacancy Rates; Average Asking Lease Rates

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County

Disney-backed Ballot Initiative Unveiled

A group of Anaheim tourism businesses and community leaders called Save Our Anaheim Resort Area filed a ballot initiative Monday with the city of Anaheim that would give voters a say over changes to the Anaheim Resort District.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This past week's news from www.ocbj.com and other sources

ServiceMaster Accepts $4.7B Bid From Clayton

ServiceMaster Co., which owns TruGreen LawnCare and Terminix pest control, said on Monday that it had accepted a $4.7 billion takeover bid from a group led by private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Inc.

Inside Emulex

Emulex's new leader runs a "balanced democracy," in Corner Offices

Kudos

A look at people, companies and institutions receiving awards, accolades, grants and other honors

Meet the Man Who's Making The Mouse Roar

Meet the Man Who's Making The Mouse Roar

Local.com Working on Turnaround, Nabs Investment

Local.com is looking to turn things around and a Hearst Media unit is giving a helping hand, in the Technology column

New Century's Fast Crash

The meltdown of Irvine subprime lender New Century Financial likely is the quickest and steepest downfall ever for an OC company. By Michael Lyster, Editor of the Business Journal

Ad Speak

Agency Execs Talk Billings, Standout Campaigns, Challenges

Apria Surges as Medicare Worries Fade

Apria's shares have seen a recent surge after the company beat back possible Medicare payment cuts

Rags to Riches

2007 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award - Glenn Stearns, founder and chairman of Stearns Cos.

Beauty Confessions

PureOlogy CEO Once Cut Sinatra's Hair, Now Has Product Line

Valeant Sells Former HQ; Owners Seek Big Tenant

Valeant Pharmaceuticals found a buyer for its former headquarters in Costa Mesa

Triad: $5.1 Billion Community Health Offer

Triad Hospitals Inc. said on Monday it agreed to be bought by Community Health Systems Inc. for $5.1 billion, which Community said would create the biggest publicly traded U.S. hospital chain.

Piano Man

2007 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award - Ralph Opacic, founder and head of Orange County High School of the Arts

Fremont Laying Off Workers at Brea Unit

Santa Monica-based Fremont General Corp. said Monday it's letting go a number of its 2,400 workers at its Brea-based subprime mortgage unit.

Back From Desert With a Recommendation for Tucson

Fifi's latest travel adventure took her to Tucson, in the Executive Dining column

Western Digital Device Takes Page From Apple

Western Digital is wading deeper into the consumer market with a line of storage devices that can be accessed anywhere

Tivo'd Out

Agencies Go Online, Stage Stunts as Role of Traditional Spots Wane

Landlords, Tenants Stake Ground in Meltdown

The subprime mortgage industry's sudden crash has created a standoff between office tenants and landlords

Friday, March 16

Subprime Lender Accredited in Deal to Sell Loans

Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co., a big U.S. subprime lender hit by a cash squeeze, said on Friday it will sell $2.7 billion in loans, a move that buys it more time and sent its stock up 27 percent in early trading.

Subprime Lender Fremont Gets Expanded Credit

Santa Monica-based Fremont General Corp. said Friday it's lined up a $1 billion expanded credit line that should boost sale prospects for its shuttered Brea-based subprime mortgage business.

Blackstone Reportedly Close to Launching IPO

Private equity firm Blackstone Group is deep into preparations for an initial public offering of the entire firm, according to a report on Friday, a move that would be counter to the views of its CEO on the public markets.

Gateway Exec Has $2.7M Quarter

Gateway Inc. Chief Executive Ed Coleman earned $2.7 million in his first quarter with the company, Securities and Exchange Commission documents show.

Pacific Sunwear Up on Analyst Comments

Shares of Anaheim retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. had their best day in a while on Friday as Wall Street looked past a big profit drop and put faith in the company's turnaround efforts.

Caremark Shareholders Approve $24.3B CVS Deal

Caremark Rx Inc. shareholders on Friday approved a $24.3 billion takeover offer from drug-store chain CVS Corp., effectively ending a months-long takeover fight with Express Scripts Inc. for the rival pharmacy benefits manager.

Thursday, March 15

Mortgage Company Stops Funding Loans

Orange-based mortgage lender Master Financial Inc. has stopped funding loans brought to it by brokers.

Bear Stearns Quarterly Profit Up 8%

Bear Stearns Cos., Wall Street's largest underwriter of mortgage securities, on Thursday reported first-quarter profit rose 8% despite a challenging environment in the subprime lending sector.

Broadcom, Qualcomm Near Deal on Patent Suit

Irvine's Broadcom Corp. appears near a settlement with rival chipmaker Qualcomm Inc., just days before trial was set to begin in San Diego.

Cisco to Pay $3.2B for WebEx

Cisco Systems Inc. said Thursday that it has agreed to acquire the online meeting company WebEx Communications Inc. for about $3.2 billion in cash.

Wholesale Prices Up 1.3% in Feb.

Inflation at the wholesale level surged in February, pushed higher by a big jump in energy prices and the largest increase in food costs in more than three years.

More Ameriquest Layoffs

Orange-based ACC Capital Holdings Corp., which has been relatively quiet during the meltdown of Orange County rival New Century Financial Corp., said Thursday it's cutting jobs.

Subprime Lender Pulls IPO Plans

Irvine-based subprime lender People's Choice Financial Corp. has withdrawn plans for a $193 million public offering, the latest casualty of the tough market for Orange County's mortgage sector.

Wednesday, March 14

New Century Delisted, Joins Pink Sheets

Shares of New Century Financial Corp. were officially booted from the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday and now trade on Pink Sheets, a haven for penny stocks.

Homebuilders Assess Exposure to Risky Mortgages

U.S. builders are assessing their exposure to home buyers with weak credit histories amid a subprime mortgage lender meltdown, while one analyst estimated the figure at 8% to 15% of their business on average.

Trade Deficit Sets Another Record

The deficit in the broadest measure of trade set a record for the fifth consecutive year even though the imbalance in the final three months of 2006 shrank, reflecting a lower foreign oil bill.

Laser Maker BioLase Swings to Profit

Irvine's BioLase Technology Inc., maker of lasers used in dentistry, swung to a profit in the fourth quarter on higher sales and lower costs.

Lehman Brothers Quarterly Profit Up 5.6%

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the No. 4 U.S. investment house, said Wednesday robust trading and overseas expansion drove its first-quarter profit up 5.6%, matching Wall Street expectations.

Judge Dismisses Case Against HP's Dunn

The case against former Hewlett-Packard Co. chairman Patricia Dunn, who ultimately resigned amid a board-leak spying scandal, was dismissed on Wednesday.

Broadcom Names Brandt CFO

Broadcom Corp., looking to distance itself from a stinging options backdating scandal, on Wednesday named Eric Brandt its chief financial officer.

H & R; Block Quarterly Loss: $60.3 Million

H & R; Block Inc. shares dropped about 5% on Wednesday after the nation's largest tax preparer said it was boosting its third-quarter loss after cutting the value of a subprime mortgage subsidiary.

Tuesday, March 13

Home Prices Up on Monthly Basis, Down Slightly Annually

The median price of Orange County home rose by $20,000 from January to February, but dropped marginally from a year ago.

Regulators Step Up New Century Probe

Irvine-based New Century Financial Corp.'s woes continued Tuesday with a stepped up investigation into stock trades and accounting errors and a pending delisting from the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares Sink as Subprime Worries Grow

Stocks plunged on Tuesday in their second-worst sell-off of the year as the impact of losses in the subprime mortgage group cascaded across the financial sector, knocking down shares of investment banks and traditional lenders.

Viacom in $1B Copyright Suit With Google, YouTube

Media conglomerate Viacom Inc. said on Tuesday that it was suing Google Inc. and its Internet video-sharing site YouTube for more than $1 billion over unauthorized use of its programming online.

GMAC to Get $1B From GM, Cites Subprime Pressure

General Motors Acceptance Corp., the former finance arm of General Motors Corp., on Tuesday said it would receive another $1 billion from GM and warned it would be hit by pressure from a weakening market for U.S. mortgages.

Landlord Maguire: Minimal New Century Exposure

Maguire Properties Inc. said on Tuesday that the potential loss of key tenant New Century Financial Corp. would not be a major blow to the Los Angeles-based office landlord.

AT & T; to Spend $750M in 2007 on Global Network

AT & T; Inc.said on Tuesday that it would spend more than $750 million in 2007 to expand its global communications network for corporate customers, an 89% rise from last year, as companies increasingly do business abroad.

Citigroup Raises Offer for Japan's Nikko by 26%

Citigroup raised its offer for Nikko Cordial Corp. by 26% to $13.4 billion on Tuesday after a decision by the Tokyo Stock Exchange not to revoke the brokerage's listing sharply boosted its value.

Monday, March 12

Developer Pinnacle in on Big Air Force Housing Deal

A trio of local companies are seeing business from a housing project for the Air Force, in the Real Estate column

OC Morning Show in Works; Manley, Jesse in Ghana

OC Morning Show in Works; Manley, Jesse in Ghana

Ex-OC Weekly Editor Starting Long Beach Paper

The former editor and others from Santa Ana's OC Weekly are starting an alternative weekly covering Long Beach.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This past week's news from www.ocbj.com and other sources

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County

Hospital Niche

An Irvine company has found a niche creating wireless and other networks for hospitals

Ingram Micro: Tax Bill for Brazilian Software Imports

Ingram Micro's first-quarter earnings could be adjusted because of a tax bill in Brazil, in the Technology column

PainePR Makes Cut in Procter & Gamble Slim Down

PainePR scored a coup with one of its biggest clients, in the Media & Marketing column

Push for Technology Stands to Benefit TriZetto, Quality

A lack of technology in hospitals and doctors' offices could be a big boost for some local software companies, in the Healthcare column

EDITORIAL

Here We Go Again; Greenspun... Commentary by Rick Reiff

La Habra Auto Tech Students Off to New York Finals

Two local high school seniors won the Orange County Auto Dealers Association's automotive technician contest, in the Marketplace column

Bright Now's Dental Plan Yields $500M in Sales

Bright Now's mixed two large deals with its own expansion to come up with a formula that's brought a smile to its chief executive

MARKET WATCH

Week's Best, Worst Performers; Roth OC50, Billion Dollar Club, OC Tech; Index Watch, 52-week Performance

Private Banking Push

BofA has plans to expand its unit that caters to wealthy customers here

Panasonic In-Flight Unit: $2.3B Backlog

Panasonic Avionics has traded its Washington headquarters for Lake Forest

Dining Deals

DINING DEALS - More Bang for Your Buck: Fifi Takes a Look at Some Dining Steals Local Restaurants Offer

AROUND THE COUNTY

Economic development and other activity in cities in and around OC, in Around the County

Countrywide: Earnings May Fluctuate

Countrywide Financial Corp., the largest U.S. mortgage lender, on Monday said it has low exposure to nonprime mortgages, but may still experience fluctuating earnings in the near term due to turmoil in the U.S. subprime market.

Retail Sales: Up Modestly in February

U.S. retail sales outside the auto sector firmed in February, but were restrained by the housing slump and rising gasoline prices, according to a report published Monday.

Mortgage Fallout Due; Layoffs, Foreclosures?

The subprime mortgage industry's meltdown has turned into a guessing game

Creditors Cut Off New Century, Trading Halted

Irvine-based subprime lender New Century Financial Corp. saw trading of its plummeting stock suspended on Monday, as the company said its lenders have or plan to halt financing.

Condos, Shops Going Up In Longtime Korean Hub

Eyes are turning to a proposed development to renew the county's historical Korean enclave

Waste Converter Startup Lands $7.1M in Funding

A Newport Beach company has raised $7.1 million in funding to develop plans for a waste-to-energy plant

Ford Sells Most of Aston Martin

Ford Motor Co. has sold a majority, $848 million stake in Aston Martin, which has its U.S. headquarters in Irvine.

Car Lot

ABOUT THE LIST 2 - The county's automakers grew their headcounts

Fletcher Nabs Top Spot Again, Battle for No. 2

ABOUT THE LIST - OC dealers saw an increase in sales

REAL ESTATE DEALS

Sales and leases of offices, industrial buildings, retail space and apartments

QUEBEC, OC, DAKOTA

Irvine-based BB Dakota was a small maker of hip women's clothes,until nZania entered the picture

Remarkable Ron

Industry Legend Ron Salisbury Named Restaurateur of the Year

Real Estate Watch: South County

Vacancy levels for all types of space in south Orange County were in the single-digits. PLUS: CHART - Net Absorption; Vacancy Rates; Average Asking Lease Rates

High-Rise Office Condo Conversion Planned

An Irvine developer is looking to turn a 10-story office building in Santa Ana into the county's first high-rise office condominium project

Ford to Sell Aston Martin in $925M Deal

Ford Motor Co. is selling British luxury car maker Aston Martin to a group fronted by former Benetton and BAR motor racing boss David Richards in a deal worth $925 million.

Businesses Decry Pension Fund's Proposed Campaign Giving Rule

A proposed regulation to rein in "pay-to-play" practices at the state's second largest public pension fund has stirred opposition

VIEWPOINT

Something needs to be done about kids' math and science scores. Commentary by Mike Lefkowitz. president of The Semel Group, a consultant to businesses and nonprofits.

UnitedHealth to Buy Sierra Health for $2.4B

Health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. said on Monday it will acquire Sierra Health Services Inc. for more than $2.4 billion to expand in the fast-growing Las Vegas area and boost its Medicare business.

Hair Care to Cars: Entrepreneurs Honored for Building Businesses

Five entrepreneurs were honored at the Business Journal's Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards

GIVING

Fund-raisers and charitable donations from companies and people

Friday, March 9

Analysts: New Century Bankruptcy 'Imminent'

Shares of embattled subprime lender New Century Financial Corp. opened down nearly 20% on Friday after analysts predicted the Irvine company soon would file for bankruptcy protection.

Airbus Woes Slash EADS Profit by 86% to $526M

Losses at planemaker Airbus slashed 2006 operating profits at Franco-German parent EADS by 86% to $526 million, but the fall was cushioned by defense profits, the group said on Friday.

Second Nikko Shareholder Dismisses Citigroup Offer

A second U.S. investment firm dismissed Citigroup's $10.8 billion buyout offer for Japanese brokerage Nikko Cordial Corp. as far too low, pressuring the U.S. bank to sweeten its bid.

Quiksilver Slumps on Outlook, Results

Shares of Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc. closed down nearly 10% on Friday, a day after the company warned about 2007 results and reported lower profits for the quarter ended Jan. 31.

Economy: Added 97,000 Payroll Jobs in February

The U.S. economy added a modest 97,000 jobs in February, the smallest gain in two years, but job growth in prior months was stronger than first thought and the unemployment rate dropped, the government said on Friday, easing fears over economic weakness.

Thursday, March 8

Costco: 2Q Earnings Down 16%

Warehouse retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. said Thursday its second-quarter profit declined 16% as costs grew faster than revenue.

February Retail Sales: Disappointing

The nation's retailers had a slow start to the spring season as unseasonably cold weather in February chilled demand for lightweight apparel and left merchants with disappointing sales. The slowing economy, particularly the weakening housing market, could

Jobless Claims Decline to One-Month Low

The number of laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits declined last week, providing a slight break from a recent rise in layoffs.

PacSun: Worse Than Expected Feb. Sales Drop

Anaheim-based teen retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. reported a worse than expected fall in February sales at stores open at least a year.

Hedge Fund Dissident Off New Century's Board

David Einhorn, president of New York-based activist hedge fund operator Greenlight Capital Inc., has resigned as a director of Irvine-based New Century Financial Corp.

Former Gateway Execs Found Liable in Fraud

A federal jury has ruled that two former executives of Irvine-based computer maker Gateway Inc. manipulated earnings so that it would appear the company met Wall Street expectations.

New Century Stops Making Loans

Embattled subprime lender New Century Financial Corp. said on Thursday it has stopped making loans, effective immediately.

Wednesday, March 7

Nikko Investors: Likely to Sell to Citigroup

Citigroup's $10.8 billion tender offer to buy Nikko Cordial Corp. looks just sweet enough to convince investors in the Japanese brokerage to sell, analysts said on Wednesday.

Express Scripts Boosts Caremark Bid

Express Scripts Inc. announced Wednesday it has increased its bid to acquire Caremark Rx Inc., but company officials said they expect closer scrutiny from federal regulators over the proposed deal.

Delphi Files to Raise $2B From Stock Offering

Auto-parts maker Delphi Corp. announced late Wednesday that it will issue almost $2 billion worth of common stock to existing shareholders as a key step toward funding its emergence from bankruptcy.

Private Sector Adds 57,000 Jobs in Feb

U.S. private employers likely added 57,000 new jobs in February, about half of what economists had expected, according to a report released on Wednesday, indicating weakness in the labor market and a slowing economy.

NO TITLE

Shares of Santa Ana-based title insurer First American Corp. rose more than 3% in early trading Wednesday on an upgrade from Lehman Brothers.

Kaiser Aluminum Goes From Huge Loss to Q4 Profit

Foothill Ranch-based aluminum parts maker Kaiser Aluminum Corp., which emerged from four years under bankruptcy organization in July, posted big gains for the fourth quarter.

Consumer Credit: Up $6.4B in January

U.S. consumer credit rose $6.44 billion in January as growth in closed-end consumer loans for cars, holidays and other big-ticket items outstripped slower growth in credit card usage, a Federal Reserve report showed on Wednesday.

Home Loan Refinancing Surges as Rates Plunge

Mortgage applications jumped last week as borrowers emerged in droves to refinance existing home loans as interest rates fell to their lowest level since early December, an industry trade group said on Wednesday.

Fremont's Subprime Unit Draws Suitors

Santa Monica-based Fremont General Corp. is in talks with "five or six companies" interested in buying its troubled Brea-based subprime mortgage business, the Santa Monica company said Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 6

East Coast Asian Grocer Readying Store in Irvine

The county's Asian supermarket sector, led by Buena Park-based Tawa Supermarkets Inc. and its 99 Ranch stores, is getting a big new player. A 25,000-square-foot H Mart, owned by Woodside, N.Y.-based Hanahreum Group, is set to open by year's end at a shopp

Citigroup: $10.8B Bid for Broker Nikko Cordial

Citigroup bid $10.8 billion for Japan's scandal-hit Nikko Cordial Corp. on Tuesday, hoping to secure its biggest Asian deal and mark its resurgence in the world's second-biggest economy.

Topps Accepts $385.4M Takeover Bid

The Topps Co., maker of baseball cards and Bazooka bubble gum, said Tuesday it accepted a $385.4 million takeover offer from a buyout group that includes former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, but the deal drew immediate opposition from one of its own board me

Bausch & Lomb Recalls Second Contact Lens Solution

Bausch & Lomb, which has been struggling to recover from a sweeping recall of its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution, said on Tuesday it had initiated a recall of certain lots of its ReNu MultiPlus contact lens solution.

Kaiser Aluminum Lands Bombardier Supply Deal

Foothill Ranch-based aluminum parts maker Kaiser Aluminum Corp. said it won a five-year contract to supply aluminum plate and sheet to Canada's Bombardier Inc.

Monday, March 5

San Diego Led California in Hotel Construction Last Year

San Diego Led California in Hotel Construction Last Year

Services Growth Surprisingly Weak

The pace of growth in the U.S. service sector posted a surprisingly sharp fall in February, retreating from January's eight-month high as new orders and prices paid declined, according to a report released on Monday.

A & P; to Buy Rival Pathmark

Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. said on Monday that it plans to buy rival grocer Pathmark Stores Inc. for $678.6 million, creating a larger company to compete in the U.S. Northeast.

German Exec Loves Mercedes, OC; It's Been 10 Years

German Exec Loves Mercedes, OC; It's Been 10 Years

MARKET WATCH

Week's Best, Worst Performers; Roth OC50, Billion Dollar Club, OC Tech; Index Watch, 52-week Performance

ResMae to be Sold for $180M to Another Buyer

Brea-based subprime mortgage lender ResMae Mortgage Corp. on Monday said another bidder, Citadel Investment Group LLC, beat out Credit Suisse Group with a $180 million bid for the company.

East Coast Asian Grocer Readying Store in Irvine

The market for Asian grocers is getting more competitive with an H Mart store planned in Irvine

First Hospital Here in Decades Takes Shape

Kaiser Permanente's new hospital in Irvine is the first built here since 1990

Bye-Bye Bangkok, Hello Hamamori at South Coast Plaza

Bangkok Four in South Coast Plaza has been replaced with Hamamori, in the Executive Dining column

Chapman Plans Redevelopment of 2 Acres

Chapman University is moving ahead on redeveloping a historic produce packing plant

George Soros Buys Into Wet Seal's Turnaround

Billionaire hedge fund trader George Soros has bought into teen retailer Wet Seal

Rap, Togas, Micro Stocks

Roth Capital's annual conference goes Ludacris on attendees

READER LETTERS

A local businessman applauds Disney for fighting development plans around the resort

QLogic Pulls Ahead in Emulex Adapter Rivalry

The rivalry between QLogic and Emulex isn't as close as it used to be

BUSINESS SCHOOL

A new high school is looking to help businesses fill a void with its trained vocational graduates

Electronics Maker Lays Off in Irvine

An Irvine maker of electrical connectors is cutting jobs

New Century Plummets on Bankruptcy Predictions

Irvine-based New Century Financial Corp. saw its stock plunge 70% in trading Monday, with analysts predicting a possible liquidation or bankruptcy for the struggling subprime mortgage lender.

Impac's Shares Fall on Delay in Earnings Report

Irvine-based Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. saw its stock drop nearly 25% in trading on Monday, the latest casualty of Orange County's struggling subprime mortgage industry.

Blackstone to Buy Tussauds Group

Private equity firm Blackstone said on Monday it was buying Madame Tussauds waxworks owner Tussauds group for $1.92 billion.

Maguire Putting 11 OC Offices on the Block

Los Angeles-based landlord Maguire Properties Inc., fresh off one of the biggest local office buys in years, isn't done dealing in Orange County.

Option One Due Soon; Analysts Have Doubts

H & R; Block Inc. expects to sell Irvine-based subprime mortgage lender Option One Mortgage Corp. by the end of March for $1.3 billion

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This past week's news from ocbj.com and other sources

Well-Funded Chip Startup Goes After TV on Phones, Handhelds

A chip startup is going after the market for watching TV on phones and other handhelds

Sunny San Diego

Office, Industrial and R & D; Highlights in Q4 2006

Commercial Outlook: Expect Same Trends From '06

Buyers continue to push the envelope when it comes to acquiring industrial, office and retail buildings in Orange County.

Real Estate Watch: Airport Area

The airport area had tight vacancy in the fourth quarter. PLUS: CHART - Net Absorption; Vacancy Rates; Average Asking Lease Rates

Clients Turning to al Punto for English Work, Tambi & #233;n

Al Punto Advertising is battling for work and looking to hire some more, in the Media & Marketing column

Buying Binge

Housing Slowdown Doesn't Damper Big Office, Industrial Buys

Recovering Autobytel Sees Web Site as Turning Point

Autobytel is looking to a new site, MyRide.com, as a turning point from its past, in the Marketplace column

Less Is More

Slightly Fewer OC Hotels Sold Last Year, But Prices for Those Sold Nearly Tripled

Desert Hard Rock

Santa Ana developer Nexus is planning a Hard Rock hotel in Palm Springs

PEOPLE

Hirings, promotions and other moves at local businesses

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County

Steep Decline

ABOUT THE LIST - Decrease in Resales of Properties, Fewer Refinancing Deals Led to Drop in Title Insurers' Work

Harrah Adds Twin Condo Tower to Plans

Developer Mike Harrah is going condo

Acquicor, Jazz, Conexant: One Big Happy Chip Family

Conexant isn't walking away from Jazz entirely now that Acquicor's in the picture, in the Technology column

KUDOS

A look at people, companies and institutions receiving awards, accolades, grants and other honors

Advanced Medical Makes Eye Laser Push With Deals

Advanced Medical's pending acquisitions are part of its eye laser push, in the Healthcare column

Rent Question

The Irvine Company could look to raise rents once it closes its deal for the former Equity buildings in San Diego

InfoSend Handles Dirty Work of City, Company Billing

InfoSend does the dirty work of bill processing, in the Small Business column,

REAL ESTATE DEALS

Sales and leases of offices, industrial buildings, retail space and apartments

VIEWPOINT

The governor's health reform plan is bold,and pricey. Viewpoint by Glenn A. Melnick, professor and Blue Cross of California Chair in Healthcare Finance at USC.

Santa Ana Home Sales Outpace Irvine; Mix of Mortgages

A truth about the local housing market? It varies by city, in the Real Estate column

Kingston Posts Record 2006 Sales

Memory products maker Kingston Technology Co. last week reported record sales of $3.4 billion for 2006, a 13% jump from the previous year.

Medical Scanner InSight Offering Shares for Debt

Medical scanning provider InSight is offering creditors nearly all of its shares in exchange for forgiving the company's debt

Los Angeles

Blackstone, Equity Properties Deal, Then Maguire's Buy of Equity Buildings Steal Show

Friday, March 2

Kaiser Makes Headway on First New Hospital Here in Decades

Hospitals across Orange County are expanding, adding patient towers and other facilities as part of a building boom. Then there's Kaiser Permanente.

UnitedHealth: Filings to be Current by March 15

UnitedHealth Group Inc. said on Friday it expects to become current with its U.S. financial filings by March 15, which would be a major step as it seeks to recover from a stock options scandal.

Dell 4Q Earnings, Revenues Drop

Dell Inc.'s fourth-quarter profits plunged 33% because of weak sales of laptops and notebooks, and the computer maker still faces an unresolved federal accounting probe, customer service complaints, several shareholder lawsuits and stiff competition from

QLogic-Emulex Rivalry Widens

One of Orange County's great rivalries isn't as close as it used to be. Aliso Viejo-based QLogic Corp. has upped its lead over Costa Mesa's Emulex Corp. in a piece of profitable electronics used in data storage networks.

Google: In Dispute With SEC on Tax Accounting

Google Inc. disclosed in its 2006 annual report on Thursday that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission nearly a year ago had called into question how it accounted for income taxes.

Thursday, March 1

January Incomes, Core Prices Rise, Jobs Data Weaker

U.S. incomes rose much more sharply than expected in January, while spending and core consumer price growth also outpaced forecasts, according to a government report on Thursday that could heighten inflation concerns at the Federal Reserve.

IntraLase Sales Jump, Tax Gain Boosts Profits

Irvine-based eye surgery laser maker IntraLase Corp., which is being bought by Santa Ana's Advanced Medical Optics for $800 million, saw a surge in fourth-quarter sales, while profits were boosted by a tax issue.

New Century Cutting Jobs

Irvine-based mortgage lender New Century Financial Corp. on Thursday said it was cutting 300 jobs, including 124 positions in Orange County.

First American's Q4 Earnings Continue to Slide

Profits and revenues for First American Corp. continued to slide in the fourth quarter, a result of the slowing national housing market and a big decline in title insurance business, the Santa Ana-based company said on Thursday.

EU Warns Microsoft of Possible Further Fines

The European Commission warned Microsoft Corp. on Thursday it faced further fines in its long-running antitrust battle with Brussels, this time for seeking unreasonable prices from software makers for vital data.

Bear Stearns Expanding Mortgage Operations Here

At least one mortgage company is looking to hire in Orange County. EMC Mortgage Corp., a Lewisville, Texas-based company that buys and services residential mortgages, said it would open a site on Alton Parkway in Irvine this May.

Oracle: Buying Rival Hyperion for $3.3 Billion

Oracle Corp., the largest database software maker, said on Thursday it would buy Hyperion Solutions Corp. for $3.3 billion to boost its position in the fast-growing market for performance management software.