Stories for February 2009
Friday, February 27
The economy contracted at its sharpest rate since early 1982 in the fourth quarter, revised data showed on Friday, as exports plunged and consumers cut spending by the most in more than 28 years.
Lake Forest-based Primoris Services Corp., the parent company of construction and engineering business ARB Inc., said on Friday it won a $13.1 million contract to build a parking structure in Harbor City.
Former Broadcom Corp. chief financial officer Bill Ruehle won a round in the early phases of his upcoming trial over backdated stock options at the Irvine chipmaker.
Fullerton-based Beckman Coulter Inc. said Friday that it will spend $800 million to buy Olympus Corp.'s laboratory-based medical diagnostics business.
The government will boost its equity stake in Citigroup Inc. to as much as 36%, bolstering the bank's capital base in the latest emergency effort to prop up the ailing banking giant.
Thursday, February 26
New-home sales tumbled to a record-low annual pace in January and there's no relief in sight as mounting damage from the collapsed housing market pushes the country deeper into recession.
President Barack Obama has pulled out his most potent weapon -- the dry federal budget -- to try to carry out his promise of change, including winding down the Iraq war, expanding health care and tackling global warming.
Santa Ana-based title insurer and business data provider First American Corp. posted a lower fourth-quarter profit that beat Wall Street's expectations while revenue came in below what analysts were looking for.
A bleak outlook for the housing industry has forced Irvine-based Standard Pacific Corp. to back off from plans to expand through acquisitions.
General Motors Corp posted a loss of nearly $31 billion on Thursday for 2008 and said its auditors were likely to cast doubt on its viability as it seeks an expanded federal bailout to stay afloat.
Santa Ana-based Grubb & Ellis Co. said on Thursday it has received notice from the regulators of the New York Stock Exchange that the company's stock could be delisted from the exchange unless its share price improves.
Wednesday, February 25
Standard Pacific Corp. has replaced its chief financial officer and general counsel, the Irvine-based homebuilder said on Wednesday.
Irvine's Epicor Software Corp. reached an agreement with activist investor Elliott Associates LP, a New York-based hedge fund that has agitated for change and sought to buy the maker of business software in a hostile takeover last year.
Aliso Viejo-based drug maker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International reported higher fourth-quarter income and upped its profit outlook for 2009 on Tuesday.
The assets of Alsius Corp., an Irvine medical device maker, are being bought by Zoll Medical Corp. of Chelmsford, Mass, for $12 million.
When Hyundai Motor Co. launched a new incentive program allowing buyers who lost their jobs to return just-purchased new cars, Rick Case was blown away by the consumer response.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday that he had an exit strategy from the central bank's recent massive monetary expansion that will keep inflation under control as the economy recovers.
Sales of previously owned homes plunged in January, reversing the previous month's surprise jump, and prices spiraled down to a six-year low as the deep recession and rising joblessness took its toll.
Chapman University College has bought a 115,000-square-foot building in the Irvine Spectrum, which it will use as its new administrative headquarters and Irvine satellite campus.
Tuesday, February 24
Home prices plunged at a record pace in December, data showed on Tuesday, while consumer confidence also hit a record low in February as Americans feared an already deep recession was likely to get even worse.
Costa Mesa-based body armor maker Ceradyne Inc. posted a fourth-quarter loss and lowered its guidance for 2009.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned on Tuesday that unless government efforts succeed in restoring financial stability, the nation's recession may not end this year.
Consumer confidence plunged to another record low in February with expectations that already dire economic conditions will continue to weaken and the jobs market will further deteriorate.
Monday, February 23
A man who wants to sell invisibility is trying to make the most of being seen
It's just idiotic to put today's economy in the same sentence as the Great Depression. Commentary by Charlie Crumpley, editor, Los Angeles Business Journal
Ford Motor Co. has reached a tentative deal with the United Auto Workers union on changes to a retiree health care trust, becoming the first Detroit automaker to secure union concessions on the key issue.
A look at people, companies and institutions receiving awards, accolades, grants and other honors
Alpine Biomed is making a push into devices that diagnose sleeping disorders
Medical device maker B. Braun Medical Inc. is planning a big expansion in the coming years.
Beckman Coulter has put a hefty price tag on its upcoming move to Brea, in the Healthcare column
Santa Ana's Ingram Micro Inc. started a round of layoffs last week that's set to slash roughly 300 jobs.
The Los Angeles Times is making some dramatic changes, in the Media & Marketing column
Western Digital is pushing a device for TVs that lacks its signature disk drive
Medtronic Inc. said Monday that it is buying CoreValve Inc., an Irvine heart valve company, for $700 million and future milestone payments.
Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations is reportedly laying off 110 workers with a large percentage of them coming from its Irvine headquarters.
The fallout from John Laing Homes' bankruptcy filing
Why the FDIC can't start operations in Irvine soon enough
The Business Journal's first bimonthly apparel column by the writer of Shop-Eat-Surf.com
The economy is set to contract sharply in the first quarter, with the current cyclical downturn on track to rival the 1973-75 slump as soaring unemployment depresses demand, a survey showed.
Retail's pain isn't expected to end any time soon, in the Marketplace column
Another company built by Newport Beach's Steelberg brothers is being shut down a few years after it was sold to a big name for big bucks, in the Technology column
Chapman's Prop. 8 Divide; A-Rod Taps OC Crisis Manager
Citigroup Inc. is in talks to give the government a larger stake, a person familiar with the matter said, providing Washington with a far greater say in the affairs of the ailing banking giant.
The fate of Skyline MacArthur Place in Santa Ana still is up in the air, in the Real Estate column
Mitsubishi Materials U.S.A. is moving its headquarters in OC
Friday, February 20
Santa Ana-based Advanced Medical Optics Inc. on Friday said its fourth-quarter earnings, its last as an independent public company, beat Wall Street's expectations.
Department store operator J.C. Penney Co. Inc. posted a 51% drop in fourth quarter profit on Friday, and said its loss in the current quarter would be deeper than Wall Street estimates as shoppers hold off on spending.
Costa Mesa-based Pacific Mercantile Bancorp, operator of the largest bank based in Orange County, has gotten approval to receive $25.5 million in federal money aimed at spurring lending.
As goes Pacific Sunwear of Anaheim Inc., so goes Volcom Inc. The Costa Mesa-based clothing designer said it saw sales to stores run by Anaheim-based Pacific Sunwear fall 27% to $10.4 million in the fourth quarter.
Lowe's Cos. reported a sharp drop in quarterly profit on Friday as it marked down prices to lure consumers in the recession and it gave profit forecasts that fell short of Wall Street estimates.
Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. shares plummeted for a sixth straight day on Friday, hammered by fears that the government could nationalize the banks, wiping out shareholders.
Thursday, February 19
Cypress-based Universal Electronics Inc., a maker of remote controls for home electronics, said Thursday it bought the assets of a company it tried to take over in a hostile bid a year ago.
Irvine-based homebuilder John Laing Homes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Thursday, citing turmoil in the housing market.
Costa Mesa-based clothing designer Volcom Inc. warned of a big shortfall in profits and sales for the current quarter after reporting mixed results for the fourth quarter.
Orange County's median home price took another tumble in January, as bargain hunters focused on buying distressed properties in more affordable areas of the county.
Disk drive maker Seagate Technology LLC dropped its patent infringement lawsuit against Santa Ana's STEC Inc., a maker of flash memory drives for corporate networks and industrial uses.
Unemployment will top 9% before the recession is over, according to a Reuters poll of economists that points to a significantly bleaker economic outlook than just one month ago.
UBS's landmark settlement deal with U.S. tax authorities could be the final nail in the coffin for Switzerland's prized bank secrecy and will have far-reaching consequences for the whole offshore financial industry.
Sprint Nextel Corp. posted a fourth-quarter loss as 1.3 million subscribers left its mobile phone service, but the results were not as bad as some had feared, and its shares rose 24%.
Wednesday, February 18
Commercial real estate brokers are going to court over the downturn in commercial real estate,but not for the reasons you might think.
Shares of Foothill Ranch-based Kaiser Aluminum Corp. slumped Wednesday,a day after the company reported a charge-laden quarterly loss and was cautious about the current quarter.
Ingram Micro Inc., the Santa Ana-based distributor of consumer electronics, technology products and software, warned on Wednesday about slumping sales and softer demand in the current quarter.
Housing starts and building permits dropped to record lows in January, data showed Wednesday, as builders shelved construction plans to try to clear a glut of unsold houses caused by a slump in demand.
Hundreds of people lined up to withdraw money from banks in Antigua and Caracas affiliated with Texas billionaire Allen Stanford, a day after the tycoon was charged with an $8 billion fraud.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled the next step in his multi-pronged efforts to lift the United States out of recession Wednesday, pledging up to $275 billion to help stem a wave of home foreclosures that sparked the U.S. financial meltdown.
Tuesday, February 17
Wal-Mart Stores Inc posted a profit that beat Wall Street forecasts, fueled by sales at its namesake U.S. discount stores, and said it expects to outperform rivals as a global downturn forces shoppers to seek low prices.
Directors at Anaheim-based Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. on Tuesday called a planned board battle by a takeover-minded shareholder a waste of time and money and said they back efforts by the retailer's chief executive to turn around the business.
Daimler swung to a hefty loss, hit by exposure to Chrysler, and Opel and Saab braced for news of General Motors' survival plan, as European carmakers saw their fates tied closely to their U.S. peers.
Santa Ana's Ingram Micro Inc., the top distributor of technology goods, software and consumer electronics, started a round of layoffs Tuesday that's set to slash roughly 300 jobs.
The disk drive business of Fujitsu Ltd. that was sought by Lake Forest-based Western Digital Corp. late last year is being sold to Toshiba Corp., the Japanese companies said Tuesday.
California, which is on the brink of running out of cash, will notify 20,000 state workers on Tuesday their jobs may be eliminated, a spokesman for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Monday.
Monday, February 16
Two local executives say California needs to brace itself for the onslaught brought by trial lawyers.
Lantronix's chief executive came to the company to give it an overhaul
OC's largest environmental consulting companies saw higher billings in 2008
Allergan is offering coupons for Botox, in the Healthcare column
Melissa Data has acquired part of a struggling public company, in the Technology column
Japan sank deeper into recession with its worst quarterly contraction since the oil crisis in the 1970s, its reliance on exports and soft domestic demand dragging down the world's second-largest economy.
High unemployment and excess space have created a tenant-friendly office market, in Real Estate Watch
Standard Pacific might walk away from its proposed acquisition of TOUSA, in the Real Estate column
Microsoft's revenues will be impacted by the economic slowdown, Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said on Monday.
Costa Mesa's South Coast Home Furnishings Center has traded hands again at a fraction of what the struggling shopping center was worth just a few years ago.
President Barack Obama has decided to launch a government task force for restructuring the struggling auto industry instead of naming a "car czar" with sweeping powers, a senior administration official said on Sunday.
Haymarket Worldwide stops putting out its IndyCar Series magazine this month, in the Media & Marketing column
Synchronous Aerospace has acquired an Oklahoma maker of parts for helicopters, fighter jets and cargo planes
Newport Beach-based investment bank Roth Capital Partners LLC kicked off its annual growth stock conference Monday at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel hotel in Dana Point, promising visitors company presentations and nightlife with live entertainment.
Sullen Clothing has moved from Irvine to Huntington Beach, in the Small Business column
New auto registration trends in Orange County, in the Marketplace column
Beckman Coulter's chief executive will test his ability to restructure and drive profits this year
The fallout is still happening from Microsemi's chief executive lying on his resume
Friday, February 13
Consumers and professional forecasters have cast off the last remnants of economic optimism, reports showed on Friday, as they confronted the grim reality of a long and deep recession.
Shares of San Clemente-based hotel owner Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. slumped Friday a day after the company reported lower fourth-quarter results and said it could have to rework a line of credit.
Irvine-based Standard Pacific Corp. reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $398 million on Friday, after seeing revenue fall nearly 60% from a year earlier.
Shares of Huntington Beach-based BJ's Restaurants Inc. closed up 17% Friday a day after the restaurant operator reported a profit that beat what Wall Street had expected.
Chrysler LLC is making progress in talks with creditors and the United Auto Workers union on a restructuring plan required under a federal bailout, a senior Chrysler executive told Reuters on Friday.
Small retailer Adrenalina Group of Miami has named its candidates for directors at Anaheim-based Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. as part of a board fight at the struggling surf-inspired mall store chain.
PepsiCo Inc. reported a quarterly profit on Friday that met Wall Street expectations and said it may buy back up to $2.5 billion of its stock this year, sending shares up 2% in premarket trading.
Thursday, February 12
Prices of existing single-family homes dropped a record 12.4% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to the lowest level since 2003, the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday.
Restructuring telescope maker Meade Instruments Corp. is moving to a smaller Irvine building to cut costs after shifting production to Mexico and Asia last year.
Small retailer Adrenalina Group of Miami is launching a board fight at Anaheim-based Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. after its earlier bids to buy the struggling surf-inspired mall store chain were rebuffed.
Search engine kingpin Google Inc. said Thursday it's shedding an unprofitable business that it first got into via an Orange County acquisition.
Sales at retailers rebounded in January, government data showed on Thursday, likely boosted by post-holiday discounts and providing a rare glimmer of hope for the recession-hit economy.
Coca-Cola Co reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, helped by double-digit volume gains in China, India and Eastern Europe, and its shares rose more than 7%.
Wednesday, February 11
Merrill Lynch secretly accelerated bonus payments last year and gave at least $1 million to each of nearly 700 employees, even as the brokerage was amassing billions of dollars of losses, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a letter to U.S. Rep
Lawmakers and the White House were moving toward a final deal on Wednesday for what could be a stimulus plan of under $800 billion that Democrats say is crucial to rescuing the struggling economy.
The parent company of Tustin-based Cherokee International Corp., a maker of power supply gear for electronics, has filed plans with the state to cut more than 200 local manufacturing jobs.
Wall Street bank executives felt the rage of Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Wednesday over how they used $176 billion in bailout money without making a noticeable impact on the anemic economy.
Pacific Investment Management Co.'s Bill Gross has bought more mortgage bonds for his Total Return Fund, the largest bond fund at $136 billion in assets under management.
Newport Beach-based Ambassadors International Inc. said Wednesday it's selling off businesses to focus on cruises and is moving its headquarters to Seattle.
Tuesday, February 10
The Treasury Department on Tuesday unveiled a revamped financial rescue plan to cleanse up to $500 billion in spoiled assets from banks' books and support $1 trillion in new lending through an expanded Federal Reserve program.
General Motors Co. will slash its global salaried work force by about 10,000, or 14%, this year and impose pay cuts on most remaining white-collar U.S. workers as it scrambles to reduce costs under a restructuring mandated by its government bailout.
If it's Tuesday, then there must be a new analyst report about Lake Forest-based disk drive maker Western Digital Corp.
Shares of Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc. fell after an analyst downgraded the struggling clothing maker's stock on Tuesday, saying its large debt in a weak economy could make it difficult for it to post profits.
Aliso Viejo's Quest Software Inc., a maker of business software, reported fourth-quarter results Tuesday that surpassed sales expectations but fell short on profits.
Santa Ana's STEC Inc., a maker of flash memory drives for industrial uses, is set to cut some 200 local jobs as it moves work to a new factory it built in Malaysia.
Monday, February 9
King's Seafood has big plans as it navigates the worst industry downturn in recent memory
An analyst is optimistic about a rebound at Lake Forest-based disk drive maker Western Digital Corp., but not before spring when the sector starts to stabilize.
Some corrections and clarifications on the Business Journal's Jan. 26 story "Noodle Maker Takes Over Local Plant,"
Irvine's Fisker Automotive Inc. is backed by a top-notch designer from BMW AG and Aston Martin and has a buzz surrounding its sexy, environmentally friendly luxury cars. But the upstart automaker's greatest asset just might be Victor Doolan's Rolodex.
Fisker Automotive's greatest asset just might be Vic Doolan's Rolodex
OC's Baseball Owner; Sanchez Against Bailout Before She's For It
Nissan Motor Co. said it would cut 20,000 jobs and joined a growing list of automakers warning of red ink this year in what would mark its first loss since Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn took the reins a decade ago.
Two OC medical scanning companies are hoping a possible decision by Medicare will bring more business for them
A new real estate investment trust that's looking to buy raw land is starting to make some deals, in the Real Estate column
The party goes on at Roth Capital Partners' annual stock conference
Fletcher Jones finished at the top of a much shorter heap in 2008, in the Marketplace column
General Motors Corp. is in talks to buy back parts of bankrupt auto supplier Delphi Corp., a source with direct knowledge of the talks said on Monday.
Opportunistic investors are looking for ways to profit from OC's tough housing market
UCI is touting a $3.3 million grant it's slated to receive from the state as a way to boost its stem cell training program, in the Healthcare column
OC's homebuilders saw a 24% decline in new home sales in 2008
It's a guessing game predicting the next steps of John Laing Homes
Microsemi's chief executive has been having a tough go these past few months, in the Technology column
A Business Journal reader recommends a Toxic Executive Removal Program, in Reader Letters
Commercial real estate construction ground to a halt in the fourth quarter
Fullerton-based Beckman Coulter Inc. reported a big jump in fourth-quarter profits that fell just shy of Wall Street expectations and upped its profit forecast for 2009 while being cautious about revenue.
Surfline/Wavetrak ended publication of its Water magazine to focus on the Web, in the Media & Marketing column
McDonald's Corp. said on Monday that worldwide sales at its restaurants open at least 13 months rose 7.1% in January, driven by strength at home and abroad.
Friday, February 6
Recession-battered employers eliminated 598,000 jobs in January, the most since the end of 1974, and catapulted the unemployment rate to 7.6%. The grim figures were further proof that the nation's job climate is deteriorating at an alarming clip with no e
A unit of Britian's Barclays PLC has taken a sizable stake in Irvine-based homebuilder Standard Pacific Corp.
Toyota, the world's top carmaker, said its losses were ballooning as world car sales drop, while truckmaker Volvo swung to a fourth-quarter loss and Italy readied aid for the ailing industry.
Shares of Anaheim's Multi-Fineline Electronix Inc., a maker of flexible circuit boards for cell phones, continued their downward slide a day after the company gave a weaker-than-expected sales outlook for the current quarter.
The incoming interim head of UCI Medical Center is a veteran who's run big hospitals in Long Beach and Orange.
Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of bond giant Pacific Investment Management Co., said Friday's data showing a precipitous drop in non-farm payrolls in January underscores the need for aggressive government response and leaves no room for policy grad
Thursday, February 5
Mall retailers Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and Wet Seal Inc. saw another month of declining sales in January but held their forecasts for the recently ended quarter.
The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a 26-year high last week, according to government data on Thursday that showed the economy remains on a deep downward track.
Retailers mostly reported lower monthly sales for January, although discounter Wal-Mart Stores bucked the trend with a stronger-than-expected increase as shoppers stocked up on food and other necessities.
Cisco Systems Inc. Chief Executive John Chambers forecast revenue will drop far more sharply in the current quarter than Wall Street expected, and said the network equipment maker is cutting up to 2,000 jobs.
Microsemi Chief Executive Jim Peterson is set to give up his seat on the board of Santa Ana's STEC Inc., after he was was found to have lied on his official biography after an investor spurred an inquiry into his education background.
Shares of Santa Ana's Powerwave Technologies Inc., a maker of gear for wireless networks, jumped Thursday after the company narrowed its losses and surprised analysts, who weren't expecting a profit.
TherOx Inc., an Irvine-based medical device company, has dropped plans for a $100 million initial public offering.
Wednesday, February 4
President Barack Obama set a $500,000 annual compensation cap on Wednesday for executives at companies getting taxpayer bailouts as part of a wider process to clamp down on excessive corporate pay.
Harry Markopolos, a former financial executive who tried to blow the whistle on accused swindler Bernard Madoff, will tell lawmakers he feared for the safety of his family when securities regulators ignored evidence in the case, the Wall Street Journal re
The economy is hemorrhaging jobs and may not stop bleeding for at least another year even if the government acts quickly to stimulate the economy, according to reports released on Wednesday.
Irvine's Epicor Software Corp., a maker of business software for retailers and manufacturers, gave an outlook for the current quarter that falls short of Wall Street's expectations.
Irvine-based Allergan Inc. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit fell 6% and it plans to lay off 460 employees, or 5% of its workforce, including 100 locally.
Tuesday, February 3
Chrysler LLC said on Tuesday it expects U.S. light vehicle sales to decline 35% across the industry in January to the lowest level in 26 years, extending a downturn that has forced major U.S. automakers to seek government aid.
Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America Inc. and sister company Kia Motor America Inc. of Irvine reversed months of declines by growing auto sales in January, the companies said Tuesday.
Pending sales of existing homes rebounded in December, data showed on Tuesday, as buyers waded back into the market to take advantage of lower prices and mortgage interest rates.
Rising unemployment continues to bolster Santa Ana-based vocational school operator Corinthian Colleges Inc., which reported better than expected quarterly results and upped its outlook for the current quarter on Tuesday.
Irvine heart valve maker Edwards Lifesciences Corp. on Tuesday posted a fourth-quarter profit that topped Wall Street's expectations.
Finance company GMAC LLC, which won a government bailout in December, posted a $7.46 billion fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday as a gain from a debt swap offset billions of dollars of losses in its auto and mortgage units.
Monday, February 2
Game Over: Arte Swallows Legal Fees; Dana Helps Debbie
Del Taco is getting its third leader in less than a year
What went on at the National Automobile Dealers Association meeting late last month, in the Marketplace column
AnaJet wants to makes its imprint on the apparel industry through digital color printers, in the Small Business column
Velocity magazine is looking to become a "digital media company," in the Media & Marketing column
A look at people, companies and institutions receiving awards, accolades, grants and other honors
The Los Angeles office market is slumping while the industrial market is holding steady, in Real Estate Watch
Consumers cut spending for a sixth straight month in December and their incomes shrank, according to a government report on Monday that underscored the rapid deterioration in the economy.
A glut of unsold condominium towers and delayed developments across Miami haven't scared away Centurion Partners, in the Real Estate column
The latest in OC's dining scene, in the Executive Dining column
How OC's restaurant chains are grappling with a new law requiring them to display nutritional information
Shares of Lake Forest's Western Digital Corp. jumped Monday after an analyst said he's expecting the disk drive maker to rebound later in the year.
New Head Will Have to Oversee $555 Million Hospital Expansion; Tough Business Economy
Microsemi Corp. said Chief Executive Officer James Peterson will be retained and required to pay financial penalties after an investigation found that he did not obtain bachelor's or masters of business administration degrees. But the company is facing a
George Klaus is back at Epicor's helm after a year-long stab at retirement
Newly Running Center Brings Together All Aspects of Care; Patients Influenced Design
Allergan has created its own real estate island in Irvine
Economy Affecting Hospitals, Which Watch Hiring, Rising Uninsured Patients, Spending
Some OC healthcare information technology companies got a dash of cold water from an analyst last month, in the Healthcare column
A Los Angeles judge gave the green light to a cadre of Broadcom Corp. shareholders on Monday looking to sue the Irvine-based chipmaker for options backdating.
Washington Mutual is making some big changes in OC as it folds into JPMorgan Chase
Mattel Inc. posted a fourth-quarter profit far below Wall Street forecasts on Monday, crushed by disappointing holiday sales and a stronger dollar, and its shares dropped 17.5%.
Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar is run like a business and teaches the offspring of many of OC's prominent families
Blytheco is continuing its consolidation run, in the Technology column
Top operators still saw revenue increase by 7%