Stories for March 2009

Tuesday, March 31

January Home Prices Drop Record 19%

Prices of single-family homes in January plunged a record 19% from a year earlier, showing a housing market that is still in the throes of a deep recession, according to a Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller report on Tuesday.

Angels Offer New Seats; Sales Slow, AIG Factor

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have carved out some prime field seats at Angel Stadium of Anaheim as the baseball team battles tough sales of season tickets.

GM, Ford Offer Job-Loss Payments to Boost Sales

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. announced a new series of incentives covering payments if customers lose their jobs, joining rivals in offering heavy discounts to attract consumers sidelined by the recession.

Arsenal Basketball Team Leaving Anaheim

The Anaheim Arsenal, an NBA Developement League basketball team that's played at the Anaheim Convention Center since 2006, is moving to Massachusetts later this year.

Aliso Viejo Laser Maker Raises $22M

LensX Lasers Inc., an Aliso Viejo company that makes laser devices for cataract surgery, has raised $22.36 million in a second round of funding, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Chicago Sun-Times Parent Files for Bankruptcy

The Sun-Times Media Group, parent of the Chicago Sun-Times, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, earning Chicago the distinction of being the first U.S. city served by two bankrupt newspaper publishers.

Monday, March 30

Oil Falls Towards $50, U.S. Dollar Strengthens

Oil fell over $2 on Monday, briefly dipping below $50 a barrel for the first time since March 19, pressured by a stronger U.S. dollar and a slump on global stock markets.

Subprime Exception: Lender Sees Next to No Bad Mortgages

A local subprime lender is one of the rare success stories in its industry

Canadian, Dane, German Walk Into a Bar ... Design New Car

Canadian, Dane, German Walk Into a Bar ... Design New Car

VIEWPOINT

Why Little League is and isn't like a business, in Viewpoint

Accounting Firm Moves HQ to Brea, Expands Presence

A big accounting firm is relocating its headquarters to Brea from Los Angeles, in the Real Estate column

Cinkle: Staffing Agency Grew Out of Own Frustration

Cinkle: Staffing Agency Grew Out of Own Frustration

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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

Market Share of Second-Home Sales Fell in 2008: NAR

Sales of vacation and investment homes in the U.S. slipped to 30% of all transactions of existing and new homes in 2008, the National Association of Realtors said on Monday.

Stem Cell Support Could Grow UCI Student Specialists

Obama's lifting of the ban on stem cell research will open up career paths for medical students, in the Healthcare column

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County. March 30 - April 8, 2009

Gough: Called on Political Allies to Fund OC Business Bank

Gough: Called on Political Allies to Fund OC Business Bank

OCBJ SUPPLEMENTS and GUIDES

The Giving Guide 2009

Angels Offer New Seats; Sales Slow, AIG Factor

The Angels are battling with slow ticket sales with some new, prime seats

Laguna Startup Lands Juice Pouches in Big Supermarkets

A local juice maker has landed its pouches in two big supermarkets, in the Small Business column

REAL ESTATE WATCH: RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT SPACE

The down economy has hit the local research and development market, in Real Estate Watch

Edgy Cosmetics Maker Urban Decay Sold

Newport Beach-based Urban Decay Cosmetics LLC, a maker of edgy cosmetics, has been acquired by a private equity firm.

Saccacio: Dedication, Timing Pushed RealtyTrac Growth

Saccacio: Dedication, Timing Pushed RealtyTrac Growth

Razin to Riches: Turned $2,000 Into $1 Billion Software Maker

Turned $2,000 Into $1 Billion Software Maker

READER LETTERS

Case for Meetings; Viva El Toro?

Obama Orders Tough Medicine for GM, Chrysler

President Barack Obama seized the wheel of the failing auto industry on Monday, forcing out General Motors Corp's chief executive, pushing Chrysler LLC toward a merger and threatening bankruptcy for both.

REAL ESTATE DEALS

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

Industry Buzz: Hiatus for Cary Bren's Co.?

California Pacific, headed by Donald Bren's son, may be winding down its operations

Bagel Franchisee Eyes Stores, Finds Receptive Market

A local franchisee plans to open five Einstein Bros. bagel stores in OC in the next five years, in the Marketplace column

Grubb & Ellis Plans $3B Healthcare Fund

Grubb & Ellis wants to raise $3 billion in a new healthcare offering

Frozen Yogurt Buildup Gives Way to Shakeout

A look at the saturated frozen yogurt market

Western Digital Buys Aliso Viejo's SiliconSystems for $65M

Lake Forest-based disk drive maker Western Digital Corp. said Monday it's entering the market for a new type of drive that's gained headway in corporate networks with its $65 million buy of Aliso Viejo's SiliconSystems Inc.

MSC.Software Sees Executive Shakeup, Board Changes

MSC.Software has seen a lot of recent changes in its upper ranks, in the Technology column

Emulex Dinged on Analyst Downgrade

Shares of Costa Mesa's Emulex Corp., a maker of electronics for data storage networks, fell Monday after an analyst downgraded the stock.

PEOPLE

Hirings, promotions and other moves at local businesses

Wienerschnitzel Speeds Release of Chili Dog Campaign

Wienerschnitzel is moving up its chili dog ad campaign to combat competition from Carl's Jr., in the Media & Marketing column

Nick Unplugged: New Image Stresses Business Deals, Charitable Work

Nick Unplugged: New Image Stresses Business Deals, Charitable Work

MARKET WATCH

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

Friday, March 27

Allergan Buys Irvine Building from Maguire for $22M

Drug maker Allergan Inc. is paying $22 million to buy another office building next to its sprawling Irvine campus.

KB Home Posts Narrower Loss, Shares Pop

KB Home posted a quarterly loss that was not as bad as Wall Street expected as the builder took a smaller charge to write down the value of its land-holdings, sending its shares up more than 6%.

Aliso Viejo Diagnostic Company Raising Up to $50M

Clarient Inc., an Aliso Viejo-based cancer diagnostics company, said it would raise up to $50 million through a private placement of its stock with Oak Investment Partners, a Westport, Conn.-based venture capital firm.

Wall St. Falls, Hurt by Profit Taking, Oil's Fall

Stocks fell on Friday as investors booked profits following a recent rapid surge, while the energy sector dropped along with the price of oil.

Consumer Spending Up Modestly, Incomes Fall

Consumer spending rose for a second straight month in February, while incomes reversed the previous month's gains, government data showed on Friday.

Report: New Blizzard Game in Works

Irvine's Blizzard Entertainment Inc., the top maker of online video games played by millions around the world, has a new title in the works.

Thursday, March 26

Wet Seal Profit Better Than Expected, Markdowns Continue

Foothill Ranch-based mall retailer Wet Seal Inc. reported a quarterly profit that beat expectations Thursday and offered an outlook for the current quarter in line with Wall Street expectations.

Geithner Unveils Sweeping Rules for Financial Firms

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said sweeping new "rules of the game" are required to make sure the financial system is regulated tightly enough that it cannot again threaten the entire economy.

Reports: Kingston Weighs Investment in Chipmaker

Fountain Valley-based Kingston Technology Co. is considering investing in a struggling Japanese maker of memory chips, according to reports.

Economy Shrinks, Profits Plunge in Q4

The economy shrank at its fastest pace since 1982 in the fourth quarter and corporate profits plunged a record $120.1 billion, pulled down by falling consumer spending and exports, government data showed on Thursday.

Wonderware Founders Do iPhone Software

A colorful trio of local technology veterans has teamed up to make software for Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

Fed needs to double balance sheet: PIMCO

Bond giant Pacific Investment Management Co. said the Federal Reserve needs to double its balance sheet up to $6 trillion to replace the amount of wealth destroyed in the United States, an executive said on Thursday.

Wednesday, March 25

OC Sees Uptick in Home Sales, Prices in February

The price of an existing Orange County home rose more than $10,000 in February from a month ago, the California Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.

Bank of America CEO Eyes TARP Repay in April: Report

Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said the largest bank wants to start repaying $45 billion of federal bailout money next month, after completing a government stress test, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

Home Sales Climb at Fastest Pace in 10 Months

New orders for long-lasting U.S. made goods rose in February for the first time in seven months and new home sales rebounded, government reports showed on Wednesday, suggesting the economic downturn might be easing a bit.

Mortgage Applications Jump; Rates at Record Low

Mortgage applications jumped last week as record low interest rates spurred a surge in demand for home refinancing loans, data from an industry group showed on Wednesday.

Pyott: Allergan Looking for Own Acquisitions

Allergan Inc., which saw its shares surge Tuesday on takeover speculation, is looking for acquisitions of its own, Chief Executive David Pyott told Bloomberg.

Beckman Sees Options Surge on Takeover Speculation

The takeover speculation that hit Irvine's Allergan Inc. on Tuesday moved to Fullerton-based medical diagnostic company Beckman Coulter Inc. on Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 24

Geithner Wants Powers to Wind Down Firms Like AIG

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told an angry Congress on Tuesday that he needs authority to step in to shut down troubled institutions like American International Group to avoid future government bailouts.

Baja Fresh Makes Move To Cypress

Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, the healthful Mexican restaurant chain, has officially moved its corporate headquarters from Thousand Oaks to Cypress.

Allergan Surges on Takeover Speculation

Shares of Irvine-based Allergan Inc. surged Tuesday on speculation the drug maker could be bought.

Japanese Automakers' Output Plunges in February

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday its global production plunged by nearly half in February from a year earlier, while Honda and Nissan reported similarly grim figures highlighting the woes facing Japanese automakers.

Home Prices Post 6.3% Annual Decline in January

A government report says home prices fell 6.3% in January from the same month last year. The Federal Housing Finance Agency says prices, on a seasonally adjusted basis, rose 1.7% from December to January.

Tough Feb. for Local Auto Sales

Sales at Orange County auto dealers fell faster than the national yearly average in February but did slightly better than the rest of the country in the past three months, according to the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association, an industry trade gr

Monday, March 23

Obama Draws Some Consultants; OCBJ Draws Entrepreneurs

Obama Draws Some Consultants; OCBJ Draws Entrepreneurs

Federal Stem Cell Shift Seen Spurring Funding

How Obama's lifting of a ban on funding for embryonic stem cell research affects local companies

TRAVELOGUE

Copy Editor Courtney Baird's Southern California Jaunt

Wireless Network Gear Maker Turning to India, Saudi Arabia

India and the Middle East are proving to be lands of opportunity for Powerwave

REAL ESTATE WATCH: MANUFACTURING & WAREHOUSE

Local manufacturing and warehouse vacancy is up, but the market should get better, in Real Estate Watch

PEOPLE

Hirings, promotions and other moves at local businesses

AROUND THE COUNTY

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

Alliance Healthcare Sees Recession as Business Boon

Alliance HealthCare thinks tough economic times could be a boon to its business, in the Healthcare column

Social Networking

How companies are using social networking sites as advertising tools

Suncor to Buy Petro-Canada for $15B

Suncor Energy Inc. has agreed to buy rival Petro-Canada to create Canada's largest oil company, as the pair seek to tackle tough conditions in the oil sands industry by slashing costs.

Wonderware Founders Do iPhone Software

A colorful trio of local tech veterans has teamed up to make software for Apple iPhone

Rip Curl Touts Flagship Store, Strong Finances

Australia's Rip Curl is looking to grow its U.S. business with its base in Costa Mesa, in the Apparel column

Quest Options Case Winds Down with Executive Fines

Quest Software's long stock options ordeal finally has come to a close, in the Technology column

REAL ESTATE DEALS

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

Big Trade Show Re-ups in Anaheim

The NAMM Show, a musical instruments trade show that's the largest convention held in Anaheim, has signed up to stay in the city through 2013.

REVIEW

"Goldfish" at South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa through April 5

MARKET WATCH

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

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County. March 23 - April 1, 2009

An Economist's Tools of the Trade

Chapman's president talks about how he uses his background in economics to run the university, in Viewpoint

Lake Forest: Young, Room to Grow

A look at how the city of Lake Forest is trying to attract businesses and ready itself for future residents

U.S. Lays Out Plan to Attract Buyers for Toxic Debt

The Treasury Department on Monday rolled out detailed plans for persuading private investors to help rid banks of up to $1 trillion in toxic assets that are seen as a roadblock to economic recovery.

Irvine's SmartReply Nabs Small Mobile Ad Startup

Irvine's SmartReply Inc., which creates marketing campaigns for retailers, said Monday it bought San Francisco-based mSnap Inc., which runs a network for mobile advertising via text messaging.

Existing Home Sales Rise in February

Sales of previously owned homes rose at their fastest pace in nearly six years in February, data showed on Monday, providing some good news for the recession hit-economy.

Oracle Buying Irvine Healthcare Software Company

Oracle Corp. is buying Irvine's Relsys International Inc., a maker of software for drug makers.

Recession Advertising: Stressing Value, Accountability

How advertisers are navigating the recession

Von Karman Ave.: Industrial Space Up for Grabs

Von Karman Avenue is lined with empty industrial buildings

Apria, Taco Bell, Other Human Resources Executives Honored

The National Human Resources Association honored some local executives

Pimco to Participate in Toxic Asset Plan

Bill Gross, the manager of the world's largest bond fund, gave the Obama administration's financial stability effort a much-needed endorsement on Monday, saying Pimco will participate in the public-private plan.

TechSpace's Flexible Office Beating Vacancy Averages

One local office building has seen an uptick in business recently, in the Real Estate column

How Long?

A look at the numbers behind the recession

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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

Homes Sales Stall at Bankrupt John Laing

It's easy to tell it's not yet business as usual at bankrupt John Laing Homes

Casanova Donates Dirty Water Campaign for UNICEF

Casanova Pendrill is helping UNICEF and its clean water project, in the Media & Marketing column

Friday, March 20

Ingram Micro Restructures in Europe

Santa Ana's Ingram Micro Inc., the biggest distributor of technology products, software and consumer electronics, is set to shutter some of its Scandinavian operations as part of efforts to cut costs and boost profits.

Chrysler Clarifies: Fiat Would Not Assume its Debt

Chrysler LLC said on Friday proposed partner Fiat SpA would not assume any of its debt if it takes an equity stake in the automaker.

Layoffs Hit 72,300 in Feb.; Unemployment at 7.8%

Orange County's job losses continued at an accelerated pace in February as employers here cut 72,300 workers versus a year earlier, surpassing January's stunning 64,600 layoffs.

Citigroup CFO to Run Troubled Bank Unit

Citigroup Inc., in a significant management shake-up, named Gary Crittenden to run a unit housing underperforming and toxic assets the bank wants to get rid of, and tapped Edward Kelly to replace him as chief financial officer.

Xerox Shares Hit After Profit Warning

Xerox Corp. chopped its first-quarter earnings forecast by as much as 85%, as the slowdown in office equipment spending badly hurt revenue and thwarted its cost-cutting efforts.

Thursday, March 19

Treasury Launches $5B Auto Supplier Aid Plan

The Treasury Department on Thursday pledged to provide up to $5 billion in financing support to auto suppliers to help them survive a massive downturn in car sales.

Report: Lennar's Haddad Could Run New LandSource Venture

Local Lennar Corp. executive Emile Haddad could be tapped to run a new company that would oversee the assets of LandSource Communities Development LLC if they are acquired out of bankruptcy by the Miami-based homebuilder and others, the Wall Street Journa

Edwards Wins Patent Case

Irvine-based heart valve maker Edwards Lifesciences Corp. said Thursday that a German court determined that it didn't infringe on a patent held by Cook Inc.

Beckman Rises on Upgrade

Fullerton-based Beckman Coulter Inc.'s stock rose Thursday after an analyst upgraded it because of recurring revenue and its $800 million deal for Olympus Corp.'s diagnostic business.

FedEx Says Taking Market Share Despite Slump

Package delivery giant and U.S. economic bellwether FedEx Corp said on Thursday it was taking market share despite a recession that drove its profit down 75%, and its shares jumped.

Drug Maker Cortex Cuts Jobs

Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc., a small Irvine drug maker with roots in research from the University of California, Irvine, said Thursday that it cut half its workforce as part of a restructuring.

Wal-Mart Awarding $2B to U.S. Hourly Employees

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is awarding approximately $2 billion to its U.S. hourly employees through financial incentives, including handing out $933.6 million in bonuses on Thursday, after the world's largest retailer gained market share amid a recession.

Wednesday, March 18

Healthcare Technology Company Raises $6M

InstaMed Inc., a healthcare payment processing company with offices in Newport Beach and Philadelphia, said it has raised $6 million in equity financing.

AIG Debacle Chills Investor Interest in Bailout Plans

The American International Group bonus payment debacle could not have come at a worse time for a government that desperately needs to attract up to $2 trillion of private capital for its latest efforts to repair a crippled financial system.

Freedom Debt Rating Falls Further; Payments Being Made, CEO Says

A steep decline in cash flow at the parent company of the Orange County Register drove a further decline into junk status for the debt of Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc.

British Regulators OK Botox Challenger

The long-predicted competition for Botox, the blockbuster wrinkle remover from Irvine-based Allergan Inc., is looming.

Entrepreneurs Honored at Business Journal Event

The Business Journal honored seven entrepreneurs,six of whom are beating the odds in industries especially hurt by the recession,at its eighth annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards on Wednesday.

IBM in Talks to Buy Sun Microsystems

IBM is in talks to buy Sun Microsystems Inc., sources with knowledge of the matter said, a move that could bolster the technology giant against rivals in the high-end computer server market.

Higher Gas, Clothing Prices Push Up CPI

Inflation rose in February on higher gasoline and apparel prices, government data showed on Wednesday, pointing to some pricing power in the recession-hit economy and easing fears of deflation for now.

Mindspeed Jumps on Quarterly Outlook

Shares of Newport Beach chipmaker Mindspeed Technologies Inc. jumped Wednesday after the company restated its sales outlook for the current quarter.

Tuesday, March 17

Housing Starts Surge, Inflation Slower

New housing starts and permits unexpectedly rebounded in February, according to data on Tuesday that provided a rare dose of good news for the recession-hit economy and fractured housing market.

Home Prices Stop Slide, See First Increase Since June

Orange County's median home price inched up $5,000 in February, the first month-over-month increase in prices seen here since last June.

Retired Pimco Exec Thompson Nominated as Citigroup Director

Bill Thompson, the former chief executive of Newport Beach bond fund manager Pacific Investment Management Co., has been nominated to serve as a director on Citigroup Inc.'s board.

Memory Slump Eases Some for Kingston

Kingston Technology Co. and other makers of memory products may be turning a corner after a tough 2008.

House Bill Would Slap Surtax on AIG Bonuses

A Democratic congressman said on Tuesday he has introduced a bill that would slap a 60% surtax on large bonuses to be paid to executives at bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc.

Lehman Puts Two Bank Units on Market: Source

Bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. is auctioning a thrift and an industrial bank it owns, and the process is in the early stages, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Monday, March 16

Medical Device Trade Group Offers Advertising Guidelines

A medical trade group is calling for its device maker members to adopt voluntary advertising guidelines, in the Healthcare column

Fisker Raises More Money, now at $94M

Irvine-based Fisker Automotive Inc., the maker of hybrid electric sports cars, has raised $3.5 million, bringing its total raised to $94 million.

READER LETTERS

Letters to the Editor. Downturn Scorecard; Thinking Positive

Deal Downturn

Tougher Financing, Cautious Buyers Drive Down Sales, Despite Lower Valuations

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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

Output Plummets, Manufacturing at Record Low

Industrial output fell to its lowest level in almost seven years in February and manufacturing in New York state slumped further this month, according to data on Monday that pointed to a worsening economy.

Lindora Retail Crash Course: Packaging, Displays, Pricing

A look at what went into Lindora's recent launch of weight loss kits in Rite Aid stores

OCBJ SUPPLEMENTS and GUIDES

Human Resources Guide, Spring 2009

Saab Dealer Likes Idea of Breaking from Struggling GM

Saab of OC sees a possible separation from General Motors as a good thing, in the Marketplace column

Costa Mesa Direct Mailer Doubles in Size with Buy

A local direct mail company has doubled its size with an acquisition, in the Small Business column

Collectors Universe CEO Steps Down

Chief Executive Officer Michael Haynes of Santa Ana-based Collectors Universe Inc. is set to step down from the company effective April 1.

Treasury Close to Bank Rules Proposal

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will soon propose an overhaul of the financial regulatory system that is expected to give the Federal Reserve powers to monitor broad economic risks, a Treasury spokesman confirmed on Monday.

Bernanke Sees Recovery Beginning in 2010

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested in a taped interview on Sunday that the recession could last most of the year and said the biggest risk was that the political will needed to fix the fractured financial system could be lacking.

Potential Buyout Targets

Capsules of some local buyout targets

Don Koll Gets Surprise Visitor; Igor Holds Court

Don Koll Gets Surprise Visitor; Igor Holds Court

REAL ESTATE WATCH: NORTH & CENTRAL COUNTY

The Central and North County commercial real estate markets felt the brunt of the recession, in Real Estate Watch

Nationwide Changes Course on Real Estate Buys

A local owner of senior housing and other medical buildings is pulling back from buying property

REAL ESTATE DEALS

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

GIVING

Fundraisers and charitable donations from companies and people

MARKET WATCH

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

Real Estate Exec Takes on UBS, Sparks Global Firestorm

Newport Beach billionaire Igor Olenicoff is in the middle of a brewing global firestorm surrounding Switzerland's secretive banking system

Sound Enhancer SRS Makes Notebook Play

SRS Labs is making a play for notebook computers

Skincare Company Plans Media Push for Drugstore Products

An Irvine maker of skincare products is planning to spend about $50 million on marketing this year

Memory Slump Eases Some for Kingston

Kingston and other makers of memory products may be turning a corner after a tough 2008

Healthcare Cos. Attracting Big Buyouts, Set to Continue

Healthcare Cos. Attracting Big Buyouts, Set to Continue

Deal Volume, Value Dropped in '08, Small Buyers Active

Deal Volume, Value Dropped in '08, Small Buyers Active

San Diego Judge Rejects Broadcom Complaint

A San Diego court on Monday dismissed a complaint by Irvine-based Broadcom Corp. against rival Qualcomm Inc. in the two chipmakers' ongoing battles over cell phone chip patents.

STEC Names Deutsche Exec to Microsemi's Board Spot

STEC filled the board seat left by Microsemi Chief Executive Jim Peterson, in the Technology column

Threshie Returns to Lead Register Self-Service Ad Site

The Orange County Register has brought back a favorite son, in the Media & Marketing column

Tech Companies Sit on Cash As Cushion, Wait for Bottom

Tech Companies Sit on Cash As Cushion, Wait for Bottom

In-N-Out Up, But Sales Slip at Women Cos.

The county's largest women-owned businesses saw their first down year since 2001

New (Majority) Man

A Q & A; with retired healthcare exec Larry Higby, now the chairman of New Majority's statewide operation

STATE OF THE STATE

Chipmakers are nervous about air quality rule. New workplace

VIEWPOINT

An economist laments that the California's "business as usual" policy isn't going to solve its budget woes, in Viewpoint

Irvine Apartment Investor Puts Assets in Chapter 11

It's been a tough few weeks for one Irvine-based apartment owner, in the Real Estate column

Friday, March 13

Consumers Slightly Less Grim, Trade Gap Narrows

Consumers' mood grew less grim in March, according to a survey released on Friday, while the latest figures showed the trade deficit narrowed in January to its smallest in more than six years.

China Expresses Worry Over its U.S. Assets

Premier Wen Jiabao held out the prospect of extra stimulus spending if needed to hit China's 8% growth goal this year and called on Washington to ease worries Beijing has about the safety of its vast U.S. assets.

Santa Ana's MSC.Software Sees Executive Shakeup

Santa Ana-based MSC.Software Corp., a maker of simulation software for manufacturers, aerospace and defense contractors, landed a temporary chief executive officer after a sudden shakeup in its executive ranks.

Quest Settles Options Probe, Executives Fined

Aliso Viejo-based Quest Software Inc.'s long stock options ordeal has finally come to a close.

Ruling Due Next Week on Naming Merrill Bonus Earners

A judge said he expects to rule by the end of next week on whether the names of top bonus recipients at Merrill Lynch & Co. should remain confidential.

Thursday, March 12

Report: Quiksilver Hires Investment Bank to Raise Money

Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc. has hired boutique investment bank Peter J. Solomon & Co. to help raise money or to find an investor in the struggling clothing maker, according to Reuters.

Jobless Seen Nearing 10%

Unemployment will approach 10% as the country endures its worst recession since World War Two, leaving more than 13 million Americans jobless, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

GE Stripped of Top-Tier Credit Rating

Standard & Poor's stripped General Electric Co. of its AAA credit rating, citing the performance of its finance unit and dealing a new blow to one of the world's biggest manufacturing companies, but its shares rose 11% as investors feared the cut would be

Roche Wins Genentech With Raised $46.8B Offer

Roche Holding AG has struck a deal with Genentech Inc to buy all outstanding shares for $46.8 billion, or $95 each, ending a long pursuit of the U.S. biotech group and its lucrative cancer drugs.

STEC Shares Soar on Outlook

Shares of Santa Ana's STEC Inc., which makes flash memory drives for corporate and industrial uses, soared Thursday after the company gave an outlook for the current quarter that beat Wall Street's expectations.

PacSun Results Better Than Expected; Another Loss Projected

Anaheim-based mall retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. reported a better-than-expected loss for the three months through January and said it projects a loss for the current quarter in line with what Wall Street expects.

Wednesday, March 11

OC's Wealthiest Lose $5.8B Since September

Orange County's billionaires lost a combined $5.8 billion of wealth since September, according to Forbes Magazine.

Quiksilver: European Credit Line Extended; DC Shoes Sale in Offing?

Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc. said it got a two month reprieve on a $70 million European line of credit based on what could be the pending sale of its DC Shoes brand.

Broadcom, Qualcomm Fight Moves to South Korea

South Korean regulators have charged Qualcomm Inc. with unfair trade practices in a case related to the San Diego-based chipmaker's long running dispute with Irvine's Broadcom Corp.

Lamborghini Orange County Owner Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charge

One of the owners of Lamborghini Orange County, which abruptly closed in November, has agreed to plead guilty to charges he defrauded the finance arm of Volkswagen AG, owner of the Italian sports car maker.

Tuesday, March 10

Pandit Says Citi Had Strong Start to 2009

Citigroup Inc. was profitable in the first two months of 2009 and is confident about its capital strength, Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said, easing concerns about the troubled bank's survival prospects.

Healthcare Software Company Raises $5.5M

Enclarity Inc., an Aliso Viejo-based company that makes software used by healthcare payers, said Tuesday that it's received $5.5 million of third-round venture capital funding.

Earnings Preview: Quiksilver's Condition Set to Outweigh Actual Results

Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc. has a lot riding on its financial results due Wednesday.

United Tech to Cut 11,600 Jobs

United Technologies Corp. cut its 2009 profit target by about 13% and said it would eliminate 11,600 jobs as it no longer anticipates an economic recovery this year.

Wall St Rises Further, Nasdaq Jumps 5%

Stocks rose sharply on Tuesday as Citigroup's reassurances on its performance and Washington's efforts to tackle the economic slide made investors optimistic.

Roy Disney's Firm Urges Sale of Collectors Universe

An investment firm backed by Roy Disney is urging directors of Santa Ana-based Collectors Universe Inc. to put the collectibles authenticator up for sale.

Monday, March 9

Stalled Sales

Top 10 Office, Industrial, Retail, Apartment Deals Valued at 30% Less than 2007 Transactions

Title Companies Saw Business Drop by Half in 2008

Title Companies Saw Business Drop by Half in 2008

Prolific Prof Pumps UCI Law Ranking; McKnight Surfs On

Prolific Prof Pumps UCI Law Ranking; McKnight Surfs On

Maguire Properties' Big Bets, Losses Dominate Top Deals

If things go well for Maguire, the landlord could be at the center of the biggest deal this year

REAL ESTATE DEALS

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

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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

Obama Lifts Bush Restrictions on Stem Cell Research

President Barack Obama lifted some restrictions on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research on Monday, angering many abortion opponents but cheering those who believe the study could produce treatments for many diseases.

Some Hotels in Danger of Foreclosing, Tough Financing

Some Hotels in Danger of Foreclosing, Tough Financing

AROUND THE COUNTY

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

Irvine Video Game Maker Launching 'Warrior Epic'

True Games Interactive is readying its first multiplayer online game, in the Technology column

Toy Story

A look into the local sales and marketing office of Japanese toy maker Bandai

Merck to Buy Schering-Plough for $41.1B

Merck & Co. Inc. said on Monday that it would acquire Schering-Plough Corp for $41.1 billion, uniting the makers of cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin in the second megadeal for Big Pharma in weeks.

Developers See Fee Relief in Irvine Business Complex

Development fees in the Irvine Business Complex are going down, in the Real Estate column

MARKET WATCH

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

KUDOS

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

Funded Banks Lending, If They Can

The sticking point for local bankers with TARP money is finding loans to make

READER LETTERS

A reader wants to know if human decency recently got run over by the "It's all about me" crowd. PLUS: Mortgage Tax Credit

PEOPLE

Hirings, promotions and other moves at local businesses

Waste, Fraud Fighter Surges on Push to Rein in Health Costs

Santa Ana's AMG-SIU is in a good place in bad times

Hotel Sales Dropped Last Year, Dollar Volume Tanked by 60%

Hotel Sales Dropped Last Year, Dollar Volume Tanked by 60%

Chip Startup Moves HQ to Huntington Beach

A well-funded Swiss chip startup has shifted its headquarters to OC

Wanted: Best Places to Work for Inaugural Business Journal List

Is your company one of the best to work for in OC?

Memorial Finds Anaheim Hospital Buyer

Memorial Finds Anaheim Hospital Buyer

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County. March 10 - 18, 2009

Developer, Land Broker Join Other Companies

Two OC real estate companies have combined with counterparts here and in Arizona.

Beckman Targeting Europe by Way of Japan With Deal

Beckman is making its biggest acquisition since 1997

Germany's Villeroy & Boch Enlists Local PR, Ad Shops

Two local agencies will be handling marketing for Villeroy Boch's bath and wellness division, in the Media & Marketing column

Kawasaki Eyes Web as Bike Sales Slump

Kawasaki is looking to Internet marketing to drive business

REAL ESTATE WATCH: AIRPORT/CENTRAL COAST AREA

The airport area's commercial market felt the brunt of the economy in the fourth quarter but also showed some resilience, in Real Estate Watch

Buffett Says Economy Fell Off Cliff

Warren Buffett said on Monday the economy had "fallen off a cliff" but would eventually recover, although a rebound could kindle inflation worse than that experienced in the late 1970s.

OCBJ SUPPLEMENTS and GUIDES

Hotel Guide 2009

Swiss Chip Startup Moves HQ to Huntington Beach

A well-funded Swiss chip startup has shifted its headquarters to Orange County.

Vans President Promoted, Company Sees Sales Growth

The president of Vans Inc. has taken on an additional title, in the Apparel column

Another Stock Buyback for Quest Software

Aliso Viejo's Quest Software Inc., a maker of business software, is set to buy back some of its shares for the second time in a few months.

Hyundai Dealers See Lift From Hardship Return Policy

Hyundai's assurance program may be spurring sales, in the Marketplace column

Falling Memory Prices Impact Kingston's 2008 Sales

Kingston Technology Co., the Fountain Valley-based maker of memory products for computers and consumer electronics, saw a decline in yearly sales last year for the first time in half a decade.

Analyst Weighs In on Medtronic's Buy of CoreValve

Wall Street and others are continuing to weigh in on Medtronic's CoreValve buy, in the Healthcare column

REVIEWS

Spa Gaucin, St. Regis Monarch Beach. Caipirinha at Las Brisas, Laguna Beach

Friday, March 6

U.S. to File New Criminal Charges Against Madoff

U.S. prosecutors will file a criminal "information" in their case against accused swindler Bernard Madoff if he waives an indictment, a court document said on Friday.

Prosecutors to File New Criminal Charges Against Madoff

Prosecutors will file a criminal "information" in their case against accused swindler Bernard Madoff if he waives an indictment, a court document said on Friday.

Standard Debt Rating Cut Further Into Junk

Irvine-based Standard Pacific Corp. saw its credit rating fall further into junk bond status Friday as Moody's Corp. cut its ratings for the homebuilder.

2008 Stock Star Fuel Systems Plunges on Outlook

Shares of Santa Ana-based Fuel Systems Solutions Inc., Orange County's strongest major stock in 2008, plunged Friday, a day after the company reported a big profit drop and warned about 2009 results.

Mitsubishi Closes Design Studio

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. has closed its Mitsubishi Research and Design of America office and design center in Cypress.

Economy Sheds 651,000 Jobs in February

The unemployment rate hit a 25-year high of 8.1% last month as employers buckling under the strain of a severe recession axed 651,000 jobs, government data showed on Friday.

Wells Fargo Cuts Dividend 85%, Sees New Savings

Wells Fargo & Co. slashed its dividend 85% on Friday, a widely expected move the fourth-largest bank said will save $5 billion a year.

Clean Energy Has Narrower Loss, Shares Rise

Shares of Seal Beach-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a provider of natural gas for trucks, were higher Friday after the company reported a smaller loss that beat expectations.

Thursday, March 5

Retailers Report Weak Sales, But Wal-Mart Shines

Top retailers saw anemic same-store sales in February as shoppers kept a tight hold on spending, but Wal-Mart Stores Inc. again beat expectations and said lower gasoline prices had relaxed some household budgets.

County Lost 64,600 Jobs in Jan.; 7.5% Unemployment

Orange County's yearly job losses spiked in January and unemployment topped annual averages seen during the early 1990s recession.

Microsemi Slumps after Analyst Cuts Estimates

Shares of Microsemi Corp., the Irvine-based maker of chips for military and industrial uses, slumped Thursday after an analyst cut his estimates on the stock and lowered his profit expectations.

Wet Seal February Sales Better Than Expected

February sales at Foothill Ranch-based mall store operator Wet Seal Inc. did better than analysts expected as lower prices and shifts in clothes helped results.

One in 8 Households Late Paying Or In Foreclosure

About one in every eight households, a record share, ended 2008 behind on their mortgage payments or in the foreclosure process as job losses intensified a housing crisis spawned by lax lending practices, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Thursday.

GM Auditors Raise Doubt on Viability

General Motors Corp. on Thursday said its auditors had raised "substantial doubt" about its ability to survive outside bankruptcy if it fails to stem its losses and stop burning cash.

Irvine Apartment Investor's Affiliates File for Bankruptcy

More than a dozen affiliates of Irvine-based apartment investor Bethany Group LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday.

Wednesday, March 4

William Lyon Narrows Q4 Loss to $23M

Newport Beach-based homebuilder William Lyon Homes Inc. on Wednesday reported a $23.2 million loss for the fourth quarter, about $163 million less than it lost a year earlier.

Profit Down at Costco, BJ's Beats View with Food Sales

Costco Wholesale Corp. posted a lower profit as it slashed prices aggressively to win market share, while smaller rival BJ's Wholesale Club Inc. topped Wall Street expectations by luring shoppers with fresh food and prepared meals.

Treasury Launches Mortgage Modification Program

The Obama administration on Wednesday gave lenders a green light to begin modifying home mortgages under a new $75 billion program aimed primarily at people facing imminent financial hardship.

Service Sector Contracts Again in February: ISM

The service sector shrank further in February but by less than expected, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Memorial Picks Buyer for Anaheim Hospital

Fountain Valley-based Memorial Health Services said Wednesday that it is selling its 224-bed Anaheim Memorial Medical Center to AHMC Healthcare Inc. of Alhambra.

Tuesday, March 3

Treasury, Fed Launch Loan Program, Eye Expansion

The Federal Reserve and Treasury on Tuesday extended a new securities loan program to include equipment and vehicle fleet leases and said a future expansion to $1 trillion may also include some of the riskier mortgage and debt securities now plaguing bank

Navigation Software Startup Makes Acquisition

Aliso Viejo-based Networks In Motion Inc., a maker navigation and local search software for mobile devices, said Tuesday it bought some assets from TrafficGauge Inc., a Seattle-based maker of software for real-time traffic.

Bernanke Urges Bold Action to Avoid Lengthy Slump

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday urged bold action action to pull the economy out of a deepening slump, even if it means a surge in government debt.

Device Maker Masimo Q4 Profit Beats Street

Irvine medical device maker Masimo Corp. on Tuesday reported a fourth-quarter profit before taxes that beat Wall Street's expectations.

Nursing Home Operator Sun Rises on Q4 Results

Shares of Sun Healthcare Group Inc., an Irvine operator of nursing homes and other businesses, rose Tuesday on fourth-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations.

Hyundai, Kia Beat Industry With February Sales

Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America Inc. and sister company Kia Motor America Inc. of Irvine fared better than most automakers again in February.

January Pending Home Sales Drop 7.7%

Pending sales of existing homes fell sharply in January, with the index dropping to a record low, according to a report on Tuesday that showed the deteriorating economy was keeping buyers on the sidelines.

Monday, March 2

Masimo Touts Business Model at Growth Conference

Masimo Corp.'s chief executive is singing the gospel of recurring revenue, in the Healthcare column

Reading Assignment: Think Together's Story

The story behind Donald Bren-backed Think Together

Southwest Taps Y & R; Unit for Frequent Flier Program

Southwest Airlines has hired Wunderman as its agency of record for its frequent flier program, in the Media & Marketing column

VALVE OPENING

The race for a new type of heart valve has gotten serious

Freddie Mac CEO Moffett Quits After Six-Month Stint

Freddie Mac on Monday said Chief Executive Officer David Moffett is quitting just six months after being named to the post as the government forced the No. 2 mortgage finance company into conservatorship.

REAL ESTATE DEALS

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

PEOPLE

Hirings, promotions and other moves at local businesses

AIG Fallout, Economic Worry Slam Wall Street

Stocks slid on Monday in a broad sell-off as a record $61.7 billion quarterly loss at embattled insurer American International Group fueled fears that the global financial crisis is spiraling widely.

CoCaLo Eyes Sales in Shifts Among Expectant Parents

A look at nursery item maker CoCaLo after its sale to Russ Berrie, in the Small Business column

Printer Maker Moves Production to Mexico

Printronix is set to send the last of its local manufacturing operations to Mexico

Chef of the Year

Chef at Mr. Stox restaurant in Anaheim.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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

First American Eyes Mortgage Reform; Spinoff Still on Hold

A look at First American's fourth quarter and 2008

Asset Sale Winds Down Medical Device Maker

The assets of Alsius Corp., an Irvine medical device maker, are being bought by Zoll Medical Corp. of Chelmsford, Mass, for $12 million.

Drop in Government Contracts, Profits Push Ceradyne Layoffs

Ceradyne is continuing to lay workers off

Debt Bomb

A local executive talks about how consumer and government debt is ruining our economy.

REVIEW

"Noises Off" at South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, through Saturday

Noritsu America to Buy Maker of Photo Kiosks

Buena Park's Noritsu America Corp., a maker of photo software, scanners and printers, said Monday it plans to buy a maker of self-service photo printing kiosks for stores.

Broadcom Sees Gains With Nokia, Samsung

Wall Street analysts still are on the fence about Broadcom's big ambitions in cell phone chips

Pension Pause

The Orange County Employees Retirement System is going on the defensive

OCBJ SUPPLEMENTS and GUIDES

Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards 2009

Report: Pimco Advising U.S. on Bank of America Assets

Newport Beach-based bond fund manager Pacific Investment Management Co. has been hired to advise the federal government on its bailout of Bank of America Corp., according to a Bloomberg report.

Toshiba's Recent Buy May Help Western Dig, Seagate

Toshiba's pending buy of Fujitsu's disk drive business could be a good thing for other industry players, in the Technology column

Buy.com Maintains Advertising Push after Good Q4

Buy.com is hoping to keep the momentum of a promising fourth quarter going

REAL ESTATE WATCH: ORANGE COUNTY RETAIL MARKET

Retail properties continued to feel the hurt in the fourth quarter, in Real Estate Watch. Plus RE Charts

Group to Open 2 Restaurants in Costa Mesa Art District

Group to Open 2 Restaurants in Costa Mesa Art District. FoodArt Group set to hire 200, in Segerstrom buildings

Hyundai Props Up Employment at Automakers, Even With Cuts

How the auto industry's ongoing downturn played out at local automakers last year

GIVING

Fundraisers and charitable donations from companies and people

Retail's Relative Bright Spot: Grocers, Ethnic Stores

Supermarkets are holding their own in the downturn, in the Marketplace column

HSBC slashes 6,100 U.S. jobs, sets huge share sale

HSBC launched Britain's biggest rights issue on Monday, to raise 12.85 billion pounds ($18.3 billion) to help it overcome big losses in the United States and exploit the woes of weaker rivals.

Smith Micro Lands Deals for Wireless Software

Smith Micro is looking to be a player in the next generation of wireless networks

FIFI's BEST

Hometown Favorites, Chef's Signature Restaurants Bumping Up Offerings for Diners

UC Irvine Hospital Set to Open This Week

UCI is readying its new hospital for its first patients

CALENDAR

A listing of events happening all around Orange County. March 2 - 11, 2009

GOP Splits Over Anaheim Train, State Budget Deal

GOP Splits Over Anaheim Train, State Budget Deal

Construction Company ARB Gets Contract Extension

The parent of ARB is doing more work for a big Southern California utility company, in the Real Estate column