Stories for May 2009
Friday, May 29
Canadian auto parts group Magna has reached a preliminary deal with General Motors Corp. to invest in Opel, boosting hopes for a deal with the U.S. and German governments to save the carmaker.
Optimism over the government's stimulus programs to combat the recession lifted consumer confidence in May to its highest level in eight months, a survey released on Friday showed.
The economy contracted slightly less than initially estimated in the first quarter, while corporate profits rebounded, according to a government report on Friday that pointed to moderation in the recession.
Cypress-based Vans America, part of North Carolina's VF Corp., named Kevin Bailey president.
Shares of Quality Systems Inc., an Irvine-based medical software company, fell Friday after its most recent quarterly results missed Wall Street's expectations.
Thursday, May 28
General Motors Corp. said on Thursday it had reached a deal with some major bondholders that would give them a bigger stake in a reorganized automaker and could pave the way for a fast-track bankruptcy backed by the Treasury within days.
Lake Forest-based disk drive maker Western Digital Corp. sees better-than-expected market conditions in the June quarter, according to a government filing.
Santa Ana-based real estate brokerage and investor Grubb & Ellis Co. posted a first quarter net loss of $41.5 million on Thursday, up from a net loss of $6.3 million a year earlier, thanks in large part to continued weakness in the commercial real estate
New orders for long-lasting manufactured goods saw their biggest gain in 16 months in April and fewer workers filed for new jobless benefits last week, according to data on Thursday that suggested the deep recession was abating.
Wet Seal Inc.'s shares tumbled Friday, a day after the Foothill Ranch-based mall retailer reported quarterly profits that were 44% off from a year earlier and said its second-quarter earnings would be below Wall Street expectations.
The price of an existing Orange County home dropped by $12,000 in April from a month earlier, the California Association of Realtors said on Thursday.
Time Warner Inc. on Thursday made official plans to separate its AOL division sometime around the end of this year, a widely expected move that sheds one of the media company's weakest divisions.
Wednesday, May 27
Irvine-based Freedom Communications Inc., parent company of the Orange County Register, has named Mark McEachen chief financial officer.
General Motors Corp. moved closer to filing the largest industrial bankruptcy after a crucial bond exchange proposal failed and as officials in Germany neared a decision on which company would take over GM's European brand, Opel.
Sales of existing homes in the United States rose 2.9% in April, according to an industry survey on Wednesday that supported views the three-year housing recession was near a bottom.
The number of problem banks and thrifts soared to 305 in the first quarter of 2009, up 21% from 252 in the prior quarter, marking the highest number since 1994, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said on Wednesday.
Irvine drug developer Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Wednesday that three institutional investors agreed to purchase $20 million worth of its stock.
Tuesday, May 26
The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that it would hear an appeal by Merck & Co. of a ruling that reinstated a securities fraud lawsuit involving the company's disclosures to investors about its withdrawn Vioxx pain drug.
Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc., an Irvine drug maker, said Tuesday a judge awarded it $4.3 million from an ongoing dispute with Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics Inc.
Investors didn't bat an eye at Emulex Corp.'s latest letter to stockholders on Tuesday.
The Food and Drug Administration has delayed the approval of using Botox to treat upper limb spasticity, or loss of muscle function and tone, asking for more information.
Arden Engineering Inc., an Orange-based aerospace parts maker, is expanding operations to Anaheim's Platinum Triangle after signing one of the largest leases the county's industrial market's seen in some time.
Consumer confidence soared in May to its highest level in eight months, suggesting underlying improvement in the economy after a grim first quarter that witnessed a record plunge in home prices.
Prices of homes in March fell a sharp 18.7% from a year earlier, though some relief appeared to be in sight as, for the second month, prices did not slide at a record rate as they had been doing since late 2007.
Monday, May 25
The local low-rise office market saw another period of dismal activity in the first quarter, in Real Estate Watch
Arden Engineering is expanding operations to Anaheim's Platinum Triangle in one of the largest leases the county's industrial market has seen in some time
Legal Headlines: Robinson v. Tobacco, Callahan v. Blackwater
Vertical Marketing Network has started a campaign for Codemasters Software Inc.'s newest racing video game, in the Media & Marketing column
A local executive thinks there is the opportunity to create more than 360,000 jobs in the next 12 to 18 months
The lights are starting to be turned on at Astoria, a condominium tower at Lennar's Central Park West development, in the Real Estate column
A federal court has set an Oct. 13 trial date for SenoRx's patent infringement lawsuit with Hologic, in the Healthcare column,
Beckman Coulter is under way on what it calls its "Orange County consolidation project,"
A local health aficionado recently launched a line of coffee that blends coffee beans with antioxidants, in the Small Business column
Startup Aktino was acquired recently by Canada's Positron for undisclosed terms, in the Technology column
Five OC auto dealer groups made Ward's Dealer magazine's MegaDealer 100 list, in the Marketplace column
A Q & A; with the president of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association
John Laing Homes?remaining assets could be bought for less than $20 million next month
Glenn Stearns is one of the last independents standing in the devastated mortgage industry
UnitedHealth is finding one size isn't fitting all when it comes to how it's been melding PacifiCare into its fold
Quiksilver's chief executive said the acquisition of Rossignol was a mistake
Sage Software is going through its second major restructuring in the past two years
Hyundai Motor America is considering expanding its push into luxury cars by launching a new, separate brand
Friday, May 22
Orange County's nonfarm jobs declined by 72,600, or 4.8%, in April versus a year earlier in what was the biggest yearly job loss so far during the recession.
Investors sent shares of Anaheim-based mall retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. down almost 9% in midday New York trading Friday, a day after the company warned of larger-than-expected losses for the current quarter.
Irvine's Vizio Inc. is back on top of the liquid crystal display TV market. The company retook the No. 1 spot for the most popular type of flat TVs in the first quarter, according DisplaySearch, an Austin, Texas- based unit of market researcher NPD Group
The president of the Canadian Auto Workers says the union and General Motors Canada have agreed on a cost-cutting deal.
Bill Gross, manager of the world's biggest bond fund, warned on Thursday the United States will eventually lose its top AAA credit rating, a fear that had already spooked financial markets on Thursday and could keep the dollar, stocks and bonds under heav
Cigarette companies systematically lied for years in order to sell tobacco products they knew were dangerous, a appeals court said on Friday as it largely upheld a trial judge's racketeering verdict.
Thursday, May 21
The number of workers filing new claims for jobless aid fell 12,000 last week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday, while so-called continued claims rose to a fresh record as the recession battered employment.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor's lowered its outlook on Britain to negative on Thursday, citing government debt that would be hard to rein in and political uncertainty about the policy response with an election looming.
Anaheim-based mall retailer Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. reported results for its recently ended quarter that beat Wall Street's expectations but warned that results for the current quarter would fall below expectations.
A nun, lawyer, healthy cook and two healthcare executives were honored Thursday at the Business Journal's 15th annual Women in Business luncheon in Irvine.
The head of Fiat SpA said it had more than a 50% chance of succeeding in its bid for Opel, adding that the other contenders did not have the expertise to save the struggling car maker, according to a newspaper report.
Shares of San Clemente-based Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. slumped Thursday, a day after the hotel owner announced plans to sell about $100 million worth of shares to pay off credit lines and to fund a debt buyback.
Wednesday, May 20
Bank of America Corp. raised $13.47 billion through a share sale, marking a major step toward meeting the government's requirements for capital-raising following the recent "stress testing" of the bank.
Irvine-based chipmaker Broadcom Corp. took another jab at Emulex Corp. in its ongoing hostile bid to buy the Costa Mesa-based maker of electronics for data storage networks, according to a government filing.
Lake Forest-based disk drive maker Western Digital Corp. is selling a Malaysia parts plant to Japan's Hitachi Ltd.
California voters gave an emphatic thumbs-down Tuesday to five ballot measures that elected leaders were banking on to help plug a gaping hole in the state budget.
San Clemente-based Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. has sold a Marriott hotel in Napa for $36 million.
Japan's economy shrank a record 4% in the first quarter as domestic demand and investment buckled, threatening to crush an anticipated export-led rebound in the second half.
Edwards Lifesciences Corp., the Irvine-based heart valve maker, said Wednesday that nearly 1,100 European patients who received its Sapien less-invasive aortic valve had high survival rates 30 days after implantation.
Tuesday, May 19
Voters will begin heading to the polls this morning to decide the face of a sextet of budget-related ballot measures legislators and the governor argue are necessary to help them fix California's budget troubles.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will propose the most aggressive increase in auto fuel efficiency ever in a policy initiative that would also directly regulate emissions for the first time and resolve a dispute with California over cleaner cars.
Orange County's median home price fell $10,000 in April, reversing a two-month stretch of moderately rising home prices here.
Costa Mesa-based body armor maker Ceradyne Inc. said Tuesday it would save on manufacturing costs by closing a plant in France.
Aliso Viejo-based Clarient Inc. said it completed the second part of a stock deal with a Connecticut venture capital firm and paid off its debt.
New housing starts and permits unexpectedly fell to record lows in April, a government report showed on Tuesday, denting hopes that stability in the housing market was imminent.
Monday, May 18
A slew of apartment complex sales by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance has proven to be a big source of business for local investors
A local auto executive says there's a big misconception that auto dealers somehow create a cost burden on manufacturers
D-Link Systems recently saw a big executive shakeup, in the Technology column
Irvine-based IDM Pharma Inc., a cancer drug maker, said Monday that it was being bought by Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. for $67 million.
Diedrich and other coffee stocks have been riding a sizable wave lately
The latest on OC's dining scene, in the Executive Dining column
Will Flanders Hit The Bunny Trail? Rados Remembered
Toyo Tire U.S.A. is looking to appeal to soccer moms and sedan drivers who are the domain of its larger rivals
Dole Fresh Vegetables wants to get its prepackaged salads to stick with shoppers, in the Media & Marketing column
Lowe's Cos. Inc. posted better-than-expected quarterly profit on Monday as it saw some strength in outdoor projects during the spring, even as consumers still shunned big-ticket home renovations.
The search is on to fill Bank of America Corp.'s market president position for Orange County.
Fullerton-based medical diagnostic equipment maker Beckman Coulter Inc. detailed plans Monday to raise up to $750 million by selling shares and debt to investors.
ReVision Optics is looking to add itself to the fray, in the Healthcare column
The United Auto Workers union expects a crucial round of restructuring talks with General Motors Corp. "to intensify this coming week" ahead of an end-of-May deadline set by the Obama administration.
Lennar is seeking to turn over redevelopment of the former El Toro Marine base to a key executive going out on his own
How small businesses are changing their marketing strategies
How Advanced Medical Optics is settling in to its new life as Abbott Medical Optics
AIG is to speed up plans to list its Asian subsidiary through an IPO that could raise more than $4 billion, as the bailed-out insurer seeks to raise cash to pay back government loans.
Lennar Corp. is seeking to turn over redevelopment of the former El Toro Marine base in Irvine to a key executive going out on his own.
STEC's chief executive is secure in the company's solid state drive monopoly
Competition has arrived for Allergan's blockbuster wrinkle-remover Botox
Friday, May 15
Retailers J.C. Penney Co. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. posted results that showed further evidence consumers were still cutting back on non-essential items, with Penney also warning profit for the year would be worse than analysts expected.
The county is losing the headquarters of one of its fastest growing companies as Fuel Systems Solutions Inc. in Santa Ana is moving its home base to New York.
General Motors Corp. plans to eliminate up to 1,200 U.S. dealerships, which are expected to begin receiving notices from the embattled automaker as soon as Friday, a person familiar with the plan said.
Consumer prices were unchanged last month and industrial output declined at a slower pace, reports showed on Friday, providing more evidence that the worst phase of the recession may be over.
Costa Mesa's Emulex Corp. on Friday rejected for the third time Broadcom Corp.'s hostile $764 million takeover bid for the maker of electronics for data storage networks.
Thursday, May 14
Chrysler LLC notified all U.S. dealers on Thursday about its plans to eliminate 25% of its retail showrooms and is seeking permission from a bankruptcy court to terminate franchise agreements.
One active Orange County auto dealership has made Chrysler LLC's list of 789 dealers targeted for closure.
It's hard to recall when the county's business and political interests have been as divided as they now are over next week's special election ballot.
Irvine-based homebuilder California Coastal Communities Inc. reported first-quarter revenue of $12.8 million on Thursday, a 156% increase from a year earlier on sales of high-priced homes at its Brightwater development in Huntington Beach.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering aisles filled with merchandise priced at $1 and taking other steps to boost sales in its second quarter, an executive said in an interview on Thursday.
The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, government data showed on Thursday, pushed up by auto plant shutdowns related to Chrysler's bankruptcy.
Wednesday, May 13
Verizon Communications Inc. will sell 4.8 million rural phone lines to Frontier Communications Inc. for $5.25 billion in stock, getting rid of the declining business to focus on wireless and broadband services.
Lake Forest-based Primoris Services Corp., the parent company of construction and engineering business ARB Inc., on Wednesday reported first quarter revenue of $128.7 million, a 24% decrease from a year earlier.
Newport Beach-based homebuilder William Lyon Homes Inc. on Wednesday reported a $69 million loss for the first quarter, a big jump from a year earlier, thanks in large part to write-downs of more than $62 million for land the company owns or has opted not
The war of words between Costa Mesa's Emulex Corp. and Irvine's Broadcom Corp. goes on as Emulex continues to play hard to get.
The European Commission fined Intel Corp. a record 1.06 billion euros ($1.45 billion) on Wednesday and ordered it to halt illegal rebates and other practices it used to squeeze out its rival, AMD.
Sales at retailers fell for a second straight month in April as cash-strapped consumers held back on some purchases, according to a government report on Wednesday that dented hopes the economy was beginning to improve.
Tuesday, May 12
Santa Ana's Ingram Micro Inc., the largest distributor of technology products, is giving up $15 million to settle its role in accounting issues at Santa Clara-based McAfee Inc.
Bank of America sold $7.3 billion worth of shares in China Construction Bank on Tuesday, according to a source, just days after a government "stress test" found the struggling bank needed to find $34 billion worth of capital.
The University of California, Irvine, said Tuesday that it was awarded a $45 million grant over five years from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Higher unemployment, slow global growth and persistent government intervention in financial markets and companies will become the "new normal" for world economies, the chief executive of top bond fund Pimco said on Tuesday.
Home prices fell in nearly nine out of every 10 cities in the first quarter of this year as first-time buyers looking for bargains dominated the market.
ValueAct Capital Partners LP, a San Francisco hedge fund operator, has upped its stake in Aliso Viejo-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International to 17%.
Monday, May 11
The White House on Monday pushed up its forecast for the budget deficit for this year by $89 billion, reflecting the recession, a raft of new unemployment claims and corporate bailouts.
Owners, Investors See Drop in Tenants; Some Lowering Rents to Compensate for Economy
Bixby Land says it's ready to start planning its next round of acquisitions, in the Real Estate column
It's hard to recall when the county's business and political interests have been as divided as they are now over the upcoming special election ballot
An investment firm backed by one of OC's biggest names thinks now's the time to start buying buildings
A look at people, companies and institutions receiving awards, accolades, grants and other honors
Corinthian Colleges,a star of the recession,is changing up its management
It looks like local nursing home operators escaped a potentially major Medicare reimbursement hit, in the Healthcare column
Some believe that OC's auto sales market could hit bottom this year, in the Marketplace column
OC is a clear leader in the race to cure fuzzy vision with a special lens. Plus: Edwards Names Link as Director
Juxt Interactive is doubling its staff and office space after some account wins, in the Media & Marketing column
MUSIC: G & L; Guitars cofounder Leo Fender lives on at the guitar maker's Fullerton factory, in the Small Business column
The county's largest private companies saw their first slump in revenue in five years
Recession? Big Gifts For Chapman, UCI; Another Strand Sale
Broadcom could be racking up some good karma with its most recent charitable endeavor, in the Technology column
General Motors Corp. CEO Fritz Henderson said on Monday it is "more probable" GM will need to file for bankruptcy in order to restructure.
Reduced Consumer Spending Drops Need For New Retail Space
There's a new owner at the former Costa Mesa headquarters of Valeant Pharmaceuticals
Irvine's Aktino Inc., a startup maker of telecommunications gear, was acquired Monday by Canada's Positron Inc. for undisclosed terms.
Costa Mesa's Emulex Corp. has continued to lose ground to rival QLogic Corp. of Aliso Viejo in the market for a profitable bit of electronics for data storage networks.
Four big banks on Monday announced plans to sell more than $6 billion of common stock, in an effort to raise capital and repay funds received under the government's bank bailout program.
Things are starting to get nasty in Broadcom's bid for Emulex
Shares of Santa Ana's STEC Inc., a maker of flash memory drives for corporate and industrial uses, soared Monday after the company gave guidance for the current quarter that surpassed Wall Street's expectations for revenue and is more than double analysts
Thursday, May 7
San Clemente-based hotel owner Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. reported first-quarter revenue that fell short of Wall Street expectations but surpassed them on a measure of profitability as it cut costs to deal with the ongoing hotel downturn.
Lessons from government "stress tests" of the 19 largest banks could provide a guide to improvements in financial supervision and regulation, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday.
Retailers reported better-than-expected monthly sales figures for a second straight month in April, offering fresh evidence that consumers' willingness to spend is warming up with the spring weather.
Irvine-based heart valve maker Edwards Lifesciences Corp. said Thursday that it named William Link, a longtime OC healthcare venture capitalist, to its board of directors.
The detailed version of President Barack Obama's budget unveiled on Thursday maintains a $250 billion "placeholder" for additional financial rescue efforts should that money be needed, an administration official told Reuters.
Foothill Ranch-based Kaiser Aluminum Corp. said Thursday that it would cut back on operations at its Bellwood, Va. Plant.
Wednesday, May 6
The University of California, Irvine, said Wednesday it received a $21 million gift from the estate of M.A. Douglas, a former Orange resident.
A 37% surge in global stocks over the past two months has taken equities well out of bargain basement territory and is beginning to raise doubts about the sustainability of such a dramatic rebound.
Los Angeles-based Maguire Properties Inc. said on Wednesday it signed a big bank to a lease for its Park Place office campus in Irvine, even as it had to drop the value of a nearby tower it is looking to sell at the same complex.
The pace of private-sector job losses slowed dramatically last month, while future planned layoffs also declined, and the hard-hit housing sector showed signs of improvement last week.
Regulators have told Bank of America Corp. it needs $34 billion of capital to withstand a deep economic downturn, as the government prepares to release results of industrywide stress tests.
Anaheim-based Northgate Gonzalez Market, Orange County's largest Hispanic grocer, is having a headquarters and warehouse built in its home town, on land Delphi Automotive Systems LLC previously used as a battery plant.
Tuesday, May 5
Auto and mortgage lender GMAC LLC's loss grew by 15%, reflecting an increase in soured loans as the economy weakens.
Irvine-based Broadcom Corp. is taking its $764 million offer for Costa Mesa's Emulex Corp. directly to shareholders after Emulex directors twice rejected the bid.
Irvine device maker Masimo Corp. on Tuesday said its first-quarter profit rose 51% and beat Wall Street's expectations.
The economy will begin to turn up later this year provided the financial sector continues to mend, although unemployment will remain high for a while, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International on Tuesday posted first-quarter results that beat analysts' expectations and raised its outlook for the full year.
The services sector contracted less severely in April and was back to its October 2008 level, a report on Tuesday showed, adding evidence the world's largest economy was nearing bottom and moving closer to recovery.
Monday, May 4
EQD is trying to take a slice of the flat screen TV pie
Hotels Saw 4% Drop in Employees, Increase in Rooms
The county's business banks are hunkering down for what could be a more challenging year than '08
President Barack Obama on Monday will propose changing provisions in the tax code that he says encourage companies to move jobs overseas, as part of a broader package aimed at saving $210 billion over 10 years.
Microsemi seems to be back in Wall Street's good graces after two tough quarters, in the Technology column
Directors of Costa Mesa-based Emulex Corp. on Monday rejected a $764 million buyout bid from Broadcom Corp., setting the stage for the Irvine chipmaker to up the ante or walk away.
There's a chicken war brewing between El Pollo Loco and KFC
Local Resorts Targeting Nearby Leisure Travelers with Specials
Hewlett-Packard Co. and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. said they have formed an alliance to provide services for the BlackBerry.
Local Hotels, Visitors Bureaus, Attractions Target Regional Visitors with Discount Packages
An overview of the local healthcare sector's first quarter. Plus: Allergan Meets Expectations, Affirms Outlook; FDA Approves Botox Rival
Retail development at the Strand at Headlands in Dana Point has stopped
Broadcom emerged last week as the victor in a four-year feud with Qualcomm.
Plus Diagnostics has opened a laboratory in Laguna Hills
A look at the big money industry that is helping young volleyball players earn college scholarships
Broadcom's bid for Emulex likely will create drama for QLogic
Hotels, Resorts Marketing Meeting Space to Local Cos.
Large ground-up projects continue to be delayed in OC, in Real Estate Watch
OC Focusing on Protecting Tourists with Police, Visitor Bureau, Hotel Partnerships, Seminars
The OC Register is readying a marketing push to try to counter all the bad news about newspapers, in the Media & Marketing column
Tourism Bureaus Changing Tactics to Attract Chinese
Pending sales of existing homes rose in March for a second straight month, a private survey showed on Monday, supporting views the housing market was close to hitting a bottom.
Irvine Co. is pulling out all the stops to lease up its new apartment complex in Costa Mesa, in the Real Estate column
L.A. Hotel Renovation Driving Up Standards for Others
Regulatory approval is in the offing for St. Joseph's buy of South Coast Medical Center, in the Healthcare column
Epicor Software Corp., an Irvine-based maker of business software, gave an outlook for the current quarter that fell short of Wall Street's expectations.
Friday, May 1
Consumers felt more confident about the economy last month than at any time since the September failure of Lehman Brothers that pushed global banking to the brink of collapse, a survey showed on Friday.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group will buy Citigroup's Japanese broker and key investment banking units for $5.9 billion and look to form a financial services powerhouse through an alliance with Daiwa Securities Group.
Shares of Costa Mesa-based clothing designer Volcom Inc. were up nearly 4% near close of trading Friday as investors looked past a tepid outlook for the current quarter and latched onto the company's upbeat comments about retailers that bode well for late
MasterCard Inc. posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Friday but said revenue growth this year will fall short of its targets, sending its shares down 6% in morning trading.
Shares of Aliso Viejo's QLogic Corp. continued to slide Friday, a day after the maker of data storage electronics gave an outlook for the current quarter that falls short of Wall Street's expectations.
Allergan Inc., the Irvine-based maker of Botox and other drugs, on Friday reported a first-quarter profit that surpassed Wall Street's expectations and reaffirmed its outlook, despite slowing sales.