- - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo’s first-quarter results showed signs of modest progress under recently hired CEO Scott Thompson.

The long-struggling Internet company said Tuesday that it earned $286 million, or 23 cents per share, during the first three months of the year. That represented a 28 percent increase from net income of $223 million, or 17 cents per share, at the same time last year.

The earnings for this year’s first quarter exceeded the average estimate of 17 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue totaled $1.22 billion, an increase of less than 1 percent from the same time last year. Still, that slight uptick represented a breakthrough for Yahoo because the company’s revenue has been steadily falling for years.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s an important milestone for us,” said Tim Morse, Yahoo’s chief financial officer.

Mr. Thompson, Yahoo’s CEO since January, is trying to boost earnings by shedding $375 million in expenses. The cost-cutting move includes 2,000 layoffs, reducing Yahoo’s work force by 14 percent.

NEBRASKA

Buffett tells shareholders he has prostate cancer

OMAHA — Warren Buffett told his company’s shareholders in an open letter Tuesday that he has been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.

The 81-year-old billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said his condition is “not remotely life-threatening” or debilitating. He said he and his doctors have decided on a two-month treatment plan that is to begin in mid-July.

“I feel great as if I were in my normal excellent health,” Mr. Buffett said in the letter. “And my energy level is 100 percent. I discovered the cancer because my PSA level [an indicator my doctors had regularly checked for many years] recently jumped beyond its normal elevation and a biopsy seemed warranted.”

Mr. Buffett said he was diagnosed April 11 and has received tests including a CT scan, a bone scan and an MRI.

Mr. Buffett is known for a no-nonsense approach to investing. He is one of the world’s richest men and, in recent years, has become one of its most generous philanthropists.

Mr. Buffett’s stake in Berkshire Hathaway was worth more than $43 billion as of December.

ENGLAND

Dow Chemical puts its stamp on Olympic Stadium

LONDON — A project has begun to drape London’s Olympic Stadium in a $11.4 million decorative curtain linked to Olympic sponsor Dow Chemical Co.

The move confirmed Tuesday comes despite efforts by critics to prevent the Midland, Mich.-based company from continuing its association with the 2012 London Games. Critics have argued that the top Olympic sponsor should not be involved in the project because of its links to Union Carbide, accused in the 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India, that killed 15,000 people.

Dow bought Union Carbide 16 years after the accident.

The company’s critics, including British lawmakers, say that Dow’s purchase of Union Carbide makes it responsible for groundwater contamination and other issues that linger in Bhopal. Protests against the company have included the burning in effigy of Sebastian Coe, the head of the committee running the London Olympics.

Dow wants to use the wrap to showcase its activities at the Olympics. Dow products can be found all over the Olympics right down to the track at the stadium.

HOUSING

Requests for building permits for houses most in 3 1/2 years

Builders requested the most permits in March for single-family homes and apartments in 3 1/2 years, suggesting that many expect the housing market to improve in the next year.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that permits, a gauge of future construction, rose 4.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 747,000 in March. That’s the highest level since September 2008.

The rise in permits helped offset a slower month of construction.

Jonathan Basile, director of economics at Credit Suisse, said more permits is a “good sign for broader economic activity” and should lead to an increase in construction in the coming months.

Yet the rate of construction and the level of permit requests remain only about half the pace considered healthy. Economists say the housing market has a long way to go before it is back to full health.

From wire dispatches and staff reports