- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Regional

Virginia Beach police plan to drop a misdemeanor obscenity charge filed against the manager of an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store that displayed two advertising photos of scantily clad men and a woman, a city attorney said Monday. Police said they confiscated the photos from the Lynnhaven Mall store Saturday after some customers complained.

• Shares of Discovery Holding Co., part owner of Silver Spring, Md.-based cable programmer Discovery Communications, fell to a nine-month low after Credit Suisse initiated coverage of the stock with an “underperform” rating, citing a challenging advertising market. The shares dropped $1.27, or 5.4 percent, to $22.09.

AK Steel Holding Corp., an Ohio steel maker on the financial rebound, is considering the Sparrows Point steel mill near Baltimore, a United Steelworkers official told union members. ArcelorMittal SA, which must sell the plant to settle antitrust issues, failed last year to reach a deal with Esmark Inc. on the plant.

Harman International, the D.C.-based maker of audio equipment whose $8 billion buyout collapsed in September, said it will cut 500 jobs as it closes two plants in California and Indiana. The company also said net income for its second quarter ended Dec. 31 fell 43 percent to $43 million (68 cents per share) from $81 million ($1.22) a year ago.

Advisory Board Co., a D.C. management consultant, said net income for its third quarter ended Dec. 31 increased 22 percent to $7.9 million (42 cents) from $6.5 million (34 cents) a year ago.

• Fairfax government technology consultant SRA International Inc. said net income for its second quarter ending Dec. 31 fell 43 percent to 18 million (31 cents) from $31.8 million (57 cents) a year ago.

• Falls Church contractor DynCorp International received an $11.8 million, two-year extension to its AH-64 Apache maintenance-support contract with the United Arab Emirates. DynCorp has serviced the UAE’s Apaches for more than 14 years.

• Shares of Owens & Minor Inc., the Richmond medical-supplies distributor whose earnings tripled in the fourth quarter, gained the most since July. The shares climbed $2.85, or 7 percent, to $44.24.

• Time Warner Inc.’s Sterling, Va.-based AOL Internet unit acquired Buy.at, an online marketing network, to provide sales leads to advertisers and Web publishers. Buy.at, which helps drive consumers to business sites, will become a unit of AOL’s Advertising.com division. Terms were not disclosed.

National

• U.S. lawmakers said they will examine Microsoft Corp.’s proposed $44.6 billion takeover of Yahoo Inc. to determine whether the combination would hurt competition and consumer privacy. The House subcommittee that oversees consumer protection will request a confidential briefing from regulators, the committee’s leaders said.

Apple introduced higher-priced models of its IPhone mobile handset and IPod media player with double the memory of older versions, altering its lineup for the second time in six months to encourage shoppers to spend more. The IPhone will be available in a 16-gigabyte model for $499 and the IPod Touch in a $499, 32-gigabyte edition.

• News Corp.’s MySpace, the world’s most popular social-networking Web site, opens its software code to outside developers today, following the lead of rivals Facebook Inc. and Bebo Inc. MySpace is giving programmers access to member information such as friend lists, and will let them build and test applications such as games and services.

• Former Dow Jones & Co. Director David Li and three other Hong Kong residents will pay more than $24 million to settle a U.S. probe into reputed insider trading before last year’s takeover by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Li, 68, chairman of Bank of East Asia and a Hong Kong legislator, will pay an $8.1 million fine.

United Technologies‘ Hamilton Sundstrand unit, maker of the electrical systems on Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft, said it began negotiations over payment for its work on the twice-delayed jetliner. “This latest delay is going to cause some heartburn on our cash flow,” said Gregory J. Hayes, United Technologies vice president for accounting and finance.

Walt Disney Co., the second-largest U.S. media company, reported first-quarter profit that beat estimates as revenue from cable networks and theme parks increased. Net income totaled $1.25 billion (63 cents) compared with $1.7 billion (79 cents) a year earlier. Sales rose 9.1 percent to $10.45 billion.

• U.S. gasoline demand last week fell 1.6 percent from a year earlier, when pump prices were lower, MasterCard said in its weekly SpendingPulse report. Consumers purchased an average 9.18 million barrels of gasoline a day in the week ended Feb. 1, down from 9.33 million the same week last year.

General Motors Corp. said it plans to build a new heavy-duty diesel engine at its plant near Dayton, Ohio, investing $69 million and retaining more than 1,000 jobs.

Whirlpool Corp. said profit for its fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 climbed 72 percent, helped by its Maytag acquisition and an improved product mix and the weak dollar. Net income after preferred dividends totaled $187 million ($2.38) compared with $109 million ($1.37) a year earlier. For all of last year, net income rose 48 percent.

• Billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway won’t invest in MBIA or Ambac, the Fox Business Network reported. “We will not be investing in them or any other bond insurer,” Mr. Buffett said. “We’ve got our own.”

U.S. Central Federal Credit Union, the nonprofit company that invests on behalf of 8,400 local lenders, said it was hit by losses from subprime-infected debts that have eroded capital at the nation’s biggest banks. The falling value of mortgage bonds and other securities forced U.S. Central to book a $760 million fourth-quarter write-down.

International

• The head of China’s sovereign wealthfund said he will steer clear of markets such as Europe, where he feels “unwelcome.” Lou Jiwei, chairman of China Investment Corp., who is in the United States to calm fears about the fund, told the Wall Street Journal the state-controlled $200 billion fund wants to be viewed as a commercial enterprise, not a political force.

• Potential legal troubles for French bank Societe Generale expanded to the United States. Its New York branch said it was contacted Jan. 25 by federal prosecutors. The bank said it is cooperating fully, but would not elaborate on the focus of the probe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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