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Playboy in Play? Honda Throttles Back Jet Program; Hedge Funds to Hedge Bets After Losses; JPMorgan Will Modify Loans; Google Will Rather Fight Than Switch; Mortgage Applications Soar as Rates Fall
- The publisher of one of the world's best known adult magazines, Playboy Enterprises Inc., (PLA) said it would be open to discussions about an outright sale after posting a wider fourth-quarter loss on weaker-than-expected revenue. The company, which has been through a management shake-up including the resignation in December of longtime Chief Executive Officer Christie Hefner, posted a net loss in each quarter of 2008. A restructuring charge of $157.2 million, and other one-time costs, also hurt results, Reutersreported.
- Confronting its first quarterly loss in at least 15 years, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR: HMC) will scale back plans to make business jets and may offer voluntary retirements for the first time as it slashes costs in the United States. The worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression has cut corporate demand for jets.The company will produce 70 to 80 jets a year for delivery from the end of 2010, compared with an earlier plan to make 100 planes a year, CEO Takeo Fukui said in a Monday Bloomberg News interview.
- After record investment losses and client redemptions cut assets by 37% in the second half of 2008, many hedge funds are looking to consolidate, Bloomberg reported. As many as 40% of the 9,000 hedge funds and funds of funds may disappear in the next two years, according to Karamvir Gosal, a New York-based investment banker at Jefferies Putnam Lovell. While some will return money to investors and shut their doors, mergers and acquisitions will be more prevalent than in the past.
- JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) could modify more than the 600,000 mortgages it has already singled out for restructuring, CEO Jamie Dimon told CNBCin an interview yesterday (Wednesday). JPMorgan and other major banks have announced plans to modify loans as unemployment has risen in recent months, raising concerns that more borrowers may start to miss payments on their mortgages. Dimon's bank has agreed to renegotiate $70 billion in mortgages since October.
- Google Inc. (GOOG) wants to curb growth in the number of frivolous patent challenges it faces by fighting rather than settling lawsuits, Bloombergreported. Patent claims against Google rose to 14 last year from 11 in 2007 and three in 2006. The company is going on the offensive to fight patent claims, a strategy the Internet-search giant says will deter frivolous lawsuits. Google didn't settle any patent suits last year.
- Mortgage applications filed last week rose a seasonally adjusted 45.7% compared with the week before, reflecting a spike in refinancings as interest rates fell, the Mortgage Bankers Association said yesterday (Wednesday). Applications to refinance existing loans jumped 64.3% on a week-to-week basis, and total application volumes increased an unadjusted 5.2% from the comparable week in February 2008. The rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.99%, down from 5.19% the previous week, MarketWatch reported.