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Business briefs

For Wednesday, April 27, 2011

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services

POSTED:


Ford first-quarter net best since 1998

DEARBORN, Mich. >> Ford Motor Co. posted its best first-quarter profit in 13 years thanks to an improving economy and a lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles that reached showrooms as gasoline prices surged.

New arrivals like the Ford Explorer — which gets 20 percent better fuel economy than the old version — and the 40-mile-per-gallon Fiesta subcompact are selling well in the United States. Company profits are growing around the world. And Ford is charging more for its cars, helping offset the higher costs of steel and other materials.

The outlook for the rest of the year is also positive. Ford can likely keep its prices high because of earthquake-related shortages at rivals such as Toyota. Consumer confidence is growing, so buyers are more willing to invest in a new car. Ford predicts U.S. sales will rebound from a 30-year low of 10.4 million in 2009 to about 13 million this year.

 Ford said yesterday that net income rose 22 percent to $2.6 billion, its best first-quarter performance since 1998. It was the company’s eighth straight quarterly profit in its long climb back from near bankruptcy five years ago.

Ford’s revenue rose 18 percent to $33.1 billion.

Amazon.com’s profit tumbles

SAN FRANCISCO >> Amazon.com said yesterday that its net income fell 33 percent in the latest quarter, a steeper drop than Wall Street expected as the online retailer poured more money into expanding its operations.

While Amazon’s profit was a disappointment, its revenue topped expectations. The company’s management says that the stronger sales mean Amazon needs more warehouses and upgraded technology, which require bigger investments that cut into earnings.

The company said its net income was $201 million, or 44 cents a share, down from $299 million, or 66 cents a share, a year ago. The earnings were well short of the 61 cents a share that analysts polled by FactSet expected.

But revenue rose 38 percent to $9.86 billion, ahead of the $9.54 billion that analysts were forecasting, and up from $7.13 billion a year ago.

Facebook rolls out daily discounts

Facebook Inc. began testing a daily discount deals program yesterday in the Bay Area and four other areas nationwide, a move that instantly makes the social networking giant a formidable competitor to companies like Groupon and LivingSocial.

With Deals on Facebook, the Palo Alto firm could further tap lucrative local advertising revenues using the hot trend popularized by firms like Groupon, which offer daily deals with often deep discount prices for everything from yogurt to wine country excursions. In one measure of how hot the space has become, Google offered $6 billion last year to buy Groupon and, a month after it was rejected, began testing its own daily deals site, Google Offers.

Facebook members in the San Francisco, San Diego, Atlanta, Austin and Dallas areas began seeing a “Deals” link on the left side of their pages yesterday which brings them to a list of discounts available in their area.

Delta and US Air post losses

Delta Air Lines Inc. and US Airways Group Inc. posted big first-quarter losses yesterday.

Delta, which reported a $318 million loss, said fare increases covered 70 percent of the run-up in fuel costs for the first quarter.

US Airways Group Inc. lost $114 million in the quarter. The airline yesterday announced new reductions to its flying schedule in the second half of the year, which should cut costs and perhaps drive up fares. US Airways said it will reduce capacity by a half-percent in the third quarter and by 2 percent in the fourth quarter.

 On the Move

PBS Hawaii has announced the following new staff appointments:

>> Jared Kuroiwa as vice president of digital networking. He has a wide range of technology skills and work experience as a broadcast engineer, in community building and as a specialist in information technology management.

>> Roberta Wong Murray as vice president of programming and communications. Her experience includes being reporter/anchor for San Francisco’s KRON, co-owner of a public relations business, senior vice president of Bank of the West and Hawaii’s media specialist for the U.S. Census in 2010.

***

Aston Hotels and Resorts has announced the following appointments:

>> Deborah Chi Misajon as director of sales. Her experience includes sales management with major hotel chains worldwide, including as director of sales for the Americas and Europe for Aman­re­sorts and co-founder of Elegant Hideaways.

>> Ashley Vendiola as sales coordinator for Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. Her experience in the hospitality industry includes food and beverage, guest services, reservations and group coordination at Turtle Bay Resort and Koa Kea Hotel & Resort.





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