Gasoline prices decline locally, nationwide during week

Gasoline prices have declined every day for a week locally and nationally, but are more than 40 percent higher than a year ago.

In Las Vegas, the price of a gallon of regular self-serve unleaded gasoline was $2.79 Friday, down from $2.793 on Thursday and $2.802 a week ago, AAA said in its Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The local price is up 3.6 percent from $2.692 a month ago and up 40.2 percent from $1.99 a year ago, AAA said.

National retail gasoline prices lost a penny overnight to a new national average of $2.727, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

AAA said the national price is up 5.5 percent from $2.584 a month ago and up 47.4 percent from $1.85 a year ago.

Gasoline prices have ridden a 10-month rally in energy commodities that doubled oil prices to nearly $80 a barrel by the end of last year.

Observers say they still expect gasoline prices to reach $3 a gallon sometime this spring, though it may take longer than originally expected.

Biotech business moves base from California to Las Vegas

A biotechnology business has pulled up its Southern California roots and moved its corporate headquarters to Las Vegas.

Cord Blood America, which preserves umbilical-cord blood stem cells, held a grand opening for its new offices Friday. Its 17,000-square-foot building, which is at 1857 Helm Drive, features a laboratory for storage of stem cell products. Company officials say it could be the nation’s largest cryogenic storage center and stem-cell lab.

Cord Blood America employs 25 people, with plans to hire as many as 50 more workers by year’s end. The company stores umbilical-cord blood from newborn babies for future use to treat cancer, leukemia and other blood and immune disorders.

The company moved its operations from Santa Monica, Calif., and Philadelphia.

Earnings fall 19 percent in quarter for General Electric

General Electric Co.’s fourth-quarter net income fell 19 percent, but the industrial bellwether is seeing signs of stability as it moves into a key rebuilding year.

GE said that orders improved late in the year in its businesses that supply equipment like turbines for power plants and sonogram machines for hospitals. Its profit decline was smaller than previous quarters even though the company’s big lending unit still weighed on earnings.

For the quarter, GE posted net income of $2.94 billion, or 28 cents per share, compared with $3.65 billion, or 35 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts expected 26 cents per share in earnings.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $41.4 billion.


McDonald’s yearly revenue slips for first time since 1984

McDonald’s dollar menu keeps gaining fans in the recession, and its profit rose last fall, but the world’s largest burger chain said Friday that its annual revenue slipped for the first time in at least a quarter century.

Falling commodity costs and currency fluctuations helped boost the company’s fourth-quarter profit, which amounted to $1.22 billion, or $1.11 per share in the three months ended Dec. 31. That’s up 23 percent from a year earlier, when McDonald’s profit amounted to $985.3 million, or 87 cents per share.

Excluding one-time items, McDonald’s earned $1.03 per share. That was a penny per share above Wall Street’s average forecast.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $5.97 billion.

For the full year, McDonald’s profit climbed 6 percent to $4.55 billion, or $4.11 per share.

And McDonald’s overall revenue slipped 3 percent to $22.74 billion — its first annual decline since at least 1984, according to figures in regulatory filings.


Harley-Davidson has first quarterly loss in 16 years

Harley-Davidson Inc. reported a fourth-quarter loss Friday, its first quarterly deficit in 16 years, as restructuring costs and the sluggish economy wore on the motorcycle maker.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson said it lost $218.7 million, or 94 per share, during the fourth quarter. That marks its first three-month loss since the fourth quarter of 1993 and contrasts with a profit of $77.8 million, or 34 cents per share, a year ago.

Its loss from continuing operations amounted to 63 cents per share.

Quarterly revenue fell 40 percent to $764.5 million from $1.28 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, whose results typically excluding one-time items, were expecting a loss of 32 cents per share on $764.4 million in revenue.


Hershey Co. concedes in race to acquire Britain’s Cadbury

The Hershey Co. on Friday conceded the race to acquire British candy maker Cadbury, opting for a slower road to international expansion but also possibly a tougher battle for shelf space in grocery stores at home.

The all-but-certain acquisition of Cadbury PLC by American food giant Kraft Foods Inc. marks the second time in two years that the most recognizable name in American chocolate must stand by while its competitors make plays for much faster growth.

The Kraft-Cadbury combination, which follows the 2008 acquisition of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. by privately held Mars Inc., also could erode Hershey’s strength in domestic distribution channels in coming years.


Google co-founders will sell 10 million shares of stock

Google Inc. co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are relinquishing some of their control over the Internet search leader with the sale of 10 million shares worth $5.5 billion at current prices.

Under a plan disclosed Friday, the longtime business partners will each sell 5 million Google shares during a five-year period that will start with the first trade.

The sales will occur periodically to lessen the chances of hurting Google’s stock price.

Page and Brin, both 36, will remain Google’s most influential shareholders, although they will be lose some of their clout.

The two entrepreneurs own a special class of Google stock that gives them combined voting power of about 59 percent — enough to override the wishes of all other shareholders if they wanted to do so. The duo secured this veto power to ensure Google remained true to their values, which are summed up in the company motto, “Don’t Be Evil.”

After the sales, the founders’ holdings will be whittled to a combined 47.7 million shares with 48 percent voting power.

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