Executive says Echelon mall will be delayed

Chicago-based General Growth Properties said Thursday it was delaying plans for several shopping malls, including the retail component, High Street, at the $4.8 billion Echelon project being developed by Boyd Gaming Corp. on the Strip.

General Growth is the second-largest U.S. owner of shopping malls. In Las Vegas, the company owns the 2 million-square-foot Fashion Show mall on the Strip, the 500,000-square-foot Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and the 300,000-square-foot retail space at the Palazzo.

A retail analyst for JP Morgan said General Growth was slowing development of the $255 million, 300,000-square-foot retail space at Echelon, which will encompass 5,000 hotel rooms and is expected to open in 2010.

“We are simply moving back the opening dates,” Chief Executive Officer John Bucksbaum said in a conference call Thursday with analysts and investors. “Now is not the best time to be opening new projects.”

Boyd Gaming will release earnings today and is expected to discuss developments involving Echelon.


Motorola surprises with modest profit

In a sign that it may be finally turning its fortunes around, Motorola surprised investors Thursday by reporting a small profit for the second quarter and revealing it had shipped more cell phones than in the first quarter. Its shares soared.

The unexpected profit was the result of a sales increase across all units from the first quarter, helped by cost cuts. The company has laid off more than 10,000 workers since last year.

The Schaumburg, Ill.-based company earned $4 million, less than 1 cent per share, in the three months ended June 30. That includes accounting charges of 2 cents per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had been expecting a loss of 3 cents per share.

In the same quarter a year ago, Motorola lost $28 million, or 2 cents per share.

Its sales fell 7.4 percent to $8.1 billion, but that exceeded the $7.7 billion that analysts were predicting.

Motorola shares rose 96 cents, or 12.5 percent, to close at $8.64 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Wyndham sees some ‘weakness’ in LV

Wyndham Worldwide Corp., the franchiser of Ramada and Super 8 hotels, said second-quarter profit rose 2.1 percent on international hotel earnings, timeshare rentals and currency gains.

Net income advanced to $98 million, or 55 cents a share, from $96 million, or 52 cents, a year earlier, the Parsippany, N.J.-based company said. Revenue rose to $1.13 billion from $1.1 billion. Profit excluding some items beat analysts’ estimates by 6 cents, sending the shares up in New York trading.

Timeshare sales rose 2 percent to $532 million, and consumer-finance revenue climbed 18 percent to $104 million.

Wyndham noted “some weakness” in Hawaii and Las Vegas, Chief Financial Officer Virginia Wilson said Thursday on a conference call with investors and analysts. Wyndham has increased its loan loss provisions, expecting more struggling consumers, she said.

Station delays release of earnings report

Station Casinos delayed the release of the company’s second-quarter earnings, which had been scheduled for Thursday, to allow auditors sufficient time to finalize their review of the financial statements.

The privately held casino operator, which has publicly traded debt, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that quarterly results would be released no later than Aug. 11.


Oil falls $2.69 a barrel, wiping out some gains

Oil prices pulled back Thursday, wiping out some gains from the previous day’s $4-a-barrel rally, as traders bet that a cooling U.S. economy will continue to eat into U.S. demand for fuel. At the pump, easing prices underscored Americans’ waning consumption of gasoline.

The average price of a gallon of regular slipped 1.7 cents to $3.909, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell $2.69 to settle at $124.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Treasury prices rise on growth report

Treasury prices advanced Thursday after government reports stirred concerns that the economy in the United States is growing slower than expected, driving investors to seek safety in government debt.

In late trading, the 10-year Treasury note rose 0.78 points to 99.38 points.

Its yield fell to 3.95 percent from 4.05 percent Wednesday, according to BGCantor Market Data. Yields move in the opposite direction from prices.

The 30-year long bond rose 1.06 points to 96.75 points. Its yield fell to 4.58 percent from 4.65 percent Wednesday.

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