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In Brief

Construction company files lawsuit against PH Towers

Construction company Tutor-Saliba has filed a lawsuit against the PH Towers by Westgate to foreclose on the property in Clark County District Court.

The construction company filed a $19.3 million lien against the project to collect money for work completed, the lawsuit states.

Mark Waltrip, chief operating officer of Orlando, Fla.-based Westgate Resorts, said the company has not been served with the lawsuit but has been in negotiations with Tutor-Saliba to resolve the issue for the past three months.

Westgate intends to defend the claims, Waltrip said, and seek what he said are "millions of dollars" of Westgate’s own claims from the construction company including overcharges, credits due for unperformed work, liquidated damages for untimely performance and failure to comply with plans and specifications of the project.

The tower next to Planet Hollywood Resort is wholly owned by Westgate. Westgate has a marketing and operating agreement with Harrah’s Entertainment for the tower.

TOKYO

Cost cuts, car-sales recovery help Toyota to quarterly profit

Toyota cruised back to profit in the latest quarter as the world’s top carmaker cut costs and hitched a ride on the global auto sales recovery while fighting to salvage its reputation for quality.

But the automaker’s top executive and analysts alike said Toyota is still far from a full recovery while another potential blow to its image looms after U.S. federal authorities launched a fresh investigation into a steering recall.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday that January-March profit totaled 112 billion yen ($1.2 billion) compared with a 766 billion yen loss the year before.

Quarterly revenue jumped to 5.28 trillion yen ($57 billion) from 3.54 trillion yen a year earlier, when purchases of cars and other vehicles were slumping amid the global financial crisis.

Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid and Camry sedan, is forecasting even better results for the fiscal year through March 2011, projecting annual profit to rise 48 percent to 310 billion yen ($3.3 billion).

NEW YORK

Ivy Asset Management and former executives face lawsuit

In the late 1990s, executives at the financial advisory firm Ivy Asset Management decided something about Bernard Madoff didn’t add up, and began urging clients to back away from the man later revealed to be Wall Street’s greatest fraudster.

Those warnings weren’t loud enough, New York’s attorney general now says.

The state sued Ivy and two of its former executives Tuesday, claiming they had "disturbing" evidence years ago that Madoff was lying about his investment methods, but played down those suspicions because they feared losing millions of dollars in management fees.

Ivy’s customers, which included several union pension funds, wound up losing $227 million when the scheme collapsed, according to the lawsuit.

BEIJING

Inflation accelerates, but China may avoid interest-rate boost

China’s inflation accelerated in April and housing prices rose at a record pace, but analysts said Beijing is likely to avoid an immediate interest hike that might slow the recovery of the world’s third-largest economy.

April consumer prices rose 2.8 percent from a year earlier, below Beijing’s full-year target of 3 percent but up 0.4 percentage points from March, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. Food prices jumped 5.9 percent, up from March’s 5.2 percent rate.

China’s economic growth accelerated to 11.9 percent in the first quarter, driven by Beijing’s 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus.

Foreign companies and investors are watching Chinese inflation because any moves to cool prices might slow stimulus-fueled economic growth that surged to 11.9 percent in the first quarter. That could hurt the global recovery if it weakens demand for foreign iron ore and other imports.

SEATTLE

Microsoft to offer version of Office software free online

Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a new edition of its Office programs to businesses today , and for the first time it’s adding versions of Word and other programs that work in a Web browser and will be free for consumers.

Office 2010 marks a milestone in Microsoft’s efforts to keep up with an industry shift from programs that are stored on PCs to free ones that can be accessed from any computer, over the Internet.

Microsoft must be careful not to make the free applications so appealing as to undermine its lucrative desktop software business, which accounted for 29 percent of Microsoft’s revenue and 51 percent of its operating income in the most recent quarter.

NEW YORK

‘Alice in Wonderland’ success boosts earnings for Disney

The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday that its earnings in the latest quarter jumped 55 percent on strong box office returns for "Alice in Wonderland."

Net income for the company came to $953 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with $613 million, or 33 cents per share, from the same quarter a year earlier.

Revenue rose 6.1 percent to $8.6 billion from $8.1 billion.

The results for the fiscal second quarter beat Wall Street forecasts. Analysts expected 46 cents per share on revenue of $8.4 billion.

Disney said "Alice in Wonderland" brought in $962 million in worldwide ticket sales. That helped boost revenue at the company’s film studio by 7 percent to $1.5 billion.

NEW YORK

Electronic Arts reverses loss and surpasses Street forecast

Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. said Tuesday that strong sales of games such as "Battlefield: Bad Company 2" and "Mass Effect 2" gave the company a quarterly profit. But its outlook fell short of Wall Street’s forecast.

Electronic Arts earned $30 million, or 9 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, its fiscal fourth. A year earlier it lost $42 million, or 13 cents per share.

Revenue rose 14 percent to $979 million from $860 million.

EA’s adjusted earnings of 9 cents per share and revenue of $850 million handily surpassed Wall Street’s expectations of a profit of 5 cents per share on revenue of $835.4 million.

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