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Friday, May 12, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

SeaMobile pays $168 million for Florida competitor

Pacific Northwest

SeaMobile, a Seattle company that provides cellular and wireless service on cruise and cargo ships, has acquired a Florida-based competitor, Maritime Telecommunications Network.

The $168 million all-cash deal, announced Thursday, will boost SeaMobile's position in the market to keep travelers and industry connected using the same devices they carry on shore.

Maritime Telecommunications Network has satellite-based broadband networks deployed on cruise ships that provide several types of media in addition to wireless communications, said Todd Wolfenbarger, a spokesman for SeaMobile. MTN produces on-ship copies of daily newspapers and controls access to television and automated teller machines.

Boeing

Airliner prices climb 4 percent

Boeing raised the average list price of its airliners by 4 percent and gave price ranges for versions of its new 787, 777 and 747 models launched last year.

Prices rose on all models, the company said in a posting on its Web site Thursday. The increases reflect a rise in costs for manufactured parts used to make planes, Boeing said.

Boeing last increased its list prices in August 2005, by an average 3.5 percent.

McCormick & Schmick's

Lawsuit charges discrimination

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants, a Portland-based company that runs more than 50 U.S. restaurants, was accused in a lawsuit of discriminating against black job candidates and employees.

The suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco says the company seeks "to present a white image to the public." The plaintiffs are a server at a restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., and a man who was denied a bartender job there.

The company denied the allegations. "McCormick & Schmick's is an equal employment opportunity employer that prohibits unlawful discrimination or harassment," the company said in a statement.

T-Mobile USA

Court ruling ends infringement case

Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA unit and Research In Motion won a U.S. appeals court ruling that ends a Luxembourg company's patent-infringement lawsuit over hardware used in the BlackBerry wireless e-mail device.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Thursday upheld a judge's interpretation of a patent owned by Inpro Licensing. Inpro conceded that, under that interpretation, the BlackBerry wasn't using Inpro's patented technology.

Research In Motion, whose BlackBerry is used by more than 4 million U.S. customers, and Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA, which marketed the devices, were accused of infringing on an Inpro patent for personal digital assistant devices that are about the size of credit cards and can be linked to computers.

Delta Air Lines

Sea of red ink rises even higher

Delta Air Lines reported Thursday a first-quarter loss of $2.1 billion, plunging the bankrupt airline deeper into red ink.

The third-largest carrier, based in Atlanta, has lost more than $14 billion since January 2001.

The results from the three months ended March 31 compared with a loss of $1.1 billion logged in the same period a year ago.

The losses include several one-time items, including a $1.4 billion charge primarily from reworking financing agreements for 124 aircraft and $310 million in accounting adjustments.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting a loss of $2.15 a share in the first quarter. The company did not provide per-share data in its balance sheet.

The airline has been operating under bankruptcy protection since September.

Softwood lumber

Pricing rules to debut earlier

A decision to speed up new pricing rules for timber in British Columbia should end fears they could derail the U.S.-Canada softwood trade deal, the province's forestry minister said Thursday.

The rules that govern what timber firms pay to log in the province's vast interior region forests will be implemented at the beginning of July rather than in September, as originally planned, Rich Coleman told a forest industry conference.

Critics of the tentative trade deal, reached last month, had warned that a provision in the agreement could give the United States power over how logging rates were set, which could punish western Canadian timber producers.

J.C. Penney

Rein on overhead drives profit ahead

J.C. Penney reported a double-digit gain in first-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations.

Penney said its profit rose 22 percent in the first quarter, as holding overhead costs below the rate of inflation helped the department-store operator supplement a modest revenue increase.

The company raised its earnings outlook for the year, though not as high as analysts expected, and it burned through some cash on hand.

Viacom

Debt cuts deep into earnings

Media conglomerate Viacom, which owns MTV, VH1 and Paramount Pictures, reported a 9 percent decline in first-quarter earnings Thursday as debt mounted to pay for an acquisition and share buybacks.

Viacom, which separated from CBS at the beginning of the year, earned $317.2 million, or 43 cents a share, in the three months ended in March versus $350.3 million, or 47 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Revenues rose 12 percent to $2.37 billion, of which 8 percent was attributable to the acquisition of DreamWorks, an entertainment company founded by the Hollywood moguls Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The per-share results beat the 39-cent estimate analysts polled by Thomson Financial had been expecting.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Reuters

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg News

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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