Beckham mania: There was an avalanche of coverage this morning - much of it fawning, some of it skeptical, almost all of it speculative. The LAT led the pack with 87 separate pieces and a reporting team of 342 (OK, I'm exaggerating a little). At least we got more financial details - specifically that the 5-year, $250 million deal that was bandied about yesterday is a pretty complicated arrangement - and relies largely on non-salary revenue. The actual salary, according to the WSJ, will be about $10 million a year. Beckham also gets 40-50 percent of team jersey sales, plus a share of ticket revenue. Endorsements will account for $20 million to $25 million a year. Beckham's current deal with Real Madrid gives him $16 million a year, but doesn't include a cut from merchandise and ticket sales.
Gas still stuck: Pump prices fell only eight-tenths of a cent in the latest Auto Club survey, which ain't much considering how the price of oil has been plummeting for the last week or two (it's up this morning). The experts are saying that a drop in oil prices doesn't have as big an impact in California because the state relies on refined gasoline that's in limited supply (yeah, sure). Anyway, the average price of a gallon of regular was $2.619 in L.A.-Long Beach, 24 cents higher than a year ago.
Apple under investigation: The WSJ, citing sources, reports that the feds are looking into a backdated stock-option grant that was awarded to CEO Steve Jobs. This is the one that was supposed to have been approved at a board meeting that never happened. The false documentation was apparently the work of an Apple attorney who was canned last month. The attorney claims that Apple's general counsel at the time instructed her do the dirty work (That person, who left the company last May, said she gave no such instruction.) The big question, of course, is whether Jobs was aware of any of this; Apple's internal investigation cleared the CEO.
Bracing for cold: Tonight and tomorrow are expected to see record lows and Ventura County agriculture officials are bracing for crop damage. We're talking mostly citrus trees, but also avocados and strawberries. They'll use fans to increase air circulation - as well as water the trees, which helps raise temperatures. Daily News Ventura County Star
Huge land sale: An L.A. investment group has purchased two adjacent cattle ranches about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara that cover nearly 25,000 acres and include nine miles of coastline. Purchase price is believed to be close to the $155 million being asked. The buyer is Coastal Resources LLC, which is controlled by investors that include Boston investment firm Baupost Group. Development is going to be a major headache - consider all the zoning and coastal restrictions - and the group says there are no plans for the property right now. WSJ Press-Telegram
Solid retail sales: Oh no, not another holiday shopping story! This one is from the government and covers December retail sales. And it shows that despite all the post-holiday moaning and groaning among retailers, sales nationwide were up 0.9 percent, which is better than the analysts were expecting. It's also the strongest showing since last July. The holiday numbers are actually a big deal because consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of total economic activity. "It appears that households had a merry holiday spending money, despite what the retailers may have been claiming," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors. AP.
House flipping fading: Homes owned for six months or less in L.A. County accounted for 3.6 percent of sales last year, compared with 4.4 percent in 2005, according to the San Juan Capistrano-based HomeSmartReports.com. Flipping activity was highest in Kern (4.7 percent) and Riverside (4.3 percent) counties last year and lowest in Napa County (1.9 percent) and in rural Sierra foothill counties (2 percent). The numbers are not surprising, given that the stupendous runup in home prices - the thing that drives flipping - ran out of steam last year. Daily News
Terry Press steps down: She had been the marketing maven for DreamWorks and before that Disney, where she hooked up with Jeffrey Katzenberg. She will be forming a marketing company, but will continue to do work for DreamWorks over the next two years. When DreamWorks was acquired by Paramount, Press was left working on just a couple of films a year for the separate and publicly held DreamWorks Animation. Variety