Monday morning headlines

Travel nightmare: NY airports are up and running this morning after the weekend's rain and wind storm resulted in 500 canceled flights at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark. But there are big-time delays up and down the Eastern seaboard (up to three hours at Newark this morning). Some areas had as much as 9 inches of rain, so there’s lots of flooding. Bloomberg

Mattel scores surprise: The El Segundo-based toy company reported a sharp drop in first-quarter earnings, but Wall Street had been expecting a loss so the results are being called better than expected. Earnings were 3 cents a share, compared with 8 cents a share a year ago (the year-ago quarter was boosted by a $57 million tax benefit). Hot Wheels sales rose and Barbie was in demand globally, even if the doll’s sales dipped in the United States. Reuters

Fremont to cut deal?: The Santa Monica-based company has found an unnamed buyer for its residential real estate biz (and about $2.9 billion in subprime loans). They're not talking price (though it's believed to be in the $100 million range). No matter about price or buyer - Fremont shares jumped this morning in premarket trading. Fremont has other banking operations that it's trying to hold onto. AP

More "illegal" tax returns: How does Bill O'Reilly explain away a record number of illegal immigrants sending in tax returns this year? Some of the filers hope that paying federal taxes will create a paper trail that could lead to citizenship. Others say it’s just the right thing to do. But conservative groups, once more taking the high road, claim that paying taxes just legitimizes the immigrants' illegal status. Nice. From the NYT:

In Raleigh, N.C., a tax preparer found 350 immigrants waiting outside his office at 7 a.m., including one dragging a suitcase that held $14,000 in cash for back taxes. In Baltimore, a community agency offering free tax help that was deserted the day after 69 people were rounded up in immigration raids elsewhere in the city was crowded again within 24 hours. And a help center in Queens did record business among illegal immigrants like Dionicio Quinde Lima, who has worked in construction strictly off the books since he arrived from Ecuador three years ago, but was eager to join the fold of United States taxpayers last week. “I feel it’s my responsibility to pay,” said Mr. Lima, 39, clutching a $202 money order for the Internal Revenue Service. “And if it helps me get papers, fine. The most important would be a permit to travel back and forth to see my family.”

One-way traffic study: Increase capacity on Westside roads by 20 percent? That's the conclusion of a traffic study on the effect of converting Olympic and Pico boulevards into one-way streets from downtown to Santa Monica. But don't get your hopes up - the cities of L.A., Bev Hills and Santa Monica would need to sign off on the idea and already there's grumbling by residents and businesses about the loss of parking and cut-through traffic. It’s another good idea that'll probably never happen. LAT

Clear Channel bid raised: The major shareholders haven't been thrilled about the $26 billion offer from two private equity outfits, so several sweeteners are being tossed in, including stub stock that gives Clear Channel stockholders a small piece of the action. Clear Channel has over 1,100 radio stations in the United States, including a bunch in L.A. NYT

Portfolio buzz: The new Condé Nast business magazine finally hits the newsstands after months of hype, speculation and rumor. The first issue is 332 glossy pages (185 of them ads) and includes a lengthy piece by Tom Wolfe on hedge funds and a Betsey Morris profile of the Ford family. Sheelah Kolhatkar writes about the handful of women who actually do private equity deals, and Gabriel Sherman interviews Bruce Sherman, the reclusive Florida money manager. You get the idea –New York- and money-centric. No fear confusing the new pub with Business Week of Forbes - Portfolio is really a bidness version of Vanity Fair. NYT

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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