See-saw stocks: First up by about 25 points and now down. Dow is still over 10,600.
Retailers post gain: Optimists will say that the consumer is slowly coming back - and maybe that's true - but note that January's numbers were revised sharply downward. (press release)
iPads go on sale: Apple is now accepting online orders, though the devices won't be shipped out until April. Limit of two iPads per customer for the pre-order. (PC Magazine)
Disney's new focus: The Mouse House will mostly make films that are built on brands - Muppets, superheroes, whatever - instead mid-budget productions that can't be exploited at theme parks and in videogames. From the WSJ:
Outside of certain core franchises like the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series and Pixar Animation films, Disney's films were failing. The studio had churned out a string of middle-brow comedies, such as last year's disappointing "Old Dogs." Disney Studios for two quarters last year reported its first operating losses since 2005.
Karatz trial gets going: Opening arguments in the backdating trial of the former KB CEO, with prosecutors calling him greedy and the defense calling him hardworking and unaware of any laws he might have violated. Take your pick (LAT)
More bad news for videogames: February revenues were down 15 percent from a year ago, according to NPD. That follows a 13 percent drop in January. (Tech Trader Daily)
Will Bratz maker go public?: MGA Entertainment's Isaac Larian is thinking about it, though he's not offering specifics. L.A.-based MGA is still waiting for an appeals court ruling on the company's Bratz-related spat with Mattel. (Bloomberg)
Civil service hinders layoff decisions: Under decades-old rules, seniority is the sole determinant in who stays and who goes. That could require many of L.A.'s 48,500 employees to take lower-ranking and lower-paying jobs. From the LAT:
Some city officials and business leaders fear this could force out some of L.A.'s most productive municipal employees. The potential disruptions in city services ranging from building inspections to pothole repairs are "one of the best-kept secrets in city government," said David W. Fleming, the founder of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, who argued unsuccessfully for changes to the Civil Service system when the City Charter was being revised in the late 1990s. "These rules really handcuff the city in being able to act promptly in righting the ship," Fleming said.
Workers get socked: More than half the employers surveyed said they will hold employees responsible for a bigger portion of health care costs next year. From the Washington Post:
Many say they may charge more to cover spouses, tighten eligibility standards for their health plans and dispense financial rewards or penalties based on the results of certain lab tests. At some companies, overweight employees could be excluded from the most desirable plans. Meanwhile, employees at many companies can expect significantly higher premiums, deductibles and co-payments, according to the annual survey by the National Business Group on Health, a coalition of big employers, and Towers Watson, a consulting firm that advises companies on employee benefits.
Lions Gate rejects offer: The movie studio says that Carl Icahn's unsolicited bid for a 30 percent stake "is financially inadequate and coercive." (Reuters)
Hilton CEO moves: The company has relocated back east so honcho Christopher Nassetta has sold his Bel-Air home for $18 million, about 35 percent less than the $27.5 million purchase price in 2007. Nassetta first listed the place for $29.5 million. (WSJ)