CREDIT CRUNCH PUTS SQUEEZE ON BORDERS: Borders could become the latest victim of the credit squeeze, announcing Thursday that it may put itself up for sale. Rival Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, saw fourth-quarter profits drop 9 percent as the industry struggles with intense competition from discounters. Shares in Borders tumbled more than 39 percent as the nation's second-largest bookseller said it was considering options including the sale of the company or certain divisions, and that it had lined up $42.5 million in financing to help it keep running through the year. Despite its earnings slide, Barnes & Noble boosted its dividends and surprised Wall Street with predictions of a profitable first quarter. Analysts said the nation's largest book seller would be the most likely suitor for Borders. Both big bookstore chains have deepened discounts for their members, as shoppers are even more focused on low prices for discretionary items as they pay higher gas and food costs. But analyst Michael Norris at market research firm Simba Information said customers increasingly are turning to wholesale clubs and other discounters such as Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for books and other merchandise.
AT&T, VERIZON BATTLE FOR AIRWAVES AT AUCTION: The two largest cell phone companies dominated bidding in a record-setting government airwaves auction, according to results released Thursday. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless combined to account for $16 billion of the $19.6 billion bid in the auction, an analysis of the Federal Communications Commission data shows. Verizon Wireless bid $9.4 billion and AT&T $6.6 billion. The results raised concern that the auction failed to attract new competitors to the cellular telephone market to challenge the dominant companies. Google Inc. was not among the winners, meaning the search engine giant will not be entering the wireless business, at least for now. One new entrant, Frontier Wireless LLC, owned by leading satellite television company EchoStar Corp., won bids for nearly enough licenses to create a nationwide footprint, industry analysts said. Frontier bid $712 million, according to FCC data.
GIBSON SUES STORES OVER 'GUITAR HERO' GAME: Gibson Guitar Corp. on Thursday sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and five other major retailers that sell the Activision "Guitar Hero" game, claiming it violates a patent it holds. A federal lawsuit filed Monday claims Wal-Mart, Target Corp., Kmart, Amazon.com, GameStop Corp. and Toys "R" Us should stop selling the game. Gibson has tried to stop video game publisher Activision Inc. from selling all versions of the game, claiming it too closely matches a musical virtual-reality patent from 1999. The guitar company said in a released statement that it took "this action reluctantly, but is required to protect its intellectual property." Earlier this month, Activision filed suit in California asking a federal judge to declare the game does not violate the patent. Santa Monica-based Activision contends Gibson's patent assertions have no merit. Gibson has said it wants Activision to stop selling "Guitar Hero" until it gets a license under the patent.
IS 44-YEAR-OLD DENNY'S A LANDMARK OR EYESORE? There's no question the graffiti- strewn, rain-rotted, boarded-up old Denny's is a Seattle landmark in the most basic sense: People refer to it when giving directions, as in, "Turn left at the Denny's." But is the 44-year-old eyesore, with its swooping roof line, worthy of historical designation? Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board thought so, saving the eatery from demolition and blocking construction of a condo complex. The developer that bought the property for $12.5 million in 2006 cried foul.
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BCC Mikie Ballard has appealed and promises a legal assault on Seattle's landmarks ordinance, prompting a philosophical debate over whether, in a cookie-cutter world of strip malls and big-box stores, something is worth saving just because it's different.
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35: Percentage of Americans who were able to estimate correctly how interest compounds over time, according to a survey conducted by TNS in partnership with professors at Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College
50: Percentage of respondents who did not understand how minimum payments are calculated and applied to a principal balance
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