Bargain hunters boost home sales
Home sales surged 22 percent in April in Southern California as bargain hunters bought lower-end homes in areas hardest hit by foreclosures, a research firm said Monday. Sales of new and resale homes and condos reached 15,615 in April, up from 12,808 in March and the highest monthly total since August, according to DataQuick Information Systems. Homes at less than $500,000 accounted for two-thirds of the monthly gain, DataQuick said. April's median home price in Southern California was $385,000, down 24 percent from $505,000 in April 2007. Despite the sales surge since March, April sales were down 19 percent from 19,269 in the same period last year, marking the weakest April tally since 1995, DataQuick said.
Desperate to deal?
Just two weeks after breaking off merger talks, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. have been pulled back to the bargaining table by their fears about what might happen if they don't work out a deal. For now, Microsoft and Yahoo are dancing around the edges as they explore possible business arrangements without melding the two companies. Most analysts remain convinced the preliminary talks will culminate in Microsoft buying Yahoo for $33 to $37 per share, translating to $47.5 billion to $53 billion. If Yahoo doesn't stop demanding $37 per share, its board could be overthrown in a shareholder mutiny led by activist investor Carl Icahn. Meanwhile, Microsoft's unwillingness to pay more than $33 per share created an opportunity for its nemesis, Google Inc., to enter an advertising partnership with Yahoo.
Lowe's earnings fall
Lowe's Cos., the nation's second-biggest home improvement retailer, reported a 17.9 percent drop in first-quarter earnings and lowered its guidance for the year Monday as the slumping U.S. housing market and softer economy hurt sales. Lowe's said it earned $607 million, or 41 cents per share, in the three months ended May 2. Revenue slipped to $12 billion from $12.2 billion a year ago.
Small-business owners need to show concern but be direct when laying off workers, Small Talk columnist Joyce M. Rosenberg recommends.