Business

The Buzz On Business

INSURER TARGETS POTENTIAL HOMEOWNERS WITH 'GUARANTEE': From the heart of foreclosure country, here's a novel idea to pry more of the Central Valley's would-be home buyers off the fence. Turlock insurer Grant Davis has launched a business to help home builders override one of the biggest fears of potential buyers: once it's purchased, their new home immediately starts losing value. Davis, president and owner of GDI Insurance Agency Inc., says buyers covered by his "home builder's guarantee" will be reimbursed for any loss in home value at five years from the date of purchase. For instance, if you pay $300,000 for a new home today and it's worth only $275,000 in December 2012, you'll get back your $25,000 loss. The builder pays for the guarantee, as an incentive to buyers. Davis says he's the middle man, keeping the builder's cash in trust or arranging bank financing for builders to meet the five-year guarantee. He also charges builders a handling fee. Even if the builder is bankrupt in five years, Davis says, his firm will ensure that buyers are paid if their homes lose value.

COUNTRY'S ECONOMIC WOES AFFECTING GOOGLE: Google Inc.'s fourth-quarter profit missed analyst expectations, signaling the crumbling U.S. economy has dented the Internet search leader's moneymaking machine. The Mountain View-based company said Thursday it earned $1.21 billion, or $3.79 per share, during the final three months of 2007. That's up 17 percent from net income of $1.03 billion, or $3.29 per share, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue totaled $4.83 billion, a 51 percent improvement over $3.21 billion in the previous year.

In a more important measure to investors, Google retained $3.39 billion in revenue after paying commissions to its thousands of advertising partners across the Web. The net revenue missed analyst estimates by about $60 million, or just under 2 percent. The disappointment likely will amplify concerns that Google won't be able to sell as much online advertising -- the main source of its profit -- as consumers clamp down on their spending amid ominous signs that a recession increasingly is likely in the United States.

P&G RAISES ITS OUTLOOK ON EARNINGS INCREASE: Consumer products maker Procter & Gamble Co. said Thursday its earnings rose 14 percent in its fiscal second quarter as strong sales growth and cost-cutting measures more than offset higher commodity costs. The results prompted the company -- which manufacturers products including Tide detergent, Olay skin care and Gillette shavers -- to raise its outlook for the full year. P&G also said it will separate its coffee business into an independent company. Cincinnati- based Folgers Coffee Co., which had sales of about $1.6 billion in 2007, will employ about 1,250 people at four sites in the United States.

P&G said its net income rose to $3.27 billion, or 98 cents per share, in the October-December period from $2.86 billion, or 84 cents per share, a year ago. Sales grew 9 percent to $21.58 billion from $19.73 billion a year ago.

TIVO INFRINGEMENT CLAIM UPHELD IN COURT:

A federal appeals court Thursday upheld TiVo Inc.'s claims that Dish Network Corp. infringed on one of its patents, skyrocketing TiVo's shares almost 30 percent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed with a lower court that digital video recorders distributed by Dish, formerly known as EchoStar Communications Corp., violated the software elements of TiVo's patent. The court overturned the lower court's ruling that Dish infringed on the hardware elements of the patent. But the three-judge appeals court panel said the violation of the software claims was sufficient to uphold the $74 million in damages the lower court awarded TiVo. That has increased to $94 million due to interest accruals.

BEE NEWS SERVICES

Figuratively Speaking

10: Percentage of affluent men (incomes of $150,000 or higher) who classify themselves as happy and successful, according to a Best Life magazine and Platinum Card from American Express survey.

84: Percentage of men who point to fulfilling personal relationships as one of the top factors of success.

64: Percentage of men who believe that personal accomplishment, such as having a happy family or being able to retire early, is a more significant indication of success than having a lot of power (16 percent), owning a large home (15 percent), having an impressive job title (8 percent) or spending a lot of money (4 percent).

JOHN MacINTYRE,

UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

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