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New Ashworth Executive Installed After Shake-Up, Employees Dismissed

Ashworth Inc., a Carlsbad maker of golf clothing, conducted a shake-up of its management team last month, giving the boot to President Gary Schneiderman, who was only on the job since September, and replacing him with Eddie Fadel, who worked at the company from 2001 to 2004.

Another top manager, Peter Holmberg, executive vice president, who headed up the company’s Green Grass and Merchandising unit, resigned to return to his home in Seattle, where the grass is definitely greener than San Diego.

In addition, Ashworth said it cut 16 positions. The company had total employment of 625, according to Yahoo Finance. The cuts were implemented “to better align its cost structure with its core business strategy,” according to a press statement.

Ashworth Chief Executive Officer Peter Weil said the decision to reduce his company’s work force was difficult but necessary, and that affected employees would receive severance and other benefits. No estimates were given on what that would cost.

Weil, 55, a former senior vice president with PricewaterhouseCoopers in the retail consulting unit, took over as CEO in October after the sudden departure of longtime CEO Randal Herrel. Weil was one of two directors who took seats on Ashworth’s board of directors a year ago after a nasty proxy battle with the Knightsbridge Group, a New York hedge fund, which was unhappy with the way the company was being run.

Knightsbridge owned 7 percent of Ashworth’s stock, and forced the changes that prompted last fall’s shake-up, and likely led to the most recent changes.

Fadel, 51, recently served as vice president of merchandising at Greg Norman/Reebok, and has more than 30 years’ experience in the apparel industry, including 20 in the golf industry.

Ashworth’s upheaval may be what the doctor ordered, or could further compound the company’s disappointing financial results.

For the first quarter, Ashworth lost $2.5 million on revenue of $38.3 million, compared with a net loss of $50,000 on revenue of $40.6 million for the first quarter of 2006.

For the full fiscal year ended Oct. 31, Ashworth reported net income of $951,000 on revenue of $209.6 million.

That compared with a net loss of $727,000 on revenue of $204.8 million for the 2005 fiscal year.

San Diego County’s two other large public golf firms, Aldila Inc. and Callaway Golf Co., are faring much better at least in terms of operating profits.

Aldila, based in Poway and a maker of golf shafts, reported net income of $2.7 million on sales of $20.7 million for its first quarter. That compared with net income of $4.3 million on sales of $20.8 million for the like quarter of 2006.

Callaway, which makes clubs, balls and accessories and is based in Carlsbad, reported first-quarter net income of $32.8 million, up 44 percent from the like period of 2006. Revenue for the past quarter was $334.6 million, compared with $302.4 million in the prior year’s first quarter.

As of May 29, Ashworth shares, traded under ASHW on Nasdaq, were at $8.39, and ranged from $6.17 to $9.95 in the past 52 weeks.

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CKE Sues JBX Over Ads:

Jack in the Box has long had a history of humorous TV ads extolling its burgers, but a recent commercial promoting its sirloin hamburgers prompted competitor CKE Restaurants to file suit, claiming the ads are misleading.

The suit, which seeks both a halt to the ads and corrective advertising, said Jack’s ads imply the meat of Carl’s Jr.’s Angus beef burgers comes from “the rear end and/or anus of beef cattle by creating phonetic and aural confusion between the words Angus and anus,” according to the civil suit filed in federal court in Santa Ana. CKE is based in Carpinteria.

The spots show bubble-headed Jack holding a meeting discussing his sirloin burgers and a diagram of a cow pointing to where the sirloin beef comes from, below the cow’s ribs. After a colleague asks Jack to point where the Angus area of the cow is, Jack says, “I’d rather not.”

The suit calls the ads misleading because of an apples to oranges comparison, since sirloin is a cut of beef and Angus a breed of cow.

CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company to both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, as well as Burger King and McDonald’s, serves burgers made with Angus beef, selling at premium prices. Jack in the Box recently launched a sirloin burger.

In a statement released by Jack in the Box Inc., the company said the lawsuit is completely without merit. “With all the important cases facing the federal court system, it’s a shame to waste time and resources on such a trivial matter,” said spokeswoman Kathleen Anthony.

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Inverness Sets Timetable For Acquisition:

Inverness Medical Innovations Inc., a Waltham, Mass., medical device manufacturer, officially made its tender offer for all outstanding shares of Biosite Inc. at $92.50 per share in cash May 29. The company was the winner in a high-stakes bidding contest for Biosite last month over rival device maker Beckman Coulter Inc. of Fullerton, which originally offered $85 per share for Biosite in March.

After Inverness made a counteroffer for Biosite of $90 per share, Beckman Coulter at first matched the higher offer. Then it dropped out after Inverness raised its final bid to $92.50.

The tender offer expires midnight June 25, but can be extended. Biosite’s board has already unanimously approved the transaction, and recommended shareholders accept Inverness’ offer. Following acceptance for payment of shares and completion of the transactions detailed in the agreement, Biosite will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Inverness.

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Ticker Takes:

ViaSat Inc. said it expanded an existing contract with WildBlue Communications that could be worth more than $200 million in the next three to five years. Titan Energy Worldwide Inc. reported a net loss of $713,000 for the first quarter compared with a net loss of $62,000 for the like period of last year. The firm also hired James Fahrner as its chief financial officer and vice president of administration. ITLA

Capital Corp. set its annual share & #173;holders meeting for Aug. 1 at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort. Who’s Your Daddy Inc. reported a net loss of $1 million on net revenue of $150,000 for the first quarter, compared with a net loss of $926,000 on revenue of $216,000 for the like period in 2006.


Send any news of locally based public companies to Mike Allen via e-mail at

mallen@sdbj.com

. He can be reached at (858) 277-6359.

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