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Week in Review



Quote of the Week

‘We have proof of principle that you can put the cells in the crown mold and create a structure that is shaped like a tooth.’

, Pamela Gehron Robey, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, on stem cell research benefiting dentistry. Please see story under the News & Analysis banner.


Friday, May 20


Unemployment Drops:

San Diego’s unemployment rate dipped to 4 percent in April from 4.3 percent in March, below the rates reported for California, at 5.2 percent, and the nation, at 4.9 percent, for the same period, the state Employment Development Department announced.

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The segment showing the strongest growth in April was leisure and hospitality, which had a net gain of 2,600 jobs. Construction added 800 jobs, the third straight month that industry segment has reported net job increases.

On the negative side, the biggest segment showing net job losses was professional and business services, which declined by 1,300 jobs. The bulk of the losses were reported by firms in professional, scientific and technical services, and in administrative and support positions, including temporary help firms, the EDD report stated.

During the prior 12 months from April, the region added a net of about 15,200 new non-farm jobs. The biggest segment, by far, of this total came from the construction industry, which added 4,500 net jobs over the prior year. The majority of those construction jobs were generated by heavy and civil engineering contractors and specialty trade contractors.

Other segments showing significant gains during the prior 12 months were leisure and hospitality, up 3,100 jobs, and government, up 2,800 jobs.

Manufacturing was the only segment to record a year over year loss of 600 jobs, with most of those involved with the manufacture of nondurable goods.

, Mike Allen

– – –


Biotech Names CFO:

Stratagene Corp., a San Diego-based diagnostic company, announced Steve Martin as its new chief financial officer.

Martin will replace Reg Jones effective July 1.

Jones is retiring after a 24-year career with Stratagene and Hycor Biomedical Inc., which was acquired by Stratagene in June.

Jones agreed to stay on as an adviser, according to a company release.

Martin joined Stratagene a year ago as director of finance and was being groomed to succeed Jones.

“We viewed him as a potential future CFO of our company,” said Dr. Joseph Sorge, the president and chief executive officer of Stratagene.

Sorge praised Jones for his “enormous contributions” and “commitment” to the company. He said he’s looking forward to working with Martin, whose responsibilities will include strengthening internal controls and hiring and training staff to meet the reporting requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company trades on Nasdaq as STGN.

Martin is a certified public accountant with more than 20 years’ experience.

, Marion Webb


Saturday, May 21


Making A Splash:

Amid much fanfare, National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. sent the 689-foot USNS Lewis and Clark sliding down the ways into San Diego Bay. (Ways is a nautical term meaning the inclined surface on which ships are built.)

The vessel is the first of a new class of military cargo ships designed to hold 7,000 metric tons of dry cargo, plus cargoes of fuel and water. Work will continue at the ship’s mooring; delivery is set for next year. In all, Nassco is building eight dry cargo/ammunition ships under a $2.5 billion order. The Navy has an option to order four more.

, Brad Graves


Monday, May 23


Endorsement Retracted:

The San Diego city attorney’s office announced an Encinitas orthopedic surgeon must pay at least $75,000 in civil penalties and make a public retraction of his endorsement of a device called the AbEnergizer.

The civil case, brought in Napa County Superior Court by the district attorneys of Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties, along with the San Diego city attorney’s office, alleged that Dr. Michael J. Skyhar’s endorsement of the AbEnergizer was deceptive. According to the city attorney’s office, Skyhar appeared on an infomercial promoting the device.

The district and city attorneys’ offices said the AbEnergizer, a beltlike device that sends electrical current into a wearer’s body, is a misbranded and unapproved medical device. The infomercial claimed the AbEnergizer could be used as a substitute for exercise to tone stomach muscles.

, Brad Graves


Tuesday, May 24


Top Of The List:

Two San Diego-based companies, Biosite Inc. and Websense Inc., were ranked seventh and 10th, respectively, on a list of the fastest-growing technology companies compiled by Business 2.0 magazine.

The list, called the B2 100, contained in the high-tech magazine’s June issue, features 100 fast-growing technology companies culled from a group of 2,000 publicly traded firms. To make the final list, companies had to have at least three years of trading on a major stock exchange, at least $50 million in annual revenues, and positive cash flow during the most recently reported fiscal year.

The ranking was based on a combination of four factors: revenue growth, profit, operating cash flow during the last three years, and 12-month stock return.

California companies dominate the B2 100 with 32 on the list. The next highest number is based in Massachusetts with 11.

Biosite, a maker of a test to detect congestive heart failure, has seen its product used by half the hospitals in the nation, and annual sales growth of 44 percent.

Websense is a maker of software that filters Internet sites deemed as not having relevancy to the workplace, such as those for gambling or pornography.

, Mike Allen

– – –


Layoffs At SAIC:

Science Applications International Corp., a San Diego-based research and engineering firm, said that it cut about 100 positions from its security and transportation technology business unit at offices in Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.

The company said lower than anticipated sales in the unit required eliminating the positions. Laid-off workers were given access to counseling and outplacement services, and it was expected that some would be able to transfer to another part of the company.

The business unit makes a device called Vacis, which uses gamma rays to inspect shipping containers, rail cars and other closed containers. The business unit also makes equipment for ultrasonic and eddy current inspections.

SAIC is the largest employee-owned research firm in the nation, with nearly 43,000 workers worldwide. In San Diego, the company has 4,896 employees, up by 210 from the same period of 2004, and an increase of more than 800 since 2003, according to the company.

In the last 12 months, SAIC said it has hired 210 employees in the county, and it currently has 233 job openings in San Diego.

, Mike Allen


Wednesday, May 25


Petco Trims Forecast:

Petco Animal Supplies, Inc., the San Diego-based pet supplies retailer, reported net income of $17.2 million on revenues of $479.6 million for the first quarter, compared with a net profit of $15.8 million on revenues of $425.9 million for the like period of 2004.

The company reduced previous estimates on full-year net profits to a range between $1.66 to $1.72 per share. Previous guidance had been between $1.80 to $1.81 per share.

Petco attributed the reduced earnings forecast to a sluggish economy, and higher than expected costs associated with an external review of its operations, and changes to its marketing.

Shares of Petco, traded on Nasdaq, fell more than 7 percent following the announcement to $29.96. The stock had been trading between $27.20 and $39.91 for the previous 52 weeks.

Petco said same-store sales rose 5.2 percent during the quarter, and that operating income increased 12 percent to $34.6 million.

The company added 25 new stores during the quarter, net of store relocations and closings, that increased its total stores to 741. In 2005, Petco said it plans to open about 70 more stores, net of those stores that are relocated and closed. It is also undergoing an extensive remodeling program that is expected at 50 stores.

, Mike Allen


Thursday, May 26


USD Index Drops:

San Diego’s economy continued to trend downward, based on the latest results of the University of San Diego Index of Leading Economic Indicators, which fell for the fourth consecutive month in April.

The index consists of five measurements of the local economy, plus the index of leading economic indicators for the nation.

In April, the index decreased 0.5 percent, following declines in the prior three months of 0.4 percent, 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent.

Alan Gin, the economics professor who compiles the index, said the recent results do not necessarily mean the economy will shrink for the year, but may signal a weakening during the second half of the year.

Of the six components of the index, only one, help wanted advertising linage, showed a rise. The remaining five elements , building permits, unemployment claims, stock prices, consumer confidence, and the national index , all registered declines.

Gin said that local job growth would remain positive, although he anticipated the unemployment rate to rise by year-end. As of April, it was 4 percent, down from 4.3 percent in March.

, Mike Allen

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