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Bellevue-based truck maker Paccar continued a Yuletide tradition yesterday, declaring a $2-a-share special dividend.

This year’s payments will go out Jan. 5 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 19.

Paccar’s board also declared the next quarterly dividend of 25 cents a share, payable March 6 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 17.

At 4 percent, Paccar’s current dividend yield is among the highest in the S&P 500.

RealNetworks

Top lawyer getting $1 million bonus


RealNetworks said Tuesday it has given Robert Kimball, its top lawyer, a $1 million cash bonus for his work related to settlement of the company’s antitrust suit against Microsoft.

Kimball will also get up to $375,000 every six months through November 2008.

The company gave Dan Sheeran, a senior vice president, a $70,000 cash bonus for his work on the settlement, and plans to give him up to $130,000 next year.

RealNetworks also said its board has expanded its share-repurchase program to $100 million from $75 million.

Trade

U.S. cuts tariffs on Canadian lumber


The U.S. slashed duties on $7.6. billion of lumber imports from Canada following an internal review that found Canadian government subsidies to be less than it estimated.

The decision effectively lowers the current countervailing duty on Canadian lumber to 8.7 percent from 16.4 percent, and cuts the average anti-dumping duty to 2.1 percent from 3.8 percent, the Commerce Department said in a posting on its Web site.

This marks the second time in as many months that the U.S. has scaled back the duties it began imposing on Canadian softwood lumber in 2001. The retreat was prompted partly by a series of legal setbacks before North American Free Trade Agreement panels that ruled the U.S. showed no justification for the tariffs.

Apple Computer

NBC to sell shows on iTunes


NBC Universal has inked a deal with Apple Computer to become the second network to sell television shows à la carte on Apple’s online iTunes store, viewable on computers or the latest, video-capable iPod, the companies said Tuesday.

The programming spans from the 1950s to the present, including “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Dragnet,” USA Network’s “Monk,” the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica,” and NBC’s hit series “Law & Order.” Sketches from “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” are also for sale for $1.99 each. apiece.

Precious metals

Gold prices reach level seen in 1980s


Gold rose Tuesday for the fourth day in a row to levels not seen since the 1980s.

December gold hit $511.20 an ounce before settling at $510.20, up $1.30 from a day earlier on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The surge in gold and other precious metals has been driven largely by fund buying, as interest grows in gold as a monetary hedge.

Inamed

Allergan’s bid called superior


Cosmetic-surgery product maker Inamed said Tuesday its board has concluded a proposed $3.2 billion takeover bid from Botox maker Allergan is superior to an earlier offer it had accepted from Medicis Pharmaceutical.

But Inamed said it would remain neutral on the Allergan offer until its pending pact with Medicis is terminated.

Inamed also said Allergan had put forth a revised offer and agreement that were “materially different” than its initial offer, although Allergan’s original offer of $84 in cash or 0.8498 of a share of common Allergan stock for each Inamed share remains unchanged.

Delta Air Lines

Exec: Carrier wants to retain its pilots


Delta Air Lines wants to retain its pilots and plans to have a collective-bargaining agreement in the future with them, an executive with the bankrupt carrier said Tuesday.

“I am assuming we’re still here because we still don’t have an agreement,” Judge Prudence Carter Beatty said at the start of the eighth day of hearings on Delta’s request to do away with the pilot’s current agreement.

Delta’s chief labor-relations executive Geraldine Carolan testified “Delta is a company right now at grave financial risk. We have already reduced labor costs of all employee groups. We are asking pilots to pay their fair share.”

Beatty cautioned Delta that the term “fair” irks the pilots because they agreed to salary cuts in 2004. “They [the pilots] made a big contribution last year. They don’t believe the proposal is fair because of what they already gave.”

Delta has maintained that it needs $325 million of wage reductions from pilots as part of $3 billion in cost cuts to emerge from bankruptcy.

Kroger

Biggest sales gain recorded since ’99


Kroger, the largest U.S. grocer, said third-quarter profit rose 30 percent after the chain had its biggest sales gain in almost five years.

Net income climbed to $185.4 million, or 25 cents a share, from $142.7 million, or 19 cents, a year earlier. Sales in the period ended Nov. 5 rose 9.1 percent to $14 billion, the Cincinnati-based company said Tuesday.

The results were in line with the expectations of analysts surveyed by Thomas Financial.

Same-store sales rose 6.6 percent, the biggest gain since 1999, driven by more profitable private-label merchandise and a rebound in Southern California after a strike ended last year.

Kroger, whose chains include Ralphs, QFC and Fred Meyer, is gaining as it keeps prices closer to those of Wal-Mart and lower than prices at Albertsons and Safeway.

Sears

Stock price jumps on profit report


Sears reported another mixed quarter of skidding sales from its stores alongside improved costs and profit margins Tuesday, encouraging investors while leaving questions about its direction as a retailer.

The parent of Sears department stores and Kmart discount outlets beat Wall Street estimates with a modest $58 million third-quarter profit even as net income and sales fell from a year earlier. Its stock rose 5.4 percent in heavy trading.

But comparable sales continued to sink — 2.8 percent at Kmart stores and 10.8 percent at Sears for the quarter — and Chairman Edward Lampert acknowledged that Sears has “a long way to go.”

He reshuffled top merchandisers this week and promised improvement in Sears’ poor-selling apparel lineup by spring.

Net earnings for the three months ended Oct. 29 were $58 million, or 35 cents a share, down from $150 million, or 93 cents, for Sears and Kmart combined a year ago.

Revenue was $12.2 billion, down from $12.8 billion for the two companies in the same period a year ago.

Sears shares rose $6.26, or 5.4 percent, to close at $122.97.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, Bloomberg News, The Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires