Pacific Northwest Seattle biotechnology company Cell Therapeutics said Wednesday it will shrink its staff as it gears up to market a recently...

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Pacific Northwest

Seattle biotechnology company Cell Therapeutics said Wednesday it will shrink its staff as it gears up to market a recently acquired product.

The company will add 13 jobs in sales and marketing for its new Zevalin cancer therapy, while the total U.S. work force is reduced to 133 from 151, spokesman Dan Eramian said. That means 31 other positions will be eliminated.

“We believe the best way to maximize shareholder value now is to focus our resources on our marketed and late-stage products,” said James Bianco, president and CEO. “It is with great disappointment that we must reduce head count elsewhere in order to meet these goals.”

The company expects to reduce its net operating expenses by 35 percent and projects net cash operating expenses of $77 million in 2008.

Much of the savings comes from deciding to “defer or curtail” some final clinical trials for two other drug candidates, Xyotax and pixantrone. But the company still plans to seek European approval for Xyotax in March and evaluate pivotal trial data for pixantrone.


Missed projections cause stock to fall

Kirkland-based Clearwire’s stock fell 18.6 percent in Nasdaq trading after the wireless Internet provider said subscriber gains missed some analysts’ projections.

About 46,000 users joined last quarter, Clearwire said Wednesday in a regulatory filing. That trailed the 61,000 estimate of Pali Capital’s Walter Piecyk in New York.

Revenue will rise to as much as $215 million this year, from $151 million a year earlier, Clearwire said. That trails the $323.6 million average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Customers will number 510,000 to 530,000 by the end of 2008, the company said at an investor conference Wednesday.

Clearwire shares fell $2.85 to $12.49 Wednesday, a day after soaring 23.2 percent on a report that it had restarted talks with Sprint Nextel to combine their high-speed wireless WiMax networks. Clearwire CEO Ben Wolff said at the conference that the company has made “a tremendous amount of progress” in reaching an agreement with Sprint.


China Eastern orders 30 737s

China Eastern Airlines, China’s third-largest carrier, said Wednesday it has agreed to buy 30 single-aisle Boeing 737s.

The Shanghai carrier said the order was for about $1.94 billion, based on list prices dating back to July 2005.

China Eastern said it is scheduled to take delivery of the new planes between July 2011 and November 2015.

Pope & Talbot

Shanghai company bids for three mills

A Shanghai company wants to buy three mills owned by Pope & Talbot, a longtime Portland pulp and lumber company that is selling off assets.

U.S. and Canadian bankruptcy courts have approved a bid of $225 million and other incentives from the Sinar Mas Group, which has large pulp and paper interests throughout Asia, said Mark Rossolo, a Pope & Talbot spokesman.

Other companies have until Friday to submit competing bids, and if they do, an auction will take place Feb. 5, he said.

Two of three mills Sinar Mas has bid for are in British Columbia. The third is in Halsey, Ore. It employs about 180 people producing pulp from sawdust and wood chips for use in printing and writing paper, tissue and newsprint.

Nation and World

Eastman Kodak’s 4-year overhaul costs $3.4 billion

The final cost of Eastman Kodak’s four-year overhaul is in: $3.4 billion to close aged factories and eliminate 29,000 jobs as it raced to convert the bulk of its century-old business from silver-halide film to digital photography.

Kodak said Wednesday it finished 2007 with a surge in its fourth-quarter profit, propelled chiefly by a bump in sales of digital cameras, retail kiosks and patented technology as well as a promising launch in the lucrative inkjet printer market.

Earnings climbed, but were still below analysts’ estimates. But the sales topped analysts’ consensus estimate of $3.1 billion.

Kodak shares, which had skidded to a 30-year low of $16.66 in mid-January, lost 70 cents to $19.75 in late afternoon trading.


Pension payment leads to hefty loss

UPS, the world’s largest shipping carrier, reported Wednesday that it swung to a hefty loss in the fourth quarter due to a $6.1 billion payment to shift 45,000 of its employees from one pension plan to another.

The company also said it expects financial head winds to hamper its results in the first quarter of 2008.

The results for the most recent quarter, when one-time items are excluded, met Wall Street expectations.

Even so, executives said UPS was hampered by the large spike in fuel prices in a short period of time in the fourth quarter. Usually, the company is able to pass increases in fuel prices along to customers, but executives said that wasn’t as easy to do in the fourth quarter because of how quickly fuel prices rose.

Shares rose $1.10, or 1.6 percent, to $72.02 Wednesday.


Whopping charge pulls down results

Drug giant Merck posted a $1.63 billion fourth-quarter loss Wednesday as a whopping charge for its Vioxx litigation settlement dragged down results.

The maker of allergy and asthma pill Singulair and osteoporosis treatment Fosamax said the net loss amounted to 75 cents per share, compared with a year-ago profit of 22 cents, or $473.9 million.

Merck’s fourth-quarter revenues were below analysts’ expectations and the drug maker’s shares closed Wednesday down $1.32 to $46.69.

Standard & Poor’s

$500B in mortgage downgrades eyed

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services is considering slashing its rating on more than $500 billion of investments tied to bad mortgage loans, the ratings agency said Wednesday.

The massive downgrade would threaten a broad swath of the world’s finance industry, S&P said, ranging from Wall Street’s trading desks to regional banks to local credit unions.

Ratings from agencies like S&P play a vital role in how much investments are worth. Many funds can only buy investments carrying strong ratings, and some people blame the agencies for granting top-notch credit scores to risky investments during the housing boom.


Director Gore buys 1,000 shares

Former Vice President Al Gore, an Apple director, exercised an option to buy 1,000 shares of the company for $7.48, reaping a potential profit of $124,060.

At Apple’s closing price yesterday, the shares were worth a total of $131,540. Gore disclosed the purchase in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gore, who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2000, joined Apple’s board in 2003. He led a special board committee that investigated the company’s stock-option practices in 2006. While some options were misdated, the committee found no intentional wrongdoing by Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs.

Apple rose 64 cents to $132.18 Wednesday.


Profit triples on strong sales

Lenovo Group, Asia’s second-largest maker of personal computers, reported fiscal third-quarter profit tripled on sales in the U.S., Europe and China.

Net income for the three months ended Dec. 31 rose to $171.7 million, or 1.76 cents per share, from $57.7 million, or 0.64 cent, a year earlier, the company said Wednesday. Sales climbed 15 percent to $4.6 billion. Lenovo was expected to report net income of $119.4 million.

Lenovo sold more PCs to small companies in the U.S. through Best Buy and Office Depot stores, and signed up more sales agents in Eastern Europe and India. This month, the company started selling to consumers outside Asia, joining Hewlett- Packard and Dell in tapping a market researcher IDC says may grow three times faster than the corporate segment.

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