Among other items: Student loan giant Sallie Mae is laying off 42 of the 125 people who work for Seattle-based Student Loan Finance Association; Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, Brazil's No. 3 airline, has increased the number of options to buy Boeing jets; and Sprint said yesterday that fourth-quarter profit almost quadrupled.

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Pacific Northwest

Cingular Wireless said yesterday it is laying off up to 160 more employees in Washington state after its acquisition last year of AT&T Wireless.

The layoff is the third round of cuts the nation’s largest wireless carrier has made as it tries to reduce the combined work force of 68,000 employees by 10 percent.

In the two previous rounds, Cingular said it was cutting 243 jobs from AT&T Wireless’ former headquarters in Redmond, as well as its Bothell and Seattle offices. AT&T Wireless had about 31,000 employees in the United States and about 5,700 in Washington.

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Sallie Mae student loan agency lets 42 workers go

Student loan giant Sallie Mae is laying off 42 of the 125 people who work for Seattle-based Student Loan Finance Association (SLFA), which it acquired in November. Another 30-some layoffs could follow in the coming months.

SLFA and the affiliated Northwest Education Loan Association market and guarantee student loans in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

First HouseValues report post-IPO shows profit tripled

Bellevue-based HouseValues, which provides marketing services to the real-estate industry, reported financial results yesterday for the first time since going public in December.

In the fourth quarter, HouseValues’ profit tripled to $1.9 million, or 8 cents a share, from $614,000, or 3 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 112 percent to $14.4 million from $6.8 million a year ago. For the full year, the company posted a profit of $7.5 million, or 34 cents a share, on revenue of $47.7 million.

Hollywood Entertainment CEO resigns amid takeover battle

As a bidding war raged yesterday for Hollywood Entertainment, the founder and CEO of the nation’s No. 2 movie-rental chain abruptly resigned.

Hollywood Chairman and CEO Mark Wattles had agreed last summer to take the company private with the help of Los Angeles buyout firm Leonard Green & Partners. But the Hollywood board responded to shareholder pressure to take other bids.

Wattles did not comment on his departure. President F. Bruce Giesbrecht will replace Wattles as CEO.

Wilsonville, Ore.-based Hollywood is the target of a takeover fight between Texas-based Blockbuster, the largest movie-rental chain in the nation, and No. 3 Movie Gallery, based in Dothan, Ala.

Brazilian airline boosts options for Boeing jets

Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes, Brazil’s No. 3 airline, increased the number of options to buy Boeing jets as the carrier seeks to expand service in Brazil and South America.

Gol boosted options to buy Boeing 737-800 next-generation aircraft by 20 units, the São Paulo-based carrier said in a statement. Last year, Gol placed firm orders for 21 Boeing 737s, with deliveries to begin in 2006. The carrier also last year acquired options to buy another 22 Boeing aircraft.

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US Airways cancels part of Airbus order

A U.S. bankruptcy judge approved an agreement that allows US Airways Group, which is trying to complete its second reorganization in two years, to cancel the purchase of 35 Airbus planes and delay delivery of 30 more.

Under the accord approved yesterday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Stephen Mitchell, US Airways can cancel orders made in the late 1990s for 35 planes. It also allows Airbus to delay for one year delivery of about 30 A319 and A320 planes.

Under the Airbus accord, US Airways gets about $6 million back from down payments on the planes. US Airways will pay about $9 million it owes Toulouse, France-based Airbus as part of the agreement, the airline said in court papers.

US Airways’ business plan calls for increased use of smaller, regional jets instead of larger planes built by Airbus and Boeing.

Fourth-quarter Sprint profit nearly quadruples

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Sprint said yesterday that fourth-quarter profit almost quadrupled on a record quarterly increase in wireless customers.

The company posted fourth-quarter net earnings of $437 million, or 29 cents a share, up from $110 million, or 7 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Sprint’s shares rose 12 cents to close at $24.60 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares lost 5 cents, to $24.55, in after-hours trading.

Sprint’s revenue for the quarter increased 4 percent to $6.93 billion as the company said it added a record 1.58 million wireless customers. That brought its total wireless customers at the end of 2004 to 24.8 million, up 22 percent for the year.

Comcast earnings beat analysts’ forecasts

Comcast, the nation’s biggest cable TV system operator, said yesterday its profit rose 10.4 percent in the fourth quarter, beating Wall Street estimates.

Philadelphia-based Comcast reported net earnings of $423 million, or 19 cents per share, for the quarter ending Dec. 31. That compares with $383 million, or 17 cents per share, in the final three months of 2003.

Comcast beat the 11 cents a share consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Move to Nasdaq will end an “S” era for Sears

After 95 years of being listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Sears will be moving this year to the Nasdaq Stock Market and leaving its unique “S” stock symbol behind. That’s because of the pending merger between Sears and Nasdaq-listed Kmart. Nasdaq requires a four-letter ticker symbol.

The deal is expected to be completed in March, Kmart said. The new symbol has not yet been announced. Kmart has been trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker KMRT.

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