Pacific Northwest Microsoft met with Yahoo to discuss the software maker's unsolicited takeover bid earlier this week, a breakthrough that...

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Microsoft met with Yahoo to discuss the software maker’s unsolicited takeover bid earlier this week, a breakthrough that could be the first step toward a friendly deal between the two rivals.

The meeting occurred Monday near Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke Friday on the condition of not being identified because the preliminary talks haven’t been formally disclosed.

No investment bankers attended Monday’s meeting, nor was there any discussion about whether Microsoft is willing to raise its offer, initially valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 a share. Yahoo’s board already has rejected that bid, arguing the company’s Internet franchise is worth more.

Although it’s unclear whether Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and his Yahoo counterpart, Jerry Yang, attended Monday’s meeting, senior managers from both companies were on hand.

Most industry analysts believe neither side wants to engage in an acrimonious battle and expect Microsoft to resolve the impasse with a slightly higher bid.

Eddie Bauer Holdings

Shares decline on 4th-quarter loss

The stock of Eddie Bauer Holdings dropped the most in two months in Nasdaq trading after the Bellevue-based outdoor-clothing maker reported a fourth-quarter net loss.

Shares fell 65 cents, or 12.2 percent, to $4.66. The stock is down 27 percent this year after falling 30 percent and 40 percent in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

The net loss in the latest quarter was $18.2 million, or 59 cents a share, on an increase in tax expenses compared with net income of $63.2 million, or $2.11, a year earlier, the company reported Thursday after the close of U.S. markets. Chief Executive Officer Neil Fiske said on a conference call that Eddie Bauer is facing a “tough” retail environment.

Zumiez

Profit, sales beat analysts’ estimates

Zumiez stock rose the most in more than a month on Friday after the Everett company reported fourth-quarter sales and profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

The stock of the specialty sports-apparel and accessories retailer advanced $1.14, or 8.1 percent, to $15.24. The shares have lost 37 percent this year.

Profit increased 10 percent to $12.4 million, or 42 cents a share, from $11.3 million, or 39 cents, the company reported Thursday after U.S. markets closed. Sales advanced 13 percent to $126.6 million.

Analysts had predicted profit of 38 cents a share and sales of $126 million.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News