Pacific Northwest Sustainable Oils, a joint venture between Seattle-based Targeted Growth and a Houston biodiesel company, said Wednesday...

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Sustainable Oils, a joint venture between Seattle-based Targeted Growth and a Houston biodiesel company, said Wednesday it had received federal regulatory approval to use a byproduct of its camelina-seed crops in animal feedstock.

The oil-rich camelina seeds are used to produce biodiesel. Turning it into feedstock, the company said, makes it easier to adopt as a rotation crop that does not compete with food-producing grains or seeds.

“Instead it creates a food-plus-fuels scenario,” the company said in a statement.

In recent months, critics have blamed biofuels for diverting crops that would otherwise be dedicated to feeding people and animals, contributing to a dramatic increase in food prices.


Nike profit dips but sales climb

Nike said its first-quarter profit fell to $510.5 million, or $1.03 a share, from $569.7 million, or $1.12 a share, a year earlier.

But the 2007 quarter included a special item that increased earnings per share by 20 cents. If adjusted for the tax benefit, the 2008 quarterly profit would have grown 10 percent.

Revenue rose 17 percent to $5.43 billion for the Beaverton, Ore., athletic shoe and apparel company.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, had expected Nike to earn 92 cents a share on sales of $5.19 billion.

Shares of Nike, which had fallen $1.56, or 2.6 percent, to close at $59.27 in the regular session, rose $2.49, or 4.2 percent, to $61.76 in after-hours trading.

The company’s future orders, which investors were watching for an indication of holiday sales, were up.

Orders scheduled for delivery from September through January totaled $6.8 billion, 10 percent higher than for the same quarter of last year.

Nike President and CEO Mark Parker said the results reflect the “strength of our brands and our global business.”


MySpace music uses major labels

MySpace introduces a redesigned music Web site today that will sell song downloads with major record labels in a bid to regain visitors lost to Facebook.

MySpace Music users will be able to buy songs through a download service created by Seattle-based, said Amit Kapur, chief operating officer of the social-networking company.

The site will share revenue with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music, Warner Music and EMI Group, MySpace said.

The agreement includes sales from advertising, sponsorships, concert tickets and merchandise.

The site will compete with Apple’s iTunes as digital music sales are projected to increase 30 percent this year, slower than the 50 percent gain in 2007, according to researcher NPD Group.


Crude-oil prices take another dip

Oil prices ended a choppy session slightly lower Wednesday, falling below $106 a barrel as weak U.S. fuel demand and a stronger dollar outweighed concerns over a reduction in global crude output.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell 88 cents to settle at $105.73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after rising as high as $109.50. On Tuesday, the contract fell $2.76 to settle at $106.61.

Crude prices have risen about $15 in the past week as investors funnel money back into commodities on worries that a proposed $700 billion bailout of financial firms will undercut the dollar and boost inflation.


New trial granted in file-sharing case

A federal judge granted a new trial to a Minnesota woman convicted of pirating music files in the nation’s first file-sharing trial, ruling Wednesday that he made an error in the jury instructions that “substantially prejudiced” her rights.

A Duluth jury last October found Jammie Thomas guilty of copyright infringement for offering to share 24 songs on the Kazaa file-sharing network. She was ordered to pay $222,000 to six record companies.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis granted her motion for a new trial, saying Wednesday that the law requires that actual distribution be shown. In his jury instructions, he had said it didn’t.

At issue was whether the record companies had to prove anyone else actually downloaded their copyrighted songs, as Thomas’ lawyer argued, or whether it was enough to argue, as the industry did, that a defendant simply made copyrighted music available for copying.


TD Ameritrade to cover fund losses

TD Ameritrade told thousands of its customers Wednesday that it will cover up to $50 million of losses in a fallen money-market fund, while clients of a Putnam Investments fund that suddenly closed last week were told their assets will be moved to another firm.

The moves came a week after the Reserve Primary Fund’s underlying assets fell below $1 for each investor dollar put in, triggering fears that prompted the government on Friday to take emergency steps to prop up the more than $3 trillion money-market mutual-fund industry.

TD Ameritrade said it expects to take a one-time charge of 5 cents per share against its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings to aid clients whose assets the brokerage firm was holding in its Primary Fund.


Slot maker Bally settles with SEC

Bally Technologies, the second-biggest U.S. maker of slot machines, settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission over accounting practices the same day the SEC sued two of its former finance executives.

Bally agreed to comply with laws related to its reporting and record keeping, according to an SEC order. It didn’t admit wrongdoing and there were no fraud charges, the company said Wednesday.

The investigation involved financial statements from 2003 to 2005.

Also Wednesday, the SEC sued for fraud Steven M. Des Champs, 42, Bally’s former chief financial officer, and Martha W. Vlcek, 48, its former vice president of finance. The two are accused of helping Bally falsely inflate reported income.

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