Pacific Northwest Washington Mutual stock fell to the lowest in 12 years after Merrill Lynch said the biggest U.S. savings and loan may...

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Washington Mutual stock fell to the lowest in 12 years after Merrill Lynch said the biggest U.S. savings and loan may report $11.2 billion in losses through next year as more borrowers default on home loans.

Washington Mutual slid $1.05, or 8.9 percent, to $10.71, its lowest since August 1995. Washington Mutual has fallen 74 percent over the past year, compared with a 32 percent decline in a gauge of financial stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported that the bank has approached leveraged-buyout firms and sovereign wealth funds about supplying capital to help stabilize its finances. It cited people familiar with the matter.

Microsoft

Company seeks to challenge order

Microsoft is trying to overturn a federal judge’s order creating a nationwide class-action lawsuit that claims the company misled consumers about what computers can run its most advanced Vista operating system.

The company Friday filed papers seeking to challenge a Seattle federal judge’s order recognizing a class of consumers who bought a personal computer certified by Microsoft as “Windows Vista capable” without indicating whether the machines could run the premium version of the software, its attorneys said.

“Continued proceedings here would cost Microsoft a substantial sum of money for discovery and divert key personnel from full-time tasks,” said attorney Charles Wright, “all with respect to claims that might not proceed on a class basis at all.”

Amazon.com

Audible told offer is too low

Audible shareholder Red Oak Partners said Amazon.com’s $300 million offer to buy the company is too low and asked that a study determining its value be made public.

Audible’s board “ignored important factors,” including price estimates that didn’t consider the dilutive effect of a 6 million-share offering, in recommending the deal, Red Oak said Friday. Red Oak owns a 1.4 percent stake in the Newark, N.J., company. Audible sells audio versions of books, magazines and newspapers from its Web site.

Internet retailer Amazon agreed Jan. 1 to buy the company for $11.50 a share, a 23 percent premium.

Red Oak doesn’t plan to accept Seattle-based Amazon’s offer, portfolio manager David Sandberg wrote in the letter to Audible Chief Executive Officer Donald Katz, which was included in the statement. Sandberg said the firm may take part in stockholder litigation that has been filed.

Compiled from Bloomberg News