Pacific Northwest Internet icon Yahoo reports its first-quarter earnings today, and although they only cover a three-month period, the results...

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Internet icon Yahoo reports its first-quarter earnings today, and although they only cover a three-month period, the results could determine the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company’s fate as it grapples with an unsolicited takeover offer from Microsoft.

If Yahoo bounces back to exceed analysts’ modest expectations, it could be a springboard to a higher bid from Microsoft or provide more credence to management’s argument that the company will be better off remaining independent.

But a disappointing quarter would intensify pressure on Yahoo to accept Microsoft’s cash-and stock offer, which was worth about $43 billion, or $29.96 a share, as of Monday’s trading.

A lackluster performance might even cause Microsoft to lower its bid.

Microsoft so far has insisted that its initial bid, made nearly three months ago, is fair and has threatened to initiate an attempt to oust Yahoo’s board if the 10 directors don’t accept the offer by Saturday.

Microsoft

Court says Vista suit can proceed

The class-action lawsuit against Microsoft over its Windows Vista marketing practices will go forward in U.S. District Court in Seattle after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined Monday to hear the company’s appeal.

Microsoft asked the 9th Circuit to review Judge Marsha Pechman’s certification of the case as a class action before the case proceeded through additional discovery and trial.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Jeffrey Thomas said by phone that his side is pleased with the appeals court’s decision and “we’re looking forward to proceeding with discovery.”

Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said in an e-mail, “The 9th Circuit’s decision not to accept our request for interim review is not a ruling on the merits of our case. We look forward to the ultimate dismissal of what the district court itself said is a novel claim.”

The case stems from Microsoft’s “Vista Capable” marketing program, which plaintiffs allege was misleading.

Boeing

737 customers announced

China Southern announced Sunday that it will order 20 Renton-built 737-800s for its Xiamen Airlines subsidiary.

At list prices, the order is valued at $1.5 billion. However, large discounts are typical and the actual purchase price is about $920 million, according to market estimates by aircraft-valuation firm Avitas.

Last year, Guangzhou-based China Southern ordered 80 737s, of which 25 went to Xiamen.

Separately, Boeing identified aircraft lessor Aviation Capital on Monday as the buyer of 17 737s.

The sale had been booked previously without identifying the customer.

Trubion Pharmaceuticals

Wyeth begins trial for arthritis drug

Trubion Pharmaceuticals said Monday that research partner Wyeth had launched an early stage clinical trial for SBI-087, a rheumatoid-arthritis-drug candidate.

The launch broadens Trubion’s clinical-development pipeline. The Seattle company now has two experimental compounds that seek to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, the company said in a statement. Trubion’s partnership with pharmaceutical giant Wyeth began in January 2006.

The company is also independently developing another experimental therapy to treat leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Samsung

Chairman resigns after indictment

Embattled Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee said he will step down from his post to take responsibility for a scandal rocking South Korea’s biggest conglomerate.

The announcement today comes after special prosecutors last week indicted Lee on tax evasion and other charges after an independent counsel inquiry into the conglomerate’s operations.

Samsung is South Korea’s biggest industrial group, with interests in dozens of businesses including electronics, shipbuilding and construction. Samsung Electronics is its flagship corporation.

Google

Top search engine again is top brand

Google ranked as the world’s most powerful brand for the second-straight year, as the company capitalized on its name to sell advertising globally, according to a study by a consulting firm.

Google, owner of the most popular search engine, topped the third-annual ranking from consulting company Millward Brown, which surveyed more than 1 million consumers about 50,000 brands. Two years ago, when Microsoft topped the list, Google ranked seventh.

Apple, which ranked seventh, reached the survey’s top 10 for the first time. It also was the first time that Research In Motion’s BlackBerry e-mail phone, ranked 51st, made the list at all.

Technology companies accounted for 28 of the top 100 brands in Millward Brown’s survey.

Think Global

Automaker plans electric car for U.S.

Norwegian automaker Think Global said Monday that it plans to sell low-priced electric cars to the masses, introducing its first models in the U.S. by the end of next year.

The battery-powered Think City will be able to travel up to 110 miles on a single charge, with a top speed of about 65 mph. It will be priced below $25,000.

The Think City runs on sodium batteries, but future versions could use lithium ion batteries, the company said.

Netflix

Stock falls despite jump in subscribers

Netflix’s first-quarter profit climbed 36 percent amid the largest subscriber gains in the online DVD-rental service’s 10-year history, but a tepid forecast provided by the company caused Netflix shares to plummet 14 percent in after-hours trading.

Netflix earned $13.4 million, or 21 cents per share, during the first three months of the year. That compared with net income of $9.9 million, or 14 cents per share, at the same time in 2007.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $326.2 million from $305.3 million.

Monday’s results matched the average estimate among analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, but Netflix anticipates only 60,000 to 260,000 more customers will sign up during the present quarter ending in June — typically a challenging period anyway as warmer weather beckons customers outdoors.

Netflix shares plunged $5.52 in extended trading after rising 76 cents to finish Monday’s regular session at $39.32.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press