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Originally published Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Business Digest

Getty Images stock-option probe ends in no action

Pacific Northwest Getty Images said the Securities and Exchange Commission has ended its inquiry into the company's stock-option practices...

Pacific Northwest

Getty Images

Getty Images said the Securities and Exchange Commission has ended its inquiry into the company's stock-option practices without recommending enforcement action against the company or any individuals.

Getty said it was notified the inquiry was completed by the SEC's enforcement unit Thursday.

The Seattle company, the world's largest supplier of digital images, first disclosed Nov. 9 that the SEC had begun an informal inquiry.

Getty was among dozens of companies being investigated to find out whether they inflated the value of options awarded to senior executives by backdating, or timing the grants to coincide with days when the stock price was low.

Last month, Getty agreed to be bought by private investment group Hellman & Friedman for $2.1 billion.

Nordstrom

Musical twist to new collection

Nordstrom said Tuesday it is introducing a collection of men's T-shirts, hooded sweat shirts and denim under the Clandestine Industries label in partnership with Fall Out Boy musician Pete Wentz.

Wentz worked with a Nordstrom design team to produce clothes for BP, the retailer's junior department.

"I think this relationship shows how much fashion and music are linked," merchandising President Pete Nordstrom said in a statement.

Nordstrom will sell a DVD-and-CD set with interviews and video footage of the design work for $9.95, or $5.95 with a BP purchase, on April 9.

Compiled from

Adobe Systems

Digital demand pumps up profits

Software maker Adobe Systems beat Wall Street's expectations in the first quarter with profits that rose 52 percent on continued demand for its design and Acrobat products.

For the three months ended Feb. 29, Adobe posted a profit of $219.4 million, or 38 cents per share, according to an earnings report after the close of trading Tuesday.

That was up from $143.9 million, or 24 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Adobe earned 48 cents per share in the latest quarter. On the same basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected, on average, earnings of 45 cents per share on sales of $875.8 million.

Revenue jumped 37 percent to $890.4 million from $649.4 million in the first quarter a year earlier as booming growth in digital content, from Web sites to online publishing, drove demand for Adobe's products.

Shares of Adobe, which has about 500 workers at its Seattle campus, rose $1.09 to $31.88 on Tuesday, and gained another $1.81 in after-hours trading after release of the earnings report.

Microsoft

Fast chips prompt software research

Microsoft and Intel will spend $20 million over five years to fund research into software that can take advantage of increasingly powerful computer chips.

The University of California at Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will use the funds to research programs that work on so-called multicore processors, the companies said Tuesday.

Intel is developing semiconductors that pack multiple processors onto one piece of silicon, improving their ability to do many calculations simultaneously. That means programmers need to create software that can take advantage of so-called parallel processing.

Today, only the most powerful computer servers used to maintain corporate databases and networks can run software that fully taps multiple processors. Commonly used programs such as word processors and Web browsers can only use part of those chips, limiting the capabilities of computers and mobile devices.

Nation and World

Wholesale prices

Core inflation soars in February

Wholesale prices rose again in February as another hefty increase in energy costs offset falling food prices. Outside of food and energy, prices shot up at the fastest pace in 15 months.

In another sign of troubles in housing, construction of new homes fell by a larger-than-expected 0.6 percent in February to an annual rate of 1.065 million units.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that wholesale prices were up 0.3 percent last month, following an even bigger 1 percent jump in January.

Outside of food and energy, the rise in inflation was a troubling 0.5 percent, the biggest increase for core inflation since a rise of 0.9 percent in November 2006.

Delta Air Lines

Carrier plans to cut jobs and capacity

Delta Air Lines, faced with a weak economy, dimmer hopes of a combination with Northwest Airlines and record fuel prices that are eating up profits, said Tuesday it will offer voluntary severance payouts to roughly 30,000 employees — more than half its work force — and cut U.S. capacity by an extra 5 percent.

Executives at Delta said in a memo to employees that the airline's goal is to cut 2,000 front-line, administrative and management jobs through the severance program, attrition and other initiatives.

Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton said the company would accept more job cuts, if more employees than its goal take the voluntary severance.

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

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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