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Tickers: Dec. 16


Toyota Motor Corp. will indefinitely delay plans to start production at its $1.3 billion Blue Springs, Miss., plant given a slowdown in consumer demand, the Associated Press reported. The plant was scheduled to begin production of Toyota’s hybrid Prius in 2010, but the company will delay installing equipment and machinery.

Mattel Inc. and its subsidiary Fisher-Price Inc. have agreed to pay $12 million to 39 states as a settlement over concerns about lead paint in its toys manufactured after Nov. 30 of this year. It also has agreed to phase in stricter standards for lead in surface coatings and substrates faster than the timeline set by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Iowa will receive $213,948 in the settlement. Mattel and Fisher-Price voluntarily recalled more than 2 million toys from August to November last year for excessive lead levels in surface paints from toys manufactured in China.

Casey’s General Stores Inc. reported a 0.8 percent increase in same-store gasoline gallons sold in November, compared with November 2007, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The average retail price of gasoline sold last month was $1.86 per gallon. Same-store sales of grocery and other merchandise rose 5.9 percent and prepared food and fountain sales jumped 7.8 percent. In other company news, Casey’s was part of a Halloween promotion with several retailers that raised half of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s 2008 fund-raising goal of $5 million. The money will be used in the hospital’s fight against childhood cancer.

Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell Collins Inc.’s board of directors has elected David Lilley as its ninth member. He will fill a position subject to re-election at the annual shareholders meeting in 2011. Lilley will retire as chairman and CEO of Cytec Industries Inc., a specialty chemicals and materials company, at the end of this year and serve as a non-executive director of the company until April 2009. “His experience leading an innovative enterprise that has introduced leading-edge technology in coatings and composite materials for aerospace and other applications will provide a valuable perspective to our board,” said Rockwell Chairman, President and CEO Clay Jones, in a release.

Davenport-based newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises Inc. will delay filing its annual report until Dec. 29 due to the need to calculate further write-downs on the value of its goodwill and intangible assets and seek waivers from lenders on issues that could lead to a default on its debt, the Associated Press reported. On Friday, KPMG, Lee’s independent accounting firm, told the company that if Lee could not provide further evidence that it could meet its debt obligations, it would need to include a paragraph in its annual report about Lee’s ability “to continue as a going concern.” The addition of the paragraph would lead to a default under Lee’s recently amended bank credit agreement unless that condition was waived by lenders. Lee is working to obtain the necessary waivers to continue. In its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Lee reported a 73 percent decline in net income to $5.4 million, or 12 cents per share, from $20 million, or 44 cents per share, a year earlier.

The Iowa Main Street Alliance will publicly announce its formation today as a voice for small business owners who are seeking comprehensive state and national health-care reform. The alliance has attracted 350 small business members in three months. The kickoff event was scheduled at 11 a.m. at Hiland Park Hardware, 3613 Sixth Ave., Des Moines.

Yesterday, Iowa child policy organizations joined other major national child policy and advocacy organizations to launch the “Invest in Children, Strengthen America” campaign. The new coalition, called The Children’s Leadership Council, is calling for more than $50 billion in additional investments to ensure that children are healthy and safe, achieve educational success and contribute to America’s growth, as well as provisions in the economic stimulus package that will mitigate the effects of the recession on children. Iowa’s launch yesterday is one of 13 events happening throughout the week, with a national rollout in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

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