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Tickers: March 17


Sauer-Danfoss Inc. reported a 25 percent decline in net sales for the fourth quarter and a net loss of $100.6 million, or $2.09 per share, compared with net income of $8.7 million, or 18 cents per share, in the year-ago period. The company recorded a one-time expense for restructuring and severance costs of $24.9 million, or 37 cents per share, in the quarter. For the entire year, net sales were $2.1 billion, up 6 percent, but pending completion of an ongoing impairment analysis, the company’s net loss totaled $39.1 million, compared with net income of $47.2 million in 2007. Sauer-Danfoss is in the process of taking actions to reduce its expenses and conserve cash, including cutting its work force by 23 percent since mid-2008, reducing senior leadership salaries by 10 to 15 percent for the year and suspending its quarterly cash dividend. The manufacturer of machinery components has major plant operations in Ames.

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will temporarily raise guarantees to as much as 90 percent on its 7(a) loan program and will temporarily eliminate fees for borrowers on those loans and for borrowers and lenders on 504 certified development company loans through the end of the year or until funds are exhausted. The fee waiver is retroactive to Feb. 17. President Barack Obama also announced yesterday that the Treasury Department will commit up to $15 billion to help unlock the frozen credit markets by purchasing small business loan securities currently frozen on the secondary market.

Iowa Health – Des Moines has named Eric Lothe administrator at Iowa Lutheran Hospital. Lothe will oversee the hospital’s daily operations. He previously was president and CEO of Health Enterprises of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

Wholesale costs rose 0.1 percent last month as the cost of energy products, cigarettes, light trucks and household appliances rose, Bloomberg reported. The increase is less than a 0.8 percent rise in January. Excluding food and fuel, core prices rose 0.2 percent.

Wells Fargo & Co. Chairman Richard Kovacevich called the government’s plans to stress-test the largest U.S. banks and then release the results to the public weeks later as “asinine,” the Birmingham Business Journal reported. In a speech at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research’s economic summit last week, Kovacevich noted that his company does stress tests on its portfolios often and shares the results with regulators, and reiterated that Wells Fargo initially resisted taking $25 billion through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He also said that he disagreed that the government’s plan would boost confidence in U.S. banks.

General Growth Properties Inc. has received an extension on a $2.58 billion credit agreement until the end of the year, but still has failed to get enough bondholders to approve an extension on $2.25 billion worth of bonds on its Rouse Co. unit through the end of 2009, the Associated Press reported. General Growth extended its offer for an extension until 5 p.m. Friday after falling short of the 90 percent approval it needed by the end of day yesterday. General Growth has struggled to refinance billions of dollars of debt during the recession, much of which is related to a $7 billion purchase of its competitor in 2004. Another $395 million in unsecured bonds issued by its Rouse unit came due Sunday, which could force General Growth to go into bankruptcy if lenders call in that debt.

Metro Arts Two Rivers Art Expo is accepting applications from artists interested in exhibiting and selling their work at the event Nov. 7-8. The deadline is April 15. Learn more at www.metroarts.org.

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