National foreclosures double from last year’s figures…Southwest Airlines cautious about air travel demand this fall; no immediate plans to cut back on expansion…Airgas plans new liquid carbon dioxide plant at Shell Deer Park refinery complex…
A real estate information company says foreclosure filings across the U.S. nearly doubled last month compared with September 2006. More financially strapped homeowners already behind on mortgage payments defaulted on their loans or came closer to losing their homes to foreclosure. RealtyTrac says more than 223,000 foreclosure filings were reported in September. At the same time, the number of filings in September was down eight percent from August. The filings include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. Some properties might have received more than one notice if the owners have multiple mortgages. Typically, borrowers must be 60 to 90 days past due on their mortgage payments before their lender will consider them in default, the first stage of the foreclosure process.
Complaints over Apple’s use restrictions and recent software update for the iPhone have erupted in two lawsuits. The suits accuse Apple and San Antonio-based AT&T of engaging in illegal monopolistic behavior. Two separate lawsuits were filed in San Jose, California, on October 5th. One was filed in federal court and the other in state court, and both seek class-action status. Both cases accuse the companies of unfair business practices and violations of antitrust, telecommunications and warranty laws. AT&T is the exclusive U.S. carrier for Apple’s iPhone. The federal lawsuit alleges that by not allowing other carriers to serve the iPhone, the two companies conspired from the beginning of their partnership to maintain a monopoly. Apple has sold more than a million iPhones since it hit the market on June 29th.
The chief executive of Southwest Airlines says he is cautious about demand for air travel this fall but has no immediate plans to cut back on expansion. Southwest and other carriers packed their planes with vacation travelers this summer. But fall is traditionally a slower time for airlines. Occupancy levels on Southwest fell from record levels over the summer but were slightly higher than in September 2006. CEO Gary Kelly called it “a solid month.” Southwest reports its third-quarter financial results next week. Kelly spoke during a news conference to unveil a remodeled gate area at Love Field. Southwest plans to spend $30 million to $40 million to give gate areas a facelift and allow customers to board by numbers instead of in three large groups. The upgraded gate areas are complete in San Antonio and will be finished next week in Dallas and in another dozen airports by early November. Southwest expects to retrofit gate areas at all 62 airports it serves by mid-2008.
Airgas plans to build a new liquid carbon dioxide plant at the Shell Deer Park refinery complex. The Pennsylvania-based gases distributor has signed a 15-year agreement with Shell Oil, which will supply the feedstock of raw carbon dioxide for the facility. The facility will purify and liquify raw carbon dioxide for commercial and beverage-grade use beginning in late 2008. Deer Park Refining will build a pipeline to the new two-acre Airgas facility.
ConocoPhillips has relinquished leases on 300,000 acres in Alaska, saying it would be too costly to develop. The Houston-based oil company had partnered with The Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum and Irving-based Pioneer Natural Resources. The 41 leases in the National Petroleum Reserve are being returned to the Bureau of Land Management. ConocoPhillips still retains 1.7 million acres in the reserve.
A joint venture of Houston-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Energy Transfer Partners is seeking regulatory approval to build a $1.3 billion 500-mile pipeline for transporting natural gas to market from fields in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The line would extend from southeast Texas to a connection with Transco Pipeline near Butler, Alabama. It would enter service in 2009.
A Texas company by November expects to begin extracting oil from a once abandoned field in Adams County, Mississippi. Dallas-based Denbury Resources specializes in recovering oil from previously used wells. Vice President Tracy Evans says the site will not be fully completed until early 2008. Once the site is fully operational it will also provide about 30 to 40 new jobs. Denbury’s latest venture in Adams County will tap the unused wells at the Cranfield site. Danbury is currently operating seven sites in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Delaware’s insurance commissioner has fined a Texas-based insurance company because it isn’t complying with state laws. Commissioner Mark Denn says Mega Life and Health Insurance Company has multiple instances of noncompliance. So Denn fined the company $500,000. But he says the fine could be reduced to $100,000 if they correct the problems. Denn says they were directing customers to the wrong policies, failing to offer required coverage and deceiving people through their marketing. The insurance commissioner’s order also requires the company to make restoration to customers in Delaware.
The huge beverage and snack maker PepsiCo says its third-quarter profit rose 17 percent on double-digit growth in international sales. The earnings results from the world’s second biggest soft drink company, which also makes Frito-Lay snacks, beat Wall Street’s estimate. Its shares edged up in pre-market trading. Plano-based Frito-Lay North America had seven percent operating profit growth on a six percent rise in revenue. Doritos, Sunchips, multi-packs and dips grew by double-digits while Lay’s reported declines. PepsiCo earned $1.74 billion for the quarter ended September 8th. Revenue rose 11 percent to $10.17 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had predicted earnings of 96 cents per share on revenue of $9.91 billion. Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo Beverages North America operating profit grew seven percent on a three percent rise in revenue. And Quaker Foods North America operating profit and revenue each grew two percent.