In brief: Ambassadors trims losses

THURSDAY, FEB. 4, 2010

Spokane-based Ambassadors Group on Wednesday reported a $6.1 million loss in 2009’s fourth quarter and a loss of 32 cents per share.

That’s a 6 percent improvement over a $6.5 million loss, along with 34 cents a share, for the fourth quarter of 2008, the company reported.

The company arranges travel and education trips.

Net income for the 2009 year increased 10 percent to $20.3 million, compared with $18.5 million; the year’s earnings per share also rose to $1.05, compared with 95 cents in 2008, the company said.

A company release noted operating income for the year grew 18 percent, despite an 18 percent decline in participating travelers. That gain came from management of program prices, travel costs and operating expenses.

Tom Sowa

Ptera Wireless offers reward

Liberty Lake-based Ptera Wireless has created a Free Internet for Life program to reward customers who find five new customers for its service.

The program has just been launched, said Jim Wilson, president of Ptera Wireless. The company began in 2002 and has more than 110 transmitters reaching the majority of Spokane County residents.

The free-for-life deal, Wilson added, lasts as long as five referred customers maintain their Ptera accounts.

Ptera’s broadband wireless plans start at $49.95 per month for residential customers. There’s also an equipment charge to install a wireless receiver.

Tom Sowa

Chapter 11 again for Movie Gallery

NEW YORK – Movie Gallery Inc., owner of the Hollywood Video movie rental chain, has filed for Chapter 11 protection and plans to close 805 stores – about a third of its total.

Hollywood Video operates four stores in the Spokane area, three in Kootenai County and one in Sandpoint.

It’s the second trip through bankruptcy court in just three years for Movie Gallery. The company is struggling with competition as more people choose to stream videos online from Netflix Inc. and other services or pick up $1-per-night rentals at Redbox kiosks.

The company, which is based in Wilsonville, Ore., first landed in bankruptcy court in October 2007, unable to sustain the debt it took on in its $850 million acquisition of rival Hollywood Entertainment Corp. in 2005. Movie Gallery agreed to assume about $350 million of Hollywood Entertainment’s borrowings as a part of the deal.

The acquisition made Movie Gallery the No. 2 rental chain in the country behind Blockbuster Inc. but it has been forced to close more than 2,400 of its stores in the past three years, leaving about 2,600 still open, according to court filings released Tuesday.

Associated Press


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