Businss briefs: 1 million added to Toyota recall of eight models

Toyota said late Wednesday that it will add another one million vehicles to an earlier recall of cars and trucks because floor mats could jam their accelerator pedals. The latest action comes a day after the Japanese automaker halted sales and production of eight popular models as it works to fix a problem in which the gas pedals can stick, leading to unintended acceleration. The automaker originally announced a floor-mat recall last fall, and Wednesday’s decision expands that to 5.3 million vehicles. That comes on top of 2.3 million vehicles that Toyota recalled separately one week ago, because their accelerator pedals could stick and cause runaway acceleration, a problem has resulted in growing political, legal and business fallout for Toyota, the nation’s second-largest seller of motor vehicles, which was built on a reputation for quality and safety.

Profits up 36 percent as Netflix grows

Netflix’s fourth-quarter profit surged 36 percent as its DVD-by-mail service surpassed 12 million subscribers. The results announced Wednesday reflect the growing popularity of Netflix plans that bundle DVD rentals with unlimited video streaming over the Internet for as little as $9 per month. Net-flix added more than 1.1 million customers during the quarter — the most in any three-month period during its 11-year history. The company earned $30.9 million, or 56 cents per share, in the quarter. That compared to $22.7 million, 38 cents per share, in the same period of 2008. The performance topped analyst estimates.

Unexpected drop in new home sales

New home sales posted an unexpected drop in December, capping the industry’s worst year on record and fueling concern that the housing market turnaround could falter. Last month’s results were the weakest since March and were only 4 percent above the bottom last January. The data showed the housing recovery remains limp despite newly expanded tax incentives to spur sales. Many in the industry, however, expect sales to pick up as the April 30 tax credit deadline nears.

Oracle completes acquisition of Sun

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison cheered the closing of his company’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems on Wednesday, vowing that Sun will immediately add to Oracle’s profits. He said layoffs won’t be as severe as some industry analysts were predicting. Analysts had expected Sun to suffer huge job cuts once Oracle closed the acquisition. But Ellison said Oracle wants to bulk up Sun’s staff to improve its sales — a problem Sun has had trouble cracking since the dot-com meltdown a decade ago. Oracle is hiring 2,000 people over the next few months for the Sun businesses, while layoffs from the acquisition will be about half that number, Ellison said. “We’re hiring, not firing. We’re not cutting Sun to profitability,” Ellison said at a conference with industry analysts.

From Herald news services