Here is a look at more of Tuesday's top business stories:
Charming Shoppes posts profit, cuts staff
BENSALEM, Pa., March 18 (UPI) -- Charming Shoppes Inc., a women's plus-size clothing retailer, said it posted a quarterly profit and plans to cut 14 percent of its corporate and divisional staff as part of a cost-reduction plan.
The company, whose 2,250 stores include the Lane Bryant chain, also lowered its earnings outlook for the current quarter because of weaker than expected sales last month.
Charming Shoppes said it posted a fourth-quarter net income of $4 million, or 4 cents a share for the period ended on Feb. 1, compared with a net loss of $27.8 million, or 25 cents a share during the same period last year.
Excluding a credit related to a restructuring charge, earnings were $1.9 million, or 2 cents a share, in the latest period.
The retailer also said it lowered its first-quarter earnings outlook to a range of 8 cents to 10 cents a share on a percentage sales decline in the mid-single digits at stores open at least a year.
Charming Shoppes also said it would cut 160 jobs at its corporate and divisional home offices and about 125 jobs in other operations. It said it expects the cost-cutting plan, which includes the closure of 9 Monsoon/Accessorize stores which are operated by Charming Shoppes under a joint venture with Monsoon Plc., to improve annualized pre-tax earnings by approximately $45 million.
Charming Shoppes operates 2,242 stores in 48 states under the names Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Fashion Bug Plus, Catherine's Plus Sizes, Monsoon and Accessorize.
August Technology cuts staff
MINNEAPOLIS, March 18 (UPI) -- August Technology Corp. said it plans to cut 17 percent of its total staff as part of a plan that will save the semiconductor inspection equipment maker about $2.3 million annually.
The company said it laid off about 30 direct, contract and temporary employees, in response to continued uncertainty in the microelectronics industry. The cuts, which took place across all lines of the company's business, leave a work force of about 146 employees.
The company said it will continue to focus on controlling discretionary spending in all areas of its operations. But, August Technology believes any savings from the cost-cutting initiatives will be offset by severance and other costs related to the layoffs in the current first quarter.
The company also confirmed its previous guidance that first-quarter revenue would remain flat with fourth-quarter revenue of $6.3 million. Last year, the company reported revenue of $5.51 million.
The company also affirmed a previous forecast that it plans to record a loss in the first quarter. Analysts on Wall Street expect the company to post a loss of 17 cents a share, compared with a loss of 6 cents a share a year earlier.
Tenet Healthcare cutting costs
SANTA BARBARA, Calif., March 18 (UPI) -- Tenet Healthcare Corp. said it is cutting costs and shedding 14 of its hospitals to accelerate its share repurchase plan and sharpen its strategic focus.
Tenet said it expects to record impairment and restructuring charges related to the moves, although neither the size nor the timing was disclosed.
The hospital operator said it plans to divest itself of or consolidate 14 of its 114 hospitals that no longer fit the company's core operating strategy. The 14 hospitals have total annual revenue of about $933 million.
Proceeds of the planned divestitures primarily will go toward speeding up planned share repurchases, the company said.
Despite the expected impairment charges from the divestitures, the company expects the overall result to add to earnings slightly.
Tenet also seeks to cut non-patient-care expenses by at least $100 million annually to improve operating efficiency and profit margins.
DIRECTV Latin America files Chapter 11
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 18 (UPI) -- DIRECTV Latin America LLC said it has filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
The filing applies only to DIRECTV Latin America, LLC, a U.S. company, and does not include any of its operating companies in Latin America and the Caribbean, which will continue regular operations.
DIRECTV is a pay television service in Latin America and the Caribbean with about 1.6 million subscribers in 28 countries.
DIRECTV Latin America said it intends to continue providing service without interruption across Latin America and the Caribbean.
DIRECTV Latin America is a Delaware limited liability company owned by DIRECTV Latin America Holdings, a subsidiary of Hughes Electronics Corp.
Hughes has agreed to provide DIRECTV Latin America with a $300 million senior secured debtor-in-possession financing facility, subject to Bankruptcy Court approval.
Fund managers bearish on bonds
NEW YORK, March 18 (UPI) -- Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. said that global fund managers are unambiguously bearish on bonds and more pessimistic about the economic outlook.
The firm said in its monthly survey that about 55 percent of the 300 fund managers polled from March 6-13 said bond yields will be higher within 12 months' time. Only 14 percent expect short-term rates to be higher.
Two-thirds of those polled said that global bond markets are overvalued, compared with 4 percent who said there is still some value left in bonds.
Fund managers' confidence in the economic outlook has declined since February with 33 percent of those polled expecting nominal growth of only 2 percent in the G-7 countries.
Country preferences were unchanged, with the majority of fund managers polled worldwide being overweight on emerging markets and underweight on U.S. and Japanese equities.