■ Auto industry
Mercedes facility planned
Automaker DaimlerChrysler AG plans to establish a production facility for its Mercedes-Benz S-Class in Malaysia next year, the company said yesterday. Production was likely to start in the middle of next year, the company said, but no details on volume or sales targets were revealed. DaimlerChrysler assembles E-Class and C-Class models in the country, and it already has production sites in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. Many auto manufacturers established local assembly facilities for imported components in Southeast Asia in a bid to avoid paying import taxes on cars. DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes division sold 97,200 cars in the Asian-Pacific region last year, up 10 percent from 2004.
Jakarta plans stake sales
The Indonesian government plans to sell stakes in 20 state companies from the second quarter of this year as part of its privatization program, a minister said yesterday. "There are 20 companies ready to be privatized," Minister for State Enterprises Sugiharto told reporters. The stake sales will start in the second quarter because companies would by then have released their audited financial results for last year, he said. He did not name the companies but said that some are those whose divestment was postponed in previous years. Last year, the government delayed the sale of a 7.1 percent stake in state gas distributor Perusahaan Gas Negara, worth an estimated 1.0 trillion rupiah (US$106 million).
Users make snap decisions
Internet users can give Web sites a thumbs up or thumbs down in less than the blink of an eye, according to a study by Canadian researchers. In just a brief one-twentieth of a second -- less than half the time it takes to blink -- people make aesthetic judgments that influence the rest of their experience with an Internet site. The study was published in the latest issue of the Behaviour and Information Technology journal. The author said the findings had powerful implications for the field of Web site design. "It really is just a physiological response," Gitte Lindgaard said on Tuesday. "So Web designers have to make sure they're not offending users visually. "If the first impression is negative, you'll probably drive people off." In the study, researchers discovered that people could rate the visual appeal of sites after seeing them for just one-twentieth of a second. These judgments were not random, the researchers found -- sites that were flashed up twice were given similar ratings both times.
Yahoo reports Q4 results
US Internet portal Yahoo said on Tuesday that its fourth-quarter gross profit rose 34 percent from the prior year to US$928 million. Yahoo's operating income for last year was up 61 percent from the previous year to US$1.108 billion. Gross profit for 2005 rose 42 percent to US$3.225 billion. Revenues for last year totaled US$5.258 billion, a 47 percent increase over the previous year. Net income for last year more than doubled from the prior year to US$1.896 billion, or US$1.28 per share. Adjusted net income for the final quarter of last year was US$247 million, rising to US$0.16 per undiluted share as compared with US$0.13 during that quarter in 2004, the company reported. Analyst expectations had pegged per-share earnings at US$0.17 for the quarter.