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Byline: -- Staff and Wire Services

Gas mileage key for car shoppers

WESTLAKE VILLAGE -- Several months of higher prices have taken a toll on consumers as new-vehicle shoppers are more frequently citing gas mileage as a reason for rejecting a vehicle, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

A new study, which examines why consumers consider a model but ultimately purchase a different make or model, finds that nearly 17 percent of new-vehicle shoppers cite gas mileage as a reason for vehicle rejection -- up from 13 percent in 2002.

Poor gas mileage is the third-most-cited reason for rejecting a vehicle, following ``total price too high'' and ``total monthly payment too high,'' respectively.

In particular, heavier models with poor fuel economy, such as utility vehicles and pickup trucks, have the highest rejection levels due to gas mileage.

Utility vehicle shoppers who reject a vehicle due to gas mileage will typically purchase a smaller utility vehicle that is similar in configuration to the larger vehicle they rejected.

Revlon to cut 250 jobs, product line

NEW YORK -- Revlon Inc. is cutting 250 jobs, or 8 percent of its work force, and is canceling its recently launched Vital Radiance cosmetics line aimed at older women in a bid to return the company to profitability.

The steps announced Monday come a week after Revlon, which is controlled by financier Ron Perelman, ousted its president and chief executive officer, Jack Stahl, and replaced him with the company's CFO, David L. Kennedy.

Revlon also announced that it expects losses in the third quarter and for the year, and its shares fell 15 cents, or 12 percent, to close at $1.09 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange. That is at the low end of its 52-week range of 76 cents to $3.95.

Revlon, which has been struggling with debt and increased competition from rivals L'Oreal SA's Maybelline and P&G's Cover Girl, had been counting on Vital Radiance to help reverse its fortunes. But results for the brand, which landed on retailer's shelves early this year and is aimed at the over 50-age group, were disappointing, causing merchants this spring to cut back on space allowed for them.

Crude oil free fall may be near end

WASHINGTON -- Crude-oil futures briefly dipped below $60 a barrel Monday, then jumped by more than $1 in a sign that the recent free fall might be nearing an end.

Natural gas futures continued to sink amid record U.S. supplies, settling at a three-year low.

The average retail price of gasoline nationwide is now $2.38 a gallon -- the lowest level since March -- and analysts believe pump prices could soon decline to within pennies of $2 a gallon.

While that would no doubt be a relief for U.S. motorists after a summer with prices above $3 a gallon, gasoline is still about 70 percent more expensive than it was at the start of autumn just a few years ago.

Chrysler gears up for smaller cars

DETROIT -- Chrysler is moving to become a company that's less reliant on trucks for profits and more competitive internationally with a portfolio of smaller cars, its top executive said Monday.

Tom LaSorda, president and chief executive of DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group, said trucks and bigger sport utility vehicles historically have accounted for more than 70 percent of Chrysler's U.S. sales. So the company has been hit harder than any other manufacturer by the shift toward more fuel-efficient vehicles, he said.

LaSorda said Chrysler has 10 new models coming out this year.

2 HP employees get subpoenas

WASHINGTON -- Two Hewlett Packard employees involved in the company's controversial investigation of boardroom leaks received subpoenas Monday to testify before a congressional committee conducting an inquiry on the probe.

Kevin Hunsaker, HP's senior counsel, and Anthony Gentilucci, HP's global security manager, received subpoenas to appear Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee.

Several HP executives are scheduled to speak Thursday, and on Friday several chief executives in the wireless industry are expected to testify.

The hearings are part of a seven-month inquiry into the safety and security of consumers' personal data.

On Monday, HP said that Gentilucci said he is leaving the company starting today, by his own choice. Hunsaker has also been reported to be in the process of leaving the company, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Analysts and other HP watchers have said they expect more resignations, as HP tries to take control of a situation that some say has tarnished the company's ethical image.

The invited witness list for Thursday includes Patricia Dunn, the former HP chairwoman who resigned Friday; Mark Hurd, HP's chief executive, who took over as chairman the same day; and Ann Baskins, HP's general counsel.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 26, 2006

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