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Playstation News Moves THQ Stock

Earlier this month, Sony Corp. announced its new release date for its Playstation 3. News that it will hit the shelves in November, probably making it available for the holiday season, sent shares of independent video game makers, including Agoura Hills-based THQ Inc. higher. For THQ, the news came at the same time as an analyst’s upgrade, lifting its stock price about 5 percent. Prior to Sony’s announcement, investors were worried that since products from Japan often take a few months to hit U.S. retailers’ shelves, the Playstation 3 might not have been available until 2007. Sony said, however, that it is planning a worldwide debut in Japan and the United States. Based on the news, American Technology Research analyst Paul-Jon McNealy gave both THQ and Activision “buy” ratings, saying the news on the Playstation 3 shipping will move both stocks more than anything else over the next nine months. The following day, THQ announced that it has purchased Austin-based Vigil Games, which is currently working on content for a scheduled 2008 release. “The team at Vigil is comprised of some of the most talented designers, artists and technologists in the industry,” said Jack Sorensen, executive vice president of worldwide studios at THQ. “This acquisition is part of our studio system strategy, which is designed to foster a singular vision and unique culture at each of our studios. Our system allows us to leverage resources across our entire development organization to the benefit of each of our studios.” Vigil’s new product, which will be compatible with next generation video game systems, will likely be announced next year. Non-Compliance Notice North American Scientific Inc., which makes products for the treatment of various types of cancer, receive notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market that it does not comply with the minimum $10 million stockholders’ equity requirement for continued listing. Additionally, it fails to comply with the $50 million market value of listed securities requirement. The company said it’s planning to submit a plan that will see it coming in compliance with all Nasdaq National Market listing requirements for review by Nasdaq staff. Filing Deadline Missed Shurgard Storage Centers, which is being acquired by Glendale-based Public Storage Inc., announced it will miss the deadline for filing its annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2005. The company has missed several quarterly and year-end filing deadlines over the last couple of years. Shurgard also reported that it expects to pay $23.4 million in fees to financial advisors in 2006. The first payment of $10.5 million will be due in the first quarter, and the remaining $12.9 million will be due once the merger has been completed. The company expensed $12 million in minimum fee obligations for services related to looking for strategic alternatives and its merger, $11.4 million of which remain unpaid. Blue Cross in Hospital Deal Thousand Oaks-based Blue Cross of California reached a multi-year agreement with Centinela HealthSystem. Its new three-year commercial agreement is effective immediately and lasts through 2008, and its new Medi-Cal agreement is extended through 2007. CFHS operates three hospital campuses, Centinela, Memorial and Marina. Blue Cross of California serves more than 7.6 million members. Wellpoint Inc., Blue Cross’ parent company in Indianapolis, also reaffirmed its projected earnings for 2006. For the first quarter, it expects earnings of $1.07 per share, which is in line with analysts’ expectations, and for the full year expects earnings of $4.54 per share, which misses analysts’ expectations by $0.03. Health Net Store Opens Making progress in its “Making Medicare Simple” campaign, Health Net Inc. opened a Medicare store in a Phoenix-area mall, the company said it may be the first store of its type in the country. The store gives seniors the chance to purchase plans covering health care costs and prescription drug costs by stopping at a retail store at the Fiesta Mall in Mesa, Ariz. “The response from seniors has been very positive,” said Mark El-Tawil, president of Health Net of Arizona Inc. “Our retail Medicare store helps make Medicare simple because so many seniors prefer to do business face-to-face at their leisure. This location provides them that opportunity, especially since a large number of seniors use this mall as a location for indoor walking as well as shopping.” The store will aim to sort out health care options for seniors, including the Medicare Part D plan which many find confusing. Health Net’s Medicare Advantage sales staff will be at the 2,500-square-foot store seven days a week. 3D Systems Files Suit 3D Systems Corp. is suing Envisiontec Inc. in Eastern Michigan and two other companies for infringing on several of its stereolithography patents. The Valencia company claims that the defendants are importing, marketing or selling prototyping systems used to create three-dimensional models of objects that infringe on 3D Systems’ patents. The suit also names Envisiontec GmbH of Gladbeck, Germany and Sibco Inc. of Ferndale, Mich. “At 3D Systems it is one of our priorities to deliver innovative solutions to our customers which are the result of our company skills and privileged assets,” said Abe Reichental, 3D Systems’ president and CEO. “As we have said before, we believe that our patents are among our most privileged assets, and we intend to take action to protect them when we believe they are being infringed upon.”

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