Richie Rich Round-Up

We scour the business pages so you don't have to...and because you don't want to. But let's round 'em up, shall we?

In the let-them-eat-cake category, two local businesses reported their first-quarter earnings today, and it doesn't look like biz is bad for the likes of Neiman Marcus and Zale Corp., which have posted nice gains thus far this annum. Neiman's says its total revenues are up 12.6 percent in April alone, bouncing from $309 million in sales in April 2005 to $348 million last month--and for the year, its sales are up 10 percent, from $933 milion in early 2005 to more than a billion in 2006. And Zale Corp. says that for its third quarter, which ended on April 30, sales increased by more than two percent, from $516 million to $527 million. In related news, I am considering buying a new shirt and suit this weekend at Neiman's, which should increase May sales by at least 200 thou.

And in rich-folk technology news, Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks is following in Mark Cuban's tennis-shoe prints: He's financing a startup that will "furnish bundled cable and communications services to condo and apartment dwellers," according to The Deal (registration required, but you don't need to worry 'bout that.) According to the biz Web site, the company's called DirecPath, and it's a joint venture between DirecTV and Hicks Holdings LLC, with Hicks owning 75 percent of DirecPath. As for what the DirecPath is, well, sounds like a little bit of everything:

"DirecPath will pursue acquisitions of local providers of broadband, telephone and security services. It will combine those services with cable programming supplied by DirecTV and market the entire package to residents of high-rise condominiums, apartment complexes and gated communities."

In short: Tom Hicks = Big Brother.

And in patent lawsuit news worth more than half a billion bucks, Bloomberg News is reporting that Research in Motion--the Ontario-based company behind BlackBerry's wireless e-mail device--is back in court over patent infringment claims. Blackberry users no doubt recall that two months ago, Research In Motion, which has its U.S. headquarters in Irving, paid $612.5 million to NTP Inc. to resolve a five-year patent fight that threatened to make the handheld device utterly useless. Well, another company, Visto Corp., is going after Research in Motion in federal court in Marshall, Texas, with its own infringement suit. Research in Motion's fighting back with its own counterclaim filed this week in Dallas federal court. I found out about this last story using my Treo, suckers. --Robert Wilonsky

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