Employees to benefit from L.L. Bean’s rise in sales

L.L. Bean just finished its best spring and summer season in five years, with a performance that was strong enough to warrant the first midyear employee gift since 2007, the company announced.

Sales from March through August for the outdoors retailer were up 3 percent from the same period last year, bolstering the company’s position going into the critical end-of-year sales period, said Chris McCormick, president and CEO.

“While our most important selling season is still in front of us — moving into these critical fall weeks with a small cushion of profitability positions us well for the second half of the year,” McCormick told employees Monday in a memo.

The company’s board approved a $1 million bonus that will amount to $185 apiece for employees hired before February, said spokeswoman Carolyn Beem.

The privately held company didn’t disclose its spring sales figures.

L.L. Bean is known for sharing the wealth in good times with annual bonuses based on the company’s performance.

Last spring, the company’s 5,000 full- and part-time workers received a bonus equivalent to 7.5 percent of their annual wages after the company reported $1.52 billion in revenue for the company’s fiscal year.

Home builders’ confidence in housing market still high

U.S. home builders’ confidence in the housing market held this month at its highest level in nearly eight years. But builders are starting to worry that sales may slow if mortgage rates continue to rise.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Tuesday registered at 58 this month. That’s unchanged from August, which was revised down from an initial reading of 59.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

Firms settle federal charges of improper short-selling

Twenty-two investment firms are paying a total of $14.4 million to settle federal charges of improperly short-selling certain stocks and buying them soon after in public offerings.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlements Tuesday.

Short-selling is a bet that a stock will lose value. Short-sellers borrow shares and agree to sell them in hopes that the share price will fall.

They can then buy the shares at a lower price, return them to the lender and pocket the difference.

SEC rules prohibit short-selling a stock in the five business days before a public offering and then buying that stock in the offering.

– From staff and news services