Around the business world
WASHINGTON ” The productivity of American workers slowed to a standstill in the summer while wage pressures were rising at the fastest clip in more than two decades, a combination likely to raise inflation concerns at the Federal Reserve.
NEW YORK ” A disappointing sales performance and outlook from Wal-Mart raised the possibility of intense price wars this holiday season ” a boon to consumers but a troubling prospect for the industry’s profits. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it expects same-store sales to be flat in November due to tough year-ago comparisons. The world’s largest retailer also confirmed that October sales at established location rose just modestly.
NEW YORK ” The former chief executive of Computer Associates International Inc., Sanjay Kumar, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $8 million for his role in a massive accounting fraud scandal at software company.
WASHINGTON ” Clambakes, crabcakes, gumbo with crawfish and even humble fishsticks could be little more than a memory in a few decades. If pollution and overfishing trends continue, populations of just about all seafood face collapse by 2048, ecologists and economists warn.
DETROIT ” Last month, car and crossover vehicle sales declined and sales of pickups and large sport utility vehicles rose. But auto industry analysts say it may not be a trend brought on by lower gas prices. Instead, it’s due largely to incentives.
NEW YORK ” CBS Corp. reported lower net earnings from a year ago, when it was still combined with Viacom Inc., but operating earnings rose and the company announced a share buyback of up to $1.5 billion. Investors have been pressing CBS to say what its plans are for its cash stockpile of $3.2 billion.
CHARLOTTE ” Buried deep in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc.’s annual report for fiscal 2006, released this week after months of delay, was a startling revelation: systemwide sales have dropped more than 18 percent in each of the last two years. The plummet in sales ” nearly unheard of among established restaurant chains ” presents the biggest long-term challenge for the maker of the famous “Hot Now” doughnuts.
DETROIT ” FORD-BENEFIT CUTS ” Ford Motor Co., which last week announced a $5.8 billion third-quarter loss, is reportedly cutting back health care benefits for some white-collar retirees, boosting health care premiums for salaried workers and won’t give them merit pay raises next year.
DENVER ” Another itchy sweater? $50. A lifelong memory? Priceless. Web sites like Excitations.com and cloud9living.com are urging gift givers who don’t want to give more stuff this holiday season to offer experiences instead ” such as a flight to feel weightless, a chance to play pool with “Black Widow” Jeanette Lee or a day as a circus ringmaster.
AUSTIN ” A company that makes most of its revenue licensing patents has reached an $8 million settlement with some of the tech industry’s biggest players over the use of a patent covering the ubiquitous JPEG digital image format. U.S. Patent No. 4,698,672 had been a mainstay for Austin-based Forgent Networks Inc., bringing in more than $110 million in settlements and licensing fees in the past three years.
MOSCOW ” Out of gift ideas with the holiday season approaching? Businesses catering to Russia’s millionaires propose a $1.3 million diamond-encrusted cell phone, a $500,000 racing horse, or ” if you’re really short of cash ” a $70,000 mini airplane. Those were some of the items on display at the Millionaire Fair in Moscow: A screaming display of the country’s oil-driven wealth and its nouveau riches’ trademark eagerness to spend it with grace ” or bad taste, some might argue.
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