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Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Briefcase

October 20, 2004

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Coke forced to change sales strategy in Europe

Coca-Cola Co. has agreed to change sales practices that helped it win roughly half of the soft drink market in Europe as part of a settlement of a long-running antitrust investigation by the European Union.

Coke's biggest rival, PepsiCo Inc., applauded the deal, which was aimed at creating more competition in the $21 billion European soft drink market.

Coke has roughly half the European market, compared with about 10 percent for Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola unit. In the United States, Coke's lead over Pepsi is smaller.

The changes include an end to exclusivity arrangements with stores or restaurants and allowing rival drinks into Coke-branded coolers.


Holiday

Downtown Lawrence to have Halloween event

Several Downtown Lawrence businesses will have special hours on Halloween to greet trick-or-treaters.

Maria Martin, executive director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said the nonprofit organization decided to have its annual Downtown Lawrence Halloween Trick-or-Treat on Oct. 31, even though the holiday falls on a Sunday when many businesses are normally closed.

Martin said dozens of businesses will be open from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to greet trick-or-treaters.

Earnings

McDonald's serves up profit in third quarter

McDonald's Corp. rode strong U.S. sales to a 42 percent increase in third-quarter earnings, its fifth straight quarter of increased profits since snapping out of a slump last year.

A fast-food juggernaut again on its home turf, the company benefited from longer U.S. restaurant hours, higher-priced new menu items, the "I'm lovin' it" ad campaign and accepting payment from customers via credit and debit cards.

For the July-through-September quarter, the company earned $778 million, or 61 cents a share, up from $547 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. That matched its estimate from last Wednesday when it disclosed that results would be much stronger than Wall Street expected.

Automotive

Financing arm drives Ford's profit growth

Buoyed again by strong results at its financial services arm, Ford Motor Co. swung to a profit of $266 million in the third quarter even though the loss at its worldwide automotive operations widened and its market share in the key U.S. market fell by more than a percentage point.

The nation's second biggest auto company raised its full-year earnings guidance slightly on Tuesday, primarily because of better-than-expected results at the financial business, Ford Motor Credit Co.

Ford earned 15 cents a share in the July-September quarter compared with a loss of $25 million, or 1 cent a share, a year ago.

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