Saturday, February 7, 2004

Business Digest

McDonald's monthly sales up worldwide

CHICAGO - McDonald's Corp. on Friday reported sharp sales gains in the United States and elsewhere for January - the first full month after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease emerged.

Worldwide sales were 19 percent higher last month than in January 2003. Sales at restaurants open more than a year rose 10 percent thanks to gains of an impressive 13.4 percent in the United States and 6.5 percent in Europe.

File-swapper's offices searched for evidence

SYDNEY, Australia - Investigators from the Australian recording industry Friday raided the Sydney offices of Internet file-swapping network Kazaa in search of evidence to support allegations of copyright infringements.

The raid was conducted under a rarely used law, known as Anton Pillar, which allows litigants in civil copyright cases to gather evidence.

The Federal Court gave major Australian record labels permission to raid 12 premises in three states to collect evidence against Kazaa, said Michael Speck, general manager of Music Industry Piracy Investigations.

Cigna announces profits and layoffs

PHILADELPHIA - Cigna Corp. plans to eliminate about 3,000 jobs, almost 9 percent of its work force, in an effort to reduce operating expenses by about $300 million in 2004.

The announcement Friday came as the huge health insurance and employee benefits provider reported its fourth-quarter profit surged, beating analysts' expectations.

But Cigna also announced plans to slash its quarterly dividend to 2.5 cents from 33 cents a share effective after the April payout, and its shares tumbled 6 percent in morning trading.

Shares in Cigna fell $5.55, nearly 9 percent, to close at $56.55 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shoe seller now can also offer hats

INDIANAPOLIS - Shoe retailer Genesco Inc. has bought Indianapolis-based hat retailer Hat World Inc. for $165 million.

The acquisition, announced after markets closed Thursday, gives Nashville, Tenn.-based Genesco a business that targets teenagers and young adults.

Hat World specializes in sales of officially licensed and branded sports headwear. Genesco sells footwear and accessories in more than 1,040 U.S. retail stores.

AARP helps provide Home Depot workers

ATLANTA - Home Depot is forming a partnership with AARP to recruit people older than 50 to fill jobs. The partnership will provide training and offer an easier application process.

Home Depot has about 35,000 jobs opening up at its 175 new stores in 2004.

Under the agreement, the AARP will find and train the workers and will help them apply for the jobs.

From wire reports

Delta pilots willing to talk
Hiring up, jobless rate falls
Popeyes spices up decor
Wal-Mart plans Oxford megastore
What's new? It starts in Japan
Rate report
Roto-Rooter losses narrow
Business Digest
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