Persistent Parker nears top job at American
Doug Parker has no problem donning rapper Psy's light blue tuxedo for Halloween and performing his own version of Gangnam Style before hundreds of employees. The CEO of US Airways even let a video of his dance get posted to YouTube. He's outspoken, confident, and persistent, and he is very close to being put in charge of the world's largest airline.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Parker camped out in Washington for three months to secure a government loan to keep his airline in business. One executive who was with him said it often seemed like the other airlines just wanted America West to go out of business.
Parker later engineered an audacious merger of America West and the larger US Airways. Then he spent the next seven years looking for another partner. First Delta rebuffed him. Then United. Twice. Parker then went after the only big airline left: American.
American also resisted at first. But Parker convinced its unions and bankruptcy creditors to pressure American management until it relented. The two sides announced Thursday they'll combine to form an airline that's bigger than United and Delta. Parker will run it.
States' choices set up national health experiment
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's health care overhaul is unfolding as a national experiment with American consumers as the guinea pigs: Who will do a better job getting uninsured people covered, the states or the feds?
The nation is about evenly split between states that decided by Friday's deadline they want a say in running new insurance markets and states that are defaulting to federal control because they don't want to participate. The choice was left to state governments under the law: Establish the market or Washington will.
With some exceptions, states led by Democrats opted to set up their own markets — called exchanges — and Republican-led states declined.
Herbalife stock surges after Icahn grabs stake
NEW YORK (AP) — Strictly business, nothing personal. That's how Carl Icahn characterizes the latest turn in his clash with fellow Wall Street titan William Ackman.
Both men have a keen interest in Herbalife, a maker of dietary supplements designed to promote weight loss. Ackman claims the company is a fraud and has bet that its stock price will crumble; Icahn says it's a great buy.
They both can't be right, and for now it's not clear which one is. Icahn, for his part, disclosed in a regulatory filing late Thursday that he had taken a 13 percent stake in the company, essentially betting that Ackman is dead wrong. Icahn says he's not making his bet merely to spite Ackman.
US factory output falls on weak auto production
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. factories slowed production in January after two solid months of cranking out goods. The weakness mainly reflected a big drop in output at auto factories that is likely temporary.
Manufacturing output fell 0.4 percent in January from December, the Federal Reserve said Friday. The decline followed increases of 1.1 percent in December and 1.7 percent in November.
Overall industrial production edged down 0.1 percent in January compared with December. Output In mining, the category that covers oil and gas drilling, fell 1 percent. Utility output jumped 3.5 percent, as a cold snap led more households to turn up their heat.
Foreign holdings of US debt hit $5.56 trillion in December
WASHINGTON (AP) — Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record level in December, evidence that overseas investors remained confident in U.S. debt despite on-going budget battles in Washington.
The Treasury Department said Friday that foreign holdings of U.S. Treasurys rose 0.3 percent in December from November to $5.56 trillion. It was the 12th consecutive monthly gain.
China, the top foreign holder, increased its holdings 1.7 percent to $1.2 trillion. Japan, the second largest holder, boosted its investment 0.2 percent to $1.12 trillion.
Burger King feels heat as rivals focus on value
NEW YORK (AP) — A revamped menu helped boost Burger King's profit in the fourth quarter but now the world's second biggest hamburger chain says it needs to play up value more aggressively to compete with rivals.
The Miami-based chain said Friday that sales in the new year are trending "modestly negative" as the broader fast-food industry fights to attract cash-strapped diners with cheap eats.
To address the intensifying focus on value from competitors, Steve Wiborg, president of Burger King's North America operations, noted the company launched a limited-time offer for a Junior Whopper at $1.29 this week.
Kraft Foods expects lower 4Q revenue
NORTHFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Kraft Foods expects fourth-quarter adjusted earnings above analysts' current estimates, but foresees lower revenue than a year ago.
The company, with brands like Oscar Mayer and Miracle Whip, also raised its 2013 earnings forecast Friday and announced that it will look to level out annual pension contributions after this year.
Kraft anticipates quarterly earnings of about 15 cents per share. Excluding charges, however, adjusted earnings would be 57 cents per share. That easily tops the 23 cents that analysts polled by FactSet expected.
BMW recalls more than 30,000 SUVs to fix brakes
DETROIT (AP) — BMW is recalling more than 30,000 SUVs to fix an oil leak that can knock out power-assisted braking.
The German automaker says the recall covers X5 SUVs in the U.S. from the 2007 through 2010 model years. The vehicles were made between Sept. 12, 2006, and March 18, 2010. They have eight-cylinder engines.
The company says a small amount of oil can leak from a brake hose and cause the power-assisted braking to fail. Brakes would still work, but the problem could increase stopping distances and cause crashes.
Facebook says it was hacked, no data compromised
Facebook Inc. says it was the target of hackers but no user information was compromised during the attack.
The social media giant said Friday on its security blog that the company discovered in January that its system had been targeted in a sophisticated attack. The attack occurred when a handful of the company's employees visited a developer's compromised website, which led to malware being installed on their laptops.
Facebook says it has found no evidence that user data was compromised.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 8.37 points to close at 13,981.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 1.59 points to end at 1,519.79. The Nasdaq composite fell 6.63 points to 3,192.03.
In New York benchmark crude for March fell $1.45 to finish at $95.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price many varieties of foreign oil, fell 34 cents to end at $117.66 per barrel in London.
Heating oil fell 1 cent to finish at $3.21 a gallon. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to end at $3.13 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1 cent to finish at $3.15 per 1,000 cubic feet.