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Business Briefing

February 03, 2010

UPS profit soars despite drop in sales

United Parcel Service Inc. is seeing more people using cellphones to buy and ship goods over the Internet, a greater number of customers paying for premium services such as next-day air and businesses beefing up operations overseas.

That resulted in a fourth-quarter profit of $757 million, or 75 cents a share, up from 254 million, or 25 cents, in the same period a year earlier. The only blemish was UPS' money-losing freight business, which ships larger items such as gym equipment, grand pianos and automobiles.

Revenue fell 2.5% to $12.38 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting a profit of 74 cents a share on revenue of $12.25 billion.

Hershey gets lift from price hikes

Hershey Co., the chocolate maker that dropped a plan to bid for Cadbury, reported that its fourth-quarter profit rose more than analysts estimated, helped by higher prices and improvements in its international business.

Net income increased 54% to $126.8 million, or 55 cents a share, compared with $82.2 million, or 36 cents, a year earlier, Hershey said. Excluding some items, profit was 63 cents. Analysts projected per-share earnings of 60 cents, according to a Bloomberg survey. Sales advanced 2.2% to $1.41 billion.

Hershey raised prices last year to offset higher costs for cocoa, sugar and dairy ingredients.

Whirlpool's net income doubles

Whirlpool Corp., the world's largest appliance maker, said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled to $95 million, or $1.24 a share, from $44 million, or 60 cents, a year earlier.

Fourth-quarter sales increased 13% to $4.86 billionas revenue for the North American unit increased 4% to $2.6 billion.

The maker of KitchenAid refrigerators and Maytag washing machines predicted full-year earnings of $6.50 to $7 a share. Analysts estimated $6.09 in a Bloomberg survey.


Metro areas see jobless rates rise

Unemployment rose in most cities and counties in December, signaling that companies remain reluctant to hire even as the economy recovers.

The unemployment rate rose in 306 of 372 metropolitan areas, the Labor Department said. The rate fell in 41 and was unchanged in 25. That's worse than November, when the rate fell in 170 areas, rose in 154 and was unchanged in 48.

The metro employment numbers aren't seasonally adjusted and can be volatile. Many of the increases were due to seasonal factors.


Twitter resets users' passwords

Twitter Inc., owner of the third-most-popular social-networking site in the U.S., has reset passwords for a small number of accounts that might have been compromised by a third party.

Twitter is still investigating the matter and believes the steps it has taken should ensure user safety, the company said. The company didn't specify how many accounts were involved.

Twitter provides a microblogging service that enables users to write updates, or tweets, of as many as 140 characters. Updates were posted that indicated user names and passwords were given to "untrusted" third-party sites, a spokesman said.

-- times wire reports

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