Jump in Whopper sales can’t lift Burger King

Rising Whopper sales failed to translate into bottom-line dollars for Burger King Holdings Corp. in the fiscal second quarter, the fast-food chain said Thursday.

The nation’s No. 2 hamburger chain reported that profit fell and missed Wall Street’s expectations by 4 cents per share due to the effect of a stronger dollar.

The company said the currency translation hurt profit by 5 cents per share in the quarter, which ended Dec. 31. The company earned $44 million, or 33 cents per share, a 10.2 percent dip from earnings of $49 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, had expected Burger King to earn 37 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 3.4 percent to $634 million from $613 million.


Reports of new rules boost financial stocks

Financial stocks rebounded Thursday after reports surfaced that the government may move to alter, or even suspend, accounting rules that force banks to value assets at current market prices.

Morgan Stanley was among the sector’s biggest advancers, climbing $1.18, or 5.4 percent, to close at $23.19, after earlier falling as low as $21.52.

On Thursday, reports that the Treasury Department could tweak or even suspend the rules as part of its overhaul of the remaining bailout package pushed depressed bank stocks higher.

Bank of America Corp. jumped 14 cents, or 2.98 percent, to end at $4.84, after earlier falling as much as 20 percent.

Citigroup Inc. shares gained 4 cents, or 1.15 percent, to close at $3.53. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. advanced $4.88, or 5.55 percent, to $92.85.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. gained $1, or 3.47 percent, to $29.83, while U.S. Bancorp rose 82 cents, or 5.79 percent, to $14.99. JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 50 cents, or 2.08 percent, to $24.54.

Wells Fargo & Co. bucked the trend, falling $1.18, or 6.78 percent, to $16.27.

Gates money manager talks with AutoNation

Cascade Investment LLC, a money manager for billionaire Bill Gates, has been holding talks with the management of AutoNation Inc. and may also seek discussions with other shareholders.

Discussions with investors may concern “the strategic direction” of AutoNation and “opportunities to enhance shareholder value,” Cascade said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Cascade and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust own a combined 21.6 million shares, or 12.2 percent, of AutoNation, the largest publicly traded car retailer in the U.S.

The filing said Cascade and the Gates Foundation acquired their holdings “for investment purposes only,” terminology that is usually used when an investor doesn’t plan a takeover.

Cascade and the foundation each purchased 50,000 additional shares during the past 60 days, the filing said.


Flier adds technology to recognize speech

American Airlines says customers who call for flight information will get it faster because of speech-recognition technology that it is adding to its service for frequent travelers.

The system is geared to save the airline money by reducing the need for employees to handle calls.

American said Thursday that the “Remember Me” system will recognize phone numbers and greet customers by name if they’ve signed up under American’s frequent-flier program, AAdvantage. They can list up to three phone numbers from which they’ll call the airline.

If the customer is booked on a flight that day, the system will offer gate and flight information without prompting, the airline said.

Official raises concerns over big music merger

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal raised concerns about a possible merger of live-music companies Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. and Live Nation Inc., and said he may start an investigation.

Blumenthal said Thursday that has talked with “several” other state attorneys general about an investigation, he said. Ticketmaster and Live Nation may announce a combination as soon as next week, said two people with knowledge of the discussions.

They requested anonymity because the talks are private.

Ticketmaster’s possible combination with Live Nation, the largest concert promoter, has drawn criticism after the company’s handling of sales for Bruce Springsteen’s latest tour.

Fans trying to buy tickets for Springsteen’s tour this week were directed by Ticketmaster’s main Web site to a company-owned Internet reseller, where prices were hundreds of dollars above face value.


Downbeat jobs news sends Treasurys up

Longer-term Treasury prices rose Thursday after the government revealed more troublesome jobs market statistics.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 0.16 points to 107, and its yield fell to 2.90 percent from 2.91 percent late Wednesday.

The 30-year bond rose 0.47 points to 114.56, and its yield was unchanged from Wednesday at 3.68 percent.

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