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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Procter & Gamble, Coke team up

ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola Co. and Procter & Gamble Co. are combining their juices and snacks into a joint venture to boost sales of brands such as Sunny Delight, Minute Maid and Pringles.

Procter & Gamble lacks a global distribution network as expansive as Coke's, and the biggest soft-drink maker needs P&G's research to come up with new products. By teaming, the two companies said they can boost sales of their juice and snack products to $5 billion in two years from $4 billion now. Coca-Cola wants faster growth for its noncarbonated drinks such as juices and bottled water as case sales in North America rose 1 percent last year, while Procter & Gamble is looking to turn around its food and beverage sales.

Japan posts first trade gap in 4 years

TOKYO -- Japan posted its first trade deficit in four years in January, as slowing growth in Asia and the United States cut into sales of exporters.

The trade balance, without adjusting for seasonal variations, turned to a 95.3 billion yen ($823 million) deficit last month from an 816.1 billion yen surplus in December, the Ministry of Finance said.

Japanese exporters are curtailing investment as orders dry up, threatening to stymie a recovery in an economy that shrank 0.6 percent in the third quarter last year. "The export figures were really bad," said Tomoko Fujii, a senior economist at Nikko Salomon Smith Barney Ltd. "And high-tech companies are cutting their earnings forecasts. We can no longer draw a recovery scenario for Japan."

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