Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire




2002 auto sales fell for Big Three

DETROIT >> The top three U.S. automakers posted a 4 percent drop in sales last year after a robust 2001, but all had strong business in December thanks to attractive financing deals and other incentives.

No. 1 General Motors Corp. said yesterday it sold 4.78 million cars and trucks in 2002, down 1 percent from 2001's 4.8 million. No. 2 Ford Motor Co. was off 10 percent for the year, while DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group had a 3 percent decline in total sales.

Industrywide, total U.S. light vehicle sales of 17.2 million in 2001 made it the second-best year on record. The 2002 forecast is for 16.5 million cars and trucks -- possibly the fourth-best total.

However, much of the volume in 2002 was fueled by profit-shrinking incentives, and serious questions linger about prospects for sales in the coming months.

GM, Ford and Chrysler sold 923,299 light vehicles last month, 21 percent higher than the year-ago period.

Burger King to sell Aquafina water

Miami >> Burger King Corp. signed an exclusive, multiyear agreement with PepsiCo Inc.'s beverage unit to sell Aquafina bottled water in all 8,200 of the fast-food chain's restaurants in the United States.

Burger King, the second-largest U.S. hamburger chain behind McDonald's Corp., said it selected Aquafina among other brands because it is the No. 1 selling bottled water in the country.

Miami-based Burger King had more than 11,450 restaurants in all 50 U.S. states and 58 countries as of June 30. London-based Diageo Plc sold the fast-food chain last month to Texas Pacific Group and partners.

Separately, Burger King said it extended a beverage marketing agreement with Coca-Cola Co. Burger King named Coca-Cola the soft drink supplier to the chain's 2,980 restaurants in 54 Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Tyson CEO gets $3.48 million bonus

SPRINGDALE, Ark. >> Tyson Foods Inc. chairman and chief executive John Tyson received a $3.48 million bonus on top of a $1 million salary for 2002, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The proxy statement filed Thursday also says Tyson drew 300,000 shares of company stock, and he has an option to purchase 200,000 shares at a discounted price of $9.32 per share. The executive received an additional $172,463 in other compensation, a total that includes $83,606 for travel and $74,290 for entertainment.

For 2001, Tyson's salary was $650,000, with a bonus of $2.12 million. In 2000, Tyson had the same $650,000 salary but drew no bonus.

Tyson Food's co-chief operating officer, Richard Bond, had a 2002 bonus of $1.96 million and salary of $900,000. Greg W. Lee, the other co-chief operating officer, made a $1.41 million bonus in 2002, while drawing a salary of $650,000.

Walgreen earnings jump 24.6%

NEW YORK >> Walgreen Co., the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, yesterday reported a 24.6 percent rise in first-quarter profits as it sold more profitable generic drugs and sales gains from new stores helped offset weak consumer spending.

Walgreen, whose aggressive, decade-long push to open stores has underpinned its market-share growth, said net income for its fiscal first quarter ended Nov. 30 rose to $231.6 million, or 22 cents a share, from $185.9 million, or 18 cents a share, a year earlier.

The retailer, which ranks ahead of CVS Corp. and Rite Aid Corp., said sales rose 14.1 percent to $7.5 billion, while sales at stores open at least a year increased 8.6 percent. As of Nov. 30, Walgreen operated 3,954 drugstores.

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