Camry in battle to stay America's best-selling car, and other business news

2013-07-18T00:00:00Z Camry in battle to stay America's best-selling car, and other business newsFrom Wire Reports From Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star
July 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Camry in battle to stay America's best-selling car

DETROIT - America's top-selling car is in danger of losing its title.

Toyota's Camry has been No. 1 for more than a decade, but the company is stretching to keep it there with price cuts, rebates and lease deals.

Camry sales fell 2 percent from January through June. Meanwhile, its main rivals in the midsize market - the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion - posted big gains. The hot-selling Accord trailed Camry in sales by 21,000 at the end of June. Last year at this time the gap was 59,000.

Big banks' earnings pop, but 'the jury is still out'

NEW YORK - Major U.S. banks have turned in big profit gains this season, but the news isn't all good.

Much of the earnings increase is coming from cutting costs, rather than growing their core lending businesses. A boom in mortgage refinancing looks like it's about to peter out. And regulators are considering stricter rules that would force the banks to shore up their cash.

"It was a very good quarter with headline numbers better than expected," said Anthony Polini, an analyst at Raymond James. But, he added, "the jury is still out" on the second half of the year.

And he, for one, isn't overly optimistic: Polini thinks that revenue from mortgages and trading activities, which helped earnings this time around, will suffer through the end of the year, and he questions whether the U.S. economy can grow enough to support anything more than sluggish loan demand.

Bank of America reported second-quarter earnings Wednesday, following JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo last week and Citigroup on Monday.

Intel cuts its outlook amid slumping PC sales

NEW YORK - Intel Corp., the world's largest maker of chips for PCs, said Wednesday that sales will be flat. Intel is hoping that sales of processors for servers, tablets and smartphones will compensate for the drop-off in PC sales. The downward revision of the company's outlook is an admission that Intel chips haven't made it into many mobile devices.

Mattel 2Q profit falls; Barbie sales slide again

NEW YORK - Vampy teen Monster High dolls are taking a bite out of squeaky-clean Barbie.

Mattel said Wednesday its second-quarter net income fell 24 percent, hurt by a continued slide in Barbie sales and a $14 million write-down on the toy maker's Polly Pocket line.

It was the fourth straight quarter of sales declines for Barbie, one of Mattel's biggest and most iconic brands, and Mattel executives said their Monster High and other girls doll lines were likely taking away some sales from the 54-year-old fashion doll.

Monster High dolls, which are based on teen characters that are offspring of famous monsters, have been a huge hit for Mattel since they were introduced in 2010. Monster High sales have likely grown to more than $500 million in just three years of existence, while Barbie annual sales are about $1.3 billion, estimates BMO Capital Markets analyst Gerrick Johnson.

RadioShack's new CEO looks to revamp stores

RadioShack's new CEO Joe Magnacca has big plans to enhance the company's image. But is it too little too late?

Magnacca, who took over in February, has been working to revamp stores and refresh RadioShack's image as the chain struggles to fend off competition from the likes of Amazon.com and eBay.com, reverse slumping sales and strengthen its balance sheet. To do that, Magnacca said the company is transforming about 220 of the company's 4,400 locations into brighter, airier concept stores.

The stores will carry fewer overall items but have a broader array of trendier products like the popular Beats By Dre headphones and digital fitness gadgets. They will have such features as hands-on tablet displays and a speaker wall to let customers compare speakers.

KFC restaurant to show Col. Sanders the door

KFC is tossing out the chicken bones and the quaint image of founder Col. Harland Sanders as it gets ready to test a slightly more upmarket restaurant.

The fried chicken chain says it's opening a location called "KFC eleven" next month near its headquarters in Louisville, Ky., that will serve flatbreads with toppings, rice bowls, salads and only boneless pieces of its Original Recipe chicken.

Mixed report suggests housing recovery goes on

U.S. builders started work on fewer homes in June, mostly because apartment construction fell sharply. But applications for permits to build single-family houses rose to the highest level in five years, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, suggesting the housing recovery will continue.

Fed: Economy growing throughout the country

The U.S. economy grew throughout the country from late May through early July, bolstered by the housing recovery, consumers and more factory output, says a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday.

The Associated Press

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