McDonald’s: Going vegetarian
McDonald’s (MCD) says it will open vegetarian restaurants next year in two northern Indian cities that are pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Sikhs. The meat-free outlets are a first for the world’s biggest chain, which hopes to boost revenues by catering to local tastes. Menus at the restaurants in Amritsar and Katra will include the McAloo Tikki burger, with a mashed potato patty, and the Pizza McPuff, a vegetable and cheese pastry. McDonald’s already keeps beef and pork products off the menu at its 271 outlets in India, where a majority of the population are Hindus and Muslims. The country’s growing urban workforce is driving rapid growth in fast-food sales.
Automakers: U.S. car sales booming
Chrysler (F:IM), Ford (F), General Motors (GM), Toyota (TM), and Honda (HMC) all reported better-than-expected U.S. sales in August as new models such as the Dodge Dart, Ford Escape, and Chevrolet Spark continued to gain. Sales stateside are on pace to climb at least 10 percent for the year, topping 14 million vehicles. That would make 2012 the best year for auto sales since 2007. The industry’s rebound has spurred hiring at automobile assembly plants from Michigan to Alabama.
Facebook: IPO fallout continues
Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, faced with a plummeting stock price and a deluge of shares hitting the market, says he won’t start selling his holdings for at least a year. Shares in the social network closed at $17.73 on Sept. 4, the lowest closing price since it went public at $38 a share on May 17. Morgan Stanley (MS), a lead underwriter of the IPO, recently cut its price forecast on concern that Facebook is having trouble reaching mobile users with ads. The company is spending an estimated $1.9 billion on share buybacks.
Amazon.com: More movies for a new Kindle
Two days ahead of unveiling a new version of its Kindle Fire tablet, Amazon.com (AMZN) announced a deal with pay-TV channel Epix to offer films such as The Hunger Games through its streaming video service. The agreement brings the number of titles on Amazon’s $79-a-year Prime subscription service to 25,000 and marks a doubling since the company introduced the Kindle Fire a year ago. The world’s largest online retailer is ratcheting up competition with Netflix (NFLX), which is losing exclusive access to the Epix catalog.
FedEx: Slumping along with Europe and Asia
FedEx (FDX) says a weak global economy is dragging down revenue. The world’s largest cargo airline cut its profit forecasts for the most recent quarter by about 8 percent due to lagging revenue from express shipments. FedEx is considered an economic bellwether because it moves goods ranging from financial documents to pharmaceuticals. The slowdown will likely add urgency to the company’s cost-cutting efforts, including a voluntary buyout program for some employees and the grounding of older, less-efficient cargo planes.