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Company News: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Uralkali, Merck, McDonald's, Wendy's

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) served investors some refreshing second-quarter gains, thanks to improving beer sales in Brazil and a thirst for the company’s pricier brews in the U.S. Shares of AB InBev surged almost 8 percent. The high-end beers sent profits up in North America, but sales volume there is still down despite (or possibly because of) the world’s biggest brewer’s new concoctions such as Bud Light Lime-A-Rita.

• Uralkali, the world’s No. 1 producer in the $20 billion market for a fertilizer nutrient called potash, is dropping out of one of the two largest ventures that have limited global supplies and kept prices high. The Russian company’s decision sent shares of potash producers—including Uralkali’s own stock—sliding as much as 27 percent, as investors anticipated a glut of fertilizer pouring into the market.

• Generic drugs keep crippling Merck’s (MRK) sales as the pharma giant struggles to bring new therapies to market. The second-biggest drugmaker in the U.S. reported a 49 percent drop in second-quarter income and an 11 percent decline in revenue as its lucrative asthma drug Singulair ran up against cheaper alternatives. The company replaced its head of research in April and is betting big on new medicines to treat cancer and Alzheimer’s, though those therapies are still years away from being available to patients.

• Thousands of U.S. employees at McDonald’s (MCD), Wendy’s (WEN), and other fast-food chains walked off the job on July 29 in a multi-state protest over pay. Workers also demanded the right to unionize without retaliation. Fast-food cooks in the U.S. earn about $9 an hour; the protesters seek $15.

Stock is an associate editor for Twitter: @kylestock

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