McDonald's said it is pulling out of three countries and closing restaurants in 10. The fast-food chain also plans to restructure operations in four nations and eliminate as many as 600 U.S. jobs. In seven of the past eight quarters, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company reported lower earnings as it struggles in a crowded restaurant market. Analysts said the latest announcement is part of a previously announced plan that includes slower expansion, an overhaul of U.S. restaurants and its first big price-discounting campaign since 1997. McDonald's operates in 121 countries and has 30,000 restaurants worldwide, less than half in the United States.
9/11 Aid Is Taxable, IRS Rules
The Internal Revenue Service determined that grants to small businesses in Lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are subject to federal taxes. But Charles O. Rossotti, who completed his term as commissioner of the agency this week, said businesses that received aid generally did not have to pay taxes on the full amount because they can use deductible business expenses paid for with the aid money to offset the grant.
United Airlines said it plans to lay off an additional 2,700 flight attendants because of reductions in its 2003 flight schedule as the airline tries to lower costs to avoid bankruptcy. The job cuts, which will begin Jan. 31, will bring the total number of attendants laid off to 4,800, the airline said. United said it has about 23,800 flight attendants worldwide. The flight attendants last month joined other employees in offering to take a pay cut as part of a plan to save UAL $5.8 billion over 5 1/2 years and keep the airline out of bankruptcy court.
A federal appeals court overturned Federal Communications Commission rules requiring television programs to provide aural descriptions of the action on the screen. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said Congress did not give the FCC the power to order what is known as "video description" when it asked the agency to study the issue of accommodating the blind.
United Parcel Service, the world's largest package hauler, said it will raise the price for ground shipments for businesses by 3.9 percent beginning Jan. 6. The cost of next-day air service will go up 3.2 percent.
Gator, which has been sued by Web site owners, including The Washington Post Co., over its pop-up advertisements, asked a judge to rule that hotelier Extended Stay America can't stop the ads on its site because people agree to accept them in return for software programs. Gator software, which stores information for signing on to Web sites and entering passwords, also displays paid advertisements atop other Web pages. Gator contends in its lawsuit that Extended Stay America "has no right to prevent computer users from choosing" to get the Gator software.
Philips Semiconductor plans to close its manufacturing plant in Albuquerque by year-end, eliminating 600 jobs. The plant, which opened 20 years ago, laid off 70 workers in September and 250 in June 2001. The facility makes chips for cell phones and pagers, as well as for the automotive industry.
Berkshire Hathaway, run by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, reported a profit of $1.14 billion as its insurance units raised prices. Its General Reinsurance unit, the third-largest reinsurer, had an underwriting loss of $434 million. In the year-earlier quarter, the company lost $679 million. Earnings from operations were $1.1 billion compared with a loss of $895 million a year ago.
Nokia, the world's largest mobile-phone maker, signed an agreement with Research in Motion that allows it to use the Canadian company's e-mail software in its mobile BlackBerry phones.
Lycos Europe, the Internet service owned by Bertelsmann and Lycos, said Juergen Richter will resign as chairman Nov. 30.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers