PepsiCo plans to stick by its struggling North American beverage unit, with hopes that the introduction of naturally sweetened, lower-calorie beverages will help revive soft drink sales. The company has been under pressure to spin off the drink business in favor of its stronger Frito-Lay snack unit. The calls for a split come as PepsiCo’s drinks, which include Mountain Dew, Tropicana and Aquafina, have lost ground to bigger rival Coca-Cola Co. But PepsiCo said Thursday that it concluded after an “exhaustive” review that it already has the best possible structure for its North American beverage unit.
Burger King’s new lower-calorie french fries didn’t spark a stampede to restaurants, but the company says they helped push up sales slightly amid heightened competition. The Miami-based chain on Thursday reported a higher quarterly profit on growth overseas, with particularly strong results Asia. In North America, it said new menu items like Satisfries french fries and the Big King burger, which mimics McDonald’s Big Mac, helped lift sales 0.2 percent at established locations.
General Motors is recalling nearly 780,000 compact cars in North America because the engines can shut down unexpectedly and cause crashes. The company said six people have been killed in crashes related to the problem. The recall affects Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 through 2007 model years. U.S. safety regulators say the weight of the key ring and rough roads can move the ignition switch out of the run position, cutting the engine and electricity. If that happens, air bags may not work.
The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage edged up this week to 4.28 percent from 4.23 percent but remains near historically low levels after declining during the five previous weeks. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average for the 15-year loan was unchanged at 3.33 percent.