Business digest: Cracker Barrel pushes back against investor

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Posted: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 12:00 am

Cracker Barrel won’t be sold to Sardar Biglari anytime soon. The restaurant chain’s board fired back at the activist investor this week, saying it plans to continue business as is despite Biglari’s push to put Cracker Barrel on the block. Biglari chided the company’s management in an open letter last week and pushed for a sale, preferably to him. If the board did not “promptly” announce a sale process, Biglari said in a regulatory filing, he would call a special shareholders meeting to vote on such a deal. Cracker Barrel has adopted so-called poison pill provisions in the past to prevent Biglari from taking over.

Hertz, one of America’s biggest car rental companies, has adopted a one-year shareholder rights plan, commonly known as a “poison pill,” to thwart an investor from gaining control of the board. The plan, which Hertz OK’d because of “unusual and substantial activity” in the company’s shares, would be triggered by any investor acquiring a 10 percent stake or more of the company’s shares.

U.S. home prices rose in October from the previous year at the fastest pace in almost eight years. But price gains slowed in most U.S. cities from September to October, suggesting the increases are leveling off. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.2 percent from September to October, down from a 0.7 percent increase from August to September. Monthly price gains slowed in 18 of the 20 cities tracked by the index. Prices have risen 13.6 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest since February 2006.

Consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed more than projected in December as Americans’ views of current economic conditions jumped to the highest level since April 2008. The Conference Board’s index rose to 78.1 from a revised 72 a month earlier that was stronger than initially estimated, the New York-based private research group said Tuesday.

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