Business digest: 42% of smartphone users own an iPhone

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Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 11:17 am, Tue Mar 25, 2014.

Apple Inc.’s iPhone is owned by more than 40 percent of smartphone users in the U.S., giving the Cupertino, Calif., tech company a larger share of the national smartphone market than any of its rivals, according to a report Thursday.

Apple’s U.S. iPhone ownership grew from 35 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012 to 42 percent during the same period in 2013, according to a study by NPD Group.

The study found that Samsung Electronics Co. came in second place, with 26 percent of smartphone users reporting they own a device by the South Korean tech giant — up from 22 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.

Apple and Samsung combine to represent 68 percent of the smartphones owned in the U.S., placing the two companies well ahead of any competitors. While Apple and Samsung grew their ownerships, Google Inc.-owned Motorola, HTC Corp. and BlackBerry Ltd. saw their numbers drop. — The Los Angeles Times

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walmart Stores Inc. on Thursday joined an initiative that will require its Florida tomato suppliers to increase farmworker pay and protect workers from forced labor and sexual assault, among other things.

The nation’s largest retailer became the most influential corporation to join the initiative promoted by a coalition of farmworker activists based in southwest Florida. Farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers said they welcomed Walmart to its Fair Food Program because no other company has the market strength and consumer reach it has when it comes to selling produce.

Fair Food Program participants now include McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Chipotle, Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s and Yum Brands — the company whose restaurant chains include Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut. — AP

MINNEAPOLIS — Shares of Best Buy sank 27 percent after the company said sales declined during the holiday shopping season.

The drastic stock decline comes as investors grow increasingly worried about Best Buy’s future. There’s concern that Best Buy’s strategy of price matching to compete with Amazon and other competitors won’t be enough to keep the company afloat.

Best Buy’s latest sales decline came during November and December, a period that can account for up to 40 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue.

Still, the 0.8 percent decline in revenue at stores open at least one year for the nine weeks ended Jan. 4 was better than the 1.4 percent decline in the prior-year period. That figure excludes Best Buy’s Carphone Warehouse operations, which the company sold off in April 2013.

CEO Hubert Joly said the decline was due partly to an overall decline in the consumer electronics market that no one was expecting.

One bright spot was online sales, which climbed 23.5 percent. — AP

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Despite a concerted effort last year by Florida’s courts to push foreclosures to fruition, the state still carries a quarter of the nation’s foreclosure inventory, the biggest share of any state and three times that of California.

About 306,020 Florida homes are in foreclosure or bank-owned, according to a year-end report released Thursday by the housing firm RealtyTrac.

Nationally, more than 1.2 million properties were in some stage of foreclosure or already repossessed by the bank as of December, a 19 percent decrease from the same time in 2012.

— Cox Newspapers

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