Hostess to sell most of breads
NEW YORK — Hostess said Friday it has a deal to selling most of its bread business, including the Wonder and Nature's Pride, to Flowers Foods Inc. for $390 million. The deal also includes 20 bakeries and 38 depots. Hostess, based in Irving, Texas, announced in November that it was shutting down its business and selling its breads and snack cakes. The sales of the Twinkies, Ding Dongs and other brands of snack cakes are expected to be made separately in coming weeks. The deal with Flower Foods includes $360 million for the Wonder, Nature's Pride, Butternut, Home Pride and Merita brands, along with the bakeries and depots.
Taco Bell tests new value menu
NEW YORK — Taco Bell is testing a new value menu that could put it in more direct competition with the Dollar Menu at McDonald's. The Mexican-fast-food chain is testing a “$1 Cravings Menu” in two markets that lists nine items, including three new offerings. If successful, it would replace the chain's current value menu, called “Why Pay More,” with items priced at 89 cents and 99 cents. The $2 “meal deals” on “Why Pay More” are not offered on the new menu. Chris Brandt, vice president of marketing for Taco Bell, said the tests began in October in Fresno, Calif., and Knoxville, Tenn., and will continue for at least another couple of months before a decision is made on whether to roll out the menu more widely. He said the idea for “$1 Cravings” came about after consumer research showed diners felt like they were “forced to eat off the value menu,” rather than wanting the items it offered. So Taco Bell decided to split the “$1 Cravings” menu into what it considers to be five universal cravings: beefy, cheesy, spicy, crunchy and sweet.
Merck pulls cholesterol drug
Drugmaker Merck & Co. is suspending its sale of the cholesterol drug Tredaptive after initial results from a study showed that it wasn't effective and could raise the risk of some serious side effects. The Whitehouse Station, N.J., company said Friday it is telling doctors to quit prescribing the tablets, which are not approved in the United States, and it also is advising patients to stop taking the medication only after talking to a physician. The drug is sold in about 40 countries, including Europe. A company spokeswoman said Friday it will take a few months to implement the suspension worldwide. Merck said last month initial results from a big, late-stage study showed that adding Tredaptive to traditional statin therapy failed to lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and related problems.
Active rig count declines slightly
HOUSTON — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. dropped by one for a second consecutive week to settle at 1,761. The Houston-based company said in its weekly report Friday that 1,323 rigs were exploring for oil and 434 for gas. Four were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, Baker Hughes counted 1,987 working rigs. Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana gained five rigs, Oklahoma increased by four, Alaska added two and California, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming each gained one rig. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania lost six rigs while Colorado and Texas each dropped two. Arkansas and New Mexico remained unchanged.