Business news briefs
Research firm Strategy Analytics says the launch of the iPhone 5 and the declining popularity of non-smartphones made Apple the biggest seller of phones in the U.S. in last year's holiday season. It estimates Apple shipped 17.7 million iPhones of all kinds to U.S. buyers in the October to December period, or one in three new phones.
Kraft Foods sues
Kraft Foods is suing Cracker Barrel Old Country Store over the restaurant chain's plans to use the "Cracker Barrel" name on packaged ham and bacon. Kraft says it started using the "Cracker Barrel" name on cheese in 1954. Kraft said it never took any formal legal action until now because Cracker Barrel had been using the name only at its restaurants.
ground last year
After two strong years, college and university endowments lost ground slightly during the fiscal year ending last June 30, with their investments declining 0.3 percent on average, according to a new study. Endowments are the assets owned and invested by universities, which typically spend about 4 to 5 percent of their values annually to support things like financial aid, faculty salaries and other expenses.
Spending on U.S. construction projects rose 0.9 percent in December, as housing and nonresidential construction posted gains while spending on government projects fell. For all of 2012, construction activity increased for the first time in six years, rising 9.2 percent to $850.2 billion compared with 2011, when action fell 3.3 percent.
expands in U.S.
Manufacturing in the U.S. expanded more than forecast in January, reaching a nine-month high and showing the industry is starting to improve. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index climbed to 53.1 last month from December's 50.2. Readings above 50 signal expansion.
Exxon Mobil Corp. nearly set a record for annual profit. The oil giant reported Friday that its 2012 net income was $44.88 billion, just $340 million less than 1 percent short of the company's record set in 2008, when crude oil prices hit an all-time high. Exxon's profit for the last 10 years totals $343.4 billion.
Generics cut into
Merck & Co.'s fourth-quarter profit fell 7 percent as generic competition slashed sales of its blockbuster allergy drug Singulair and the drug maker took sizeable restructuring and acquisition charges. The world's third-biggest drug maker's net income was $1.4 billion, or 46 cents per share, down from $1.51 billion, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.