McDonald's cites fourth-straight sales drop

McDonald's Corp., the world's largest restaurant chain, said sales at stores open at least 13 months fell 0.3 percent in February as its U.S. business slumped for the fourth consecutive month amid harsh weather. Analysts estimated a 0.1 percent decline, the average of 15 projections from Consensus Metrix. Domestic same-store sales slid 1.4 percent, Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's said in a statement. McDonald's, which has more than 14,200 U.S. locations, has been trying to attract Americans with coffee and breakfast foods. The fast-food industry also is struggling with shaky consumer confidence and a severe winter that McDonald's says hurt its U.S. sales last month.

Chiquita to buy Irish distributor

Chiquita Brands International said that it had agreed to acquire Fyffes, an Irish fruit and produce distributor, in an all-stock deal that valued Fyffes at about $526 million. The combined companies, which will be named ChiquitaFyffes, will be the world's largest producer and distributor of bananas and will have about $4.6 billion in annual revenue. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. Under the terms of the combination, Chiquita and Fyffes will become a wholly owned subsidiary of a new holding company incorporated in Ireland. The companies expect the combination to result in annual cost savings and efficiencies of at least $40 million by the end of 2016.

Sbarro files for bankruptcy agains

Sbarro filed for bankruptcy for the second time in three years as the pizza chain watches foot traffic slow in the malls many of its restaurants occupy. The Melville, N.Y., company filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan along with more than 30 affiliates. Sbarro had sought bankruptcy in April 2011, emerging the next November. This time, the Italian-style eatery chain has racked up between $100 million and $500 million in both assets and liabilities, according to the company. Last month, Sbarro said it would shutter 155 struggling company-owned restaurants in North America. But the closures would leave more than 800 units, including franchised locations, open worldwide, with 220 in the United States, the company said.

Mt.Gox seeks court protection in Dallas

Mt.Gox Co., the Bitcoin exchange that filed for bankruptcy in Tokyo last month, is seeking court protection in the United States, blaming its failure on a software flaw in the digital currency. Mt.Gox asked a federal bankruptcy court in Dallas to shield any U.S.-based assets the company may have while it tries to reorganize under the authority of the Japanese court. Mt.Gox last month said almost 750,000 customer Bitcoins and 100,000 of its own were missing and were probably stolen. "The facts known to date indicate that it was caused or related to a flaw in the software algorithm that underlies Bitcoin, and 'hacking' attacks of one or more persons," Mt.Gox Chief Executive Officer Mark Karpeles said in a sworn statement filed in Dallas.

Hold course on stimulus, Fed official says

Bad weather is largely responsible for some recent weak economic data and should not lead the Federal Reserve to stop reducing a key stimulus program, Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, said in Paris. Instead, with economic growth still forecast to pick up this year, the Fed might need to quicken the pullback of its monthly bond-buying program, he said. "I believe that weakness largely reflects the severe winter weather rather than a frozen recovery," he said. "So we must be wary of attaching too much significance to the latest numbers."

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