Wal-Mart trimming health plans
NEW YORK – Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation’s largest private employer, is scaling back the eligibility of health care coverage offered to future part-timers and dramatically raising premiums for many of its full-time workers. Industry observers say the changes could have implications for millions of other workers, as more companies on the fence could replicate its moves.
The discounter, which employs more than 1.4 million workers, said the changes were forced by rising health care costs. All future part-time employees working less than 24 hours a week, on average, will not be covered under the plan, starting next year.
Premiums will rise for many existing workers, and the company will reduce by half the amount it contributes for each worker to help pay for health care expenses not covered under their plan. Tobacco users will particularly be hit hard, seeing premiums more than double compared with increases of as much as 41 percent for singles.
McDonald’s may raise prices
NEW YORK – McDonald’s Corp.’s third-quarter net income rose by 9 percent as it kept defying a tough economy and attracting more customers. But those diners might want to get ready to pay more.
The world’s largest hamburger chain, which has performed well throughout the recession and its aftermath, noted potential challenges like the rising cost of beef and higher labor costs. McDonald’s, a bellwether for the rest of the fast-food industry, hinted that it could raise menu prices for the third time this year.
“The economists say we are officially out of the recession, but it hardly feels that way,” CEO Jim Skinner said. He referred to McDonald’s gains as “hard-won” victories.
The 9 percent rise in net income, to $1.51 billion, represents McDonald’s ninth straight quarter of earnings gains.
Verizon earnings double
NEW YORK – Earnings doubled at Verizon Communications Inc. in the latest quarter due to pension accounting effects, but the bottom-line result masked a weak quarter in the local-phone division, which was hammered by a strike and a hurricane.
In wireless, Verizon, the largest carrier, kept adding more high-paying subscribers than rival AT&T Inc. But like AT&T, it was hurt by the delayed launch of the new iPhone model, and missed analyst expectations for the number of new subscribers on contract-based plans.