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Coinstar sees growth; Redbox revenue slows

Sat., Feb. 8, 2014, midnight

SEATTLE – For years, the Redbox movie-rental business has trumped Coinstar’s coin-counting machines when it comes to rapid sales growth.

The corporate parent even changed its name from Coinstar to Outerwall last summer, driving home the point that it no longer is just about coin kiosks.

But growth at Redbox has slowed considerably in the past year, while the Coinstar business has remained steady and even picked up a bit.

Bellevue-based Outerwall reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter revenue rose 5.4 percent to $593.7 million. The company posted a quarterly profit of $1.68 a share, on an adjusted basis, compared with $1.01 a year ago.

Redbox, which rents new-release DVDs for $1.20 a day at self-serve kiosks, generated $496.4 million in revenue, up only 1.7 percent.

Coinstar, which exchanges loose change for gift cards, grew by 8.4 percent to $80.7 million, driven by a price hike.

Meatpacker packaging clarifies content

LINCOLN, Neb. – Cargill, one of the nation’s largest meatpackers, has added wording to its labels on ground beef packages that indicates whether the meat inside includes a product that’s been called “pink slime.”

Since Jan. 20, all of Cargill’s U.S.-produced, fresh, 100 percent ground beef products that contain what it calls “finely textured beef” will say so on a label, whether sold in bulk or in chubs directly to consumers, the company announced this week. Cargill had said in November that it would add the labeling, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Another company that makes the textured beef product, Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based Beef Products Inc., sued ABC News in September 2012 after the organization aired a story that used the phrase “pink slime.” The company said the story mentioned only Beef Products Inc. and its product and misled consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe.

Beef Products is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.

German court questions European rescue plan

BERLIN – Germany’s top court cast doubt Friday on the legality of a key part of the European Central Bank’s rescue plan for the 18-nation eurozone, taking the rare step of asking an EU court for its opinion.

The case involves the so-called Outright Monetary Transactions program, which allows the ECB to buy bonds of ailing eurozone members as an emergency measure. Though the program has never been used, its existence has been credited with easing the turmoil in bond markets that threatened the eurozone.

The ECB’s offer to buy bonds has resulted in a sharp drop in the borrowing rates in countries like Spain and Italy, calming fears that the countries might default and drop out of the euro.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice is seen by some analysts as more favorable to the ECB, and the German court’s delegation of a decision there could work in the bank’s favor.

Price of oil crests $100 a barrel briefly

NEW YORK – The price of oil briefly rose above $100 a barrel Friday for the first time this year on rising demand for fuel and some positive sentiment about the U.S. job market.

Heating oil supplies have declined as a cold and snowy winter has homeowners constantly cranking up the thermostat. The Energy Department said Wednesday that supplies of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, fell by 2.4 million barrels last week and are now 12 percent below year-ago levels.


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