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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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In brief: Sandwich maker from Spokane wins

The Subway restaurant chain crowned a Spokane woman its fastest “sandwich artisan” – in the world.

Jennifer Underwood, 25, manager of the Spokane Industrial Park store at 3808 N. Sullivan Road, recently won the global Sub Jammers’ competition in Chicago. She was clocked at 45.3 seconds, winning the grand prize of $3,000. Underwood also had won $1,000 in a regional qualifying round.

Subway had 144 employees from nine countries competing in this year’s contest.

Scott Maben

Potash rejects buyout offer

ST. LOUIS – A global race to snap up fertilizer companies accelerated Tuesday, when fertilizer producer Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. rejected a buyout offer worth $38.49 billion, calling it “grossly inadequate.”

The unsolicited takeover bid from BHP Billiton Ltd. raises the ante for agribusiness firms trying to lock in ownership of fertilizer supplies before an expected rebound in crop production. Fertilizer prices skyrocketed during the food shortage of 2008, and companies like BHP think history could repeat itself as consumers start spending more on food.

“It’s a form of a commodity play,” said Scott Irwin, professor of agriculture at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Companies are trying to snap up fertilizer makers while prices – and their stock valuations – are still relatively low.

The Potash board said it believes BHP’s timing is particularly troubling because Potash’s stock is still undervalued, as the industry only begins to emerge from the economic downturn.

Associated Press

Mazda issues recall over steering

WASHINGTON – Mazda Motor Corp. is recalling more than 300,000 Mazda3 and Mazda5 vehicles in North America to fix problems with the power-steering system that could lead to a crash, a problem the automaker addressed in Japan a year ago.

The Japanese automaker told the government the recall involved model year 2007-2009 Mazda3 and Mazda5 vehicles built from April 2007 through November 2008. The recall involves 215,000 vehicles in the United States and an additional 100,000 vehicles in Canada and Mexico.

Mazda said the vehicles could have a sudden loss of power-steering assist, making it difficult for the driver to steer the vehicle and increase the risk of a crash.

Associated Press

Earnings roundup

From wire reports

• Wal-Mart’s net income was $3.59 billion, or 97 cents per share. That compares with $3.47 billion, or 89 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose almost 3 percent to $103.7 billion.

• Home Depot Inc.’s second-quarter net income rose 7 percent, helped by modest rises in transactions and revenue.

• Saks Inc. lost $32.2 million, or 21 cents per share, in the quarter that ended July 31. A year earlier, the chain lost $54.5 million or 39 cents per share.

• Abercrombie & Fitch’s quarterly net income totaled $19.5 million, or 22 cents per share. A year ago the company lost $26.7 million, or 9 cents per share. Earnings were 24 cents per share excluding a charge for closing stores.

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