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Biz bits

By wire services
Published May 2, 2004

The premium segment of the global $42.2-billion chocolate industry is growing as tastes turn toward confections with a higher cocoa content. The trend mirrors an increased demand for gourmet coffees and olive oils, says Ernst Tanner, chief executive of chocolatemaker Lindt, whose revenues and profits have been on the rise. Tanner's take on the trend: "People have had enough of mass-produced foods. They want to pamper themselves and enjoy what they eat."

Current college seniors may still have a lot to learn after spring graduation. More than half of soon-to-be-graduates have not started looking for full-time employment and more than one-third think it will take less than three months to find their first jobs.

Flexibility long has been considered a desirable quality at work. Now a leadership guru says the new favored attribute is "agile." Andrea Huff, executive vice president and a coaching director at Lee Hecht Harrison, says flexibility is about reacting, while agility is about anticipating and being more aggressive.

About half of working teens don't expect Social Security to exist by the time they retire, but few have started saving for their future. Only 15 percent of teens have money in the stock market, according to a poll by Junior Achievement and the Allstate Foundation.

Whether or not you buy into the theory of a housing bubble, there are ways to protect yourself against a potential burst. recommends home buyers make down payments of 20 percent or more, avoid bidding wars for houses in hot markets, shun interest-only loans and buy for the long-term.

Companies are hiring again, Monster Worldwide reports, and salespeople are in greatest demand. That's because companies are trying to "sell their way out of the recession," chief executive Andrew McKelvey says. Demand also is high for auditors and accountants, health care workers and clerical staff, he says.

In one episode, TV's Friends clan debated a hypothetical and vexing choice of food or sex. A recent telephone survey offered a twist: Would you prefer more money or more sex? The responses left little to debate - two-thirds selected money, regardless of income.

- Compiled from Times wires and Web sites

[Last modified May 2, 2004, 01:05:38]

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