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Talk of the day

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published June 21, 2006


Disney confident 'Cars' will rev up retail sales

Walt Disney Co. said retailers will sell $23-billion of products emblazoned with its characters in fiscal 2006, a 10 percent rise from a year earlier, helped by $600-million in merchandise revenue from the Pixar film Cars. The forecast includes a 13 percent increase to $3.4-billion in sales at Disney's Princess line, which is aimed at young girls, consumer products chairman Andrew Mooney, 51, said in an interview. Disney, the second-largest U.S. media company, collects licensing fees from goods sold by retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., the top two discount chains. Disney has benefited from sales of Cars branded products such as televisions, clocks and birthday party plates and napkins.

McDonald's wants Chinese drivers to get food faster

McDonald's Corp. and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. announced an alliance Tuesday to build drive-through McDonald's outlets, hoping to combine forces to profit from soaring Chinese car ownership. Under the agreement, McDonald's and the Chinese partner, known as Sinopec, will turn an unspecified number of the 30,000 gasoline service stations Sinopec operates nationwide into drive-throughs, the companies said. The alliance is aimed at capitalizing on two Chinese consumer trends embraced by an emerging middle class: the popularity of Western fast food and a new car culture. China is now the fastest-growing market for McDonald's and market leader Yum Brands Inc.'s KFC and Pizza Hut. Meanwhile, auto sales grew 30 percent last year, to 5.7-million vehicles.

Muffin maker reaches for dough with IPO

Otis Spunkmeyer Holdings Inc. registered Tuesday for an initial public offering of up to $230-million in common stock, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The San Leandro, Calif., based company makes cookies, muffins, brownies, bagels and frozen cookie dough. Details about the number of shares offered and estimated price range for the IPO weren't disclosed in Tuesday's filing.

Elle debuts in Middle East

Head-to-toe black robes rarely make it into the pages of women's fashion magazines. But Elle is changing that with the launch of its first Middle East edition this week. The issue, which arrives on newsstands in Lebanon, Jordan and Morocco on Friday, mixes glossy photos of stylish clothes with fashion advice for readers who wear loose-fitting abayas or chadors in public but want to look chic underneath and indoors.