Business

Business Digest

Sportswear

Nike Inc., the world's largest athletic-shoe maker, said first-quarter profit fell less than analysts estimated on revenue tied to Olympics merchandise.

Profit was $510.5 million, or $1.03 a share, beating by 10 cents the average estimate in a Bloomberg survey. In the year-earlier period, Nike reported earnings of $569.7 million, or $1.12. Sales rose 17 percent to $5.43 billion, Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike said Wednesday.

Revenue in Nike's Asia unit grew 36 percent to $861 million. The Beijing games boosted sales in China, the world's fastest-growing major economy. Nike, which gets more than half its sales outside the U.S., has benefited from the decline of the dollar against foreign currencies.

Nike shares fell $1.56, or 2.6 percent, to $59.27. The stock has dropped 7.7 percent this year.

Bloomberg News

Automotive

U.S. automakers cut their ad spending 18 percent in the second quarter compared with 2007, continuing to spill Detroit's troubles onto Madison Avenue, industry figures released Wednesday show.

Domestic automakers, the single largest category of advertisers, spent $1.37 billion on advertising in the second quarter compared with $1.67 billion in the same quarter a year ago, TNS Media Intelligence in New York said.

Second-quarter spending was 11 percent lower than the most recent quarterly peak of $1.54 billion, which U.S automakers reached in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Foreign automakers also are trimming their spending on advertising in U.S. markets, with a 5.4 percent cut in the second quarter, for an overall 11 percent drop in U.S. auto ad spending, to $3.27 billion.

Associated Press

Airlines

Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines prepared to make their case to shareholders on why they should approve a merger that would create the world's biggest carrier and swallow an 82-year-old company.

Northwest shareholders were set to meet for what could be the last time on this morning in New York to vote on whether to accept Delta's acquisition offer, while Delta shareholders were set to meet this afternoon near Atlanta to vote on whether to issue stock to Northwest shareholders as part of the transaction.

Four shareholder advisory firms have recommended votes in favor of the combination. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers opposes it.

Shareholder approval is highly likely. That would leave U.S. regulatory approval and a pending federal lawsuit seeking to block the deal as the only hurdles. Delta hopes to close the deal by year's end.

Associated Press

Banking

Washington Mutual Inc. had its credit rating cut by Standard & Poor's for the second time in nine days, increasing pressure on the savings and loan to find a buyer. The stock fell 29 percent.

S&P reduced WaMu to CCC from BB-, eight levels below investment grade, saying a sale may not include the entire lender and could leave the holding company with too much debt. WaMu's $143 billion of deposits at 2,300 branches have lured five potential bidders. Its shares tumbled 94 cents to $2.26. B

loomberg News
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