Business

Business Digest

Apparel

Hanesbrands says restructuring charges helped drive its third-quarter profit down 59 percent, but adjusted earnings beat Wall Street expectations.

The Winston-Salem-based apparel maker says profit for the three months ended Sept. 27 fell to $15.9 million, or 17 cents per share, from $38.9 million, or 40 cents, last year. Excluding one-time charges, profit totaled 56 cents per share.

Revenue was flat at $1.15 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected profit of 54 cents on revenue of $1.12 billion.

The company says sales of Hanes underwear and Champion activewear were strong but sheer hosiery sales declined as consumers pulled back on some spending. Hanesbrands Inc. will raise domestic prices in the first quarter of 2009 by about 4 percent to offset higher cotton and other commodity costs. Associated Press

Economy

Orders for U.S. durable goods, excluding cars and aircraft, fell for a second straight month in September as the credit freeze and a slump in sales caused businesses to cut back on investment.

The 1.1 percent drop in bookings of goods meant to last several years was less than forecast and followed a 4.1 percent decrease in August. A rebound in aircraft orders, a volatile category, and an increase in defense bookings unexpectedly pushed total orders up 0.8 percent.

The slump in manufacturing worsened in October as financing dried up, according to regional factory surveys. That suggests declines in investment spending will contribute to a contraction in the U.S. economy for the second straight quarter. Economists estimate a government report today will show gross domestic product shrank in the July-through-September period. Bloomberg News

Autos

GMAC LLC, the money-losing auto finance and home-loan lender, is seeking to become a bank holding company after gaining access to the Federal Reserve's new program designed to unlock short-term commercial credit markets.

The Fed began buying commercial paper from companies this week to reduce interest rates and lure investors back to the market for short-term debt, which seized up last month following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Detroit-based GMAC said yesterday it was approved to participate in that program.

Becoming a bank holding company would make it easier for GMAC, the primary lender to customers of General Motors Corp., to participate in the Treasury Department's banking-industry rescue and quell doubts about the lender's survival. The firm could also get direct loans from the central bank and temporary debt guarantees from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Bloomberg News

Airlines

Delta Air Lines Inc. completed its all-stock purchase of Northwest Airlines Corp., becoming the world's largest carrier, after winning U.S. approval to combine.

Integration of the carriers will continue into 2010, Delta said Wednesday. The new airline will keep Delta's name and Atlanta headquarters.

The combination of Delta, the third-biggest U.S. airline by traffic, and No. 6 Northwest will take the top global spot from AMR Corp.'s American Airlines. Delta Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson will run the new carrier.

Delta agreed to buy Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest in April in an all-stock deal, and their shareholders endorsed the plan in September. The new Delta will have $35 billion in annual sales and 75,000 employees, and deliver $2 billion in new revenue and cost savings, the airlines have said.

The transaction was valued at $2.63 billion, based on Wednesday's closing stock prices. The deal was completed just hours after the Justice Department said it would not oppose the merger on antitrust grounds. Bloomberg News

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