Originally created 02/19/03

Business briefs



TAX TIPS

Loan points

If you refinanced your home in 2002, you may be eligible to deduct any "points" associated with the loan. In most cases, points must be deducted over the life of the loan. The interest deduction is determined by dividing the points paid by the number of payments to be made over the life of the loan. This information is usually available from lenders. For more tax tips, go to www.augustachronicle.com/taxtips.

Farmers say Vidalias survived cold January

REIDSVILLE, Ga. - Georgia's multimillion-dollar Vidalia onion crop appears to have escaped last month's hard freeze largely unscathed, growers said this week.

"There was only slight damage ... a few leaves got burnt by the cold. But it didn't really damage the crop," said Michael Hively, the general manager for Bland Farms, the state's largest single producer.

An estimated 90 percent of the Vidalia crop had been planted when an arctic cold front dropped temperatures below freezing across the state in late January.

Wal-Mart profits surpass expectations

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 16.3 percent, beating analysts expectations.

Wal-Mart earned $2.53 billion, or 57 cents per share, for the three months ending Jan. 31, compared to $2.19 billion, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call forecast earnings of 56 cents per share. Sales for the quarter were $71.07 billion, up 10.7 percent from $64.2 billion a year earlier.

General Mills raises cereal cost 2 percent

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - General Mills Inc. has raised the price it charges wholesalers for its cold cereals by 2 percent.

Chief Executive Steve Sanger said that the price increase for Cheerios, Wheaties, Chex and other cereals was based on the rising cost of wheat, cocoa and energy.

Rival Kellogg Co. recently introduced a similar price increase.

General Mills' cereal sales are up 2 percent this year. Mr. Sanger said most future growth will come from consumers older than 55, a group motivated by dietary concerns and convenience.



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