Business

The Buzz On Business

OLD FAITHFUL PICKUP ABOUT TO HIT 1 MILLION MILES: Frank Oresnik is on the verge of making history driving his old standby -- the pickup he says is about to pass the 1 million mile mark. Oresnik's 1991 Chevrolet Silverado is 1,200 miles from a million, and once he hits the mark he will retire it. He credits proper maintenance and a good measure of luck for allowing the truck to rack up so many miles. He said he's had more than 300 oil changes and tuneups at the Oil Ex-Change Quick Lube in Medford, Wis., going in every 3,000 miles. The truck has had four radiators, three gas tanks, five transmissions and six water pumps, but the engine has never been overhauled, Oresnik said. He bought the Silverado in June 1996 after the original owner put 41,000 miles on it.

GM SURVIVES JANUARY SALES DOWNTURN: Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. all reported sales declines in January to start what industry analysts have predicted will be the worst U.S. auto sales year in more than a decade. But General Motors Corp., led by strong crossover vehicle sales, reported an increase of 2.6 percent in January compared with the same month last year. Toyota, which had seen strong growth last year, said Friday its January light vehicle sales dropped 2.3 percent, to 171,849 in January from a strong 175,850 in January 2006. Its performance still was strong enough to beat Ford for the No. 2 U.S. sales spot. Chrysler LLC saw its U.S. sales drop 12.1 percent as the company tried to cut fleet sales. Chrysler's car sales were up more than 25 percent year over year, but truck sales dropped 23.5 percent. Nissan sales dipped 7.3 percent for January when compared with the same month a year ago. Honda sales fell 2.3 percent, from 100,790 in January 2007 to 98,511 last month.

FORMER WAL-MART EXEC RESENTENCED: A former Wal-Mart executive avoided a prison term Friday when a federal judge resentenced him for tax evasion and fraud convictions. The judge added only 1,500 hours of community service to Tom Coughlin's punishment. In 2006, U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson had sentenced Coughlin to 27 months of home detention, five years' probation, a $50,000 fine and $400,000 restitution. Based on an appeal by federal prosecutors, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year said the sentence was too lenient and sent the case back to Dawson. During the resentencing, the judge said Coughlin, 58, had a history of community service, no criminal record and has medical problems. Formerly the No. 2 executive at Wal-Mart, Coughlin was accused of stealing gift cards and other items valued by Wal-Mart at about $500,000. In January 2006, Coughlin pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion. He had faced a sentence of more than 28 years in prison and fines up to about $1.35 million.

AMAZON EXPANDS FROM BOOKS AND MUSIC TO WEB SERVICES: Critics thought it was over the top when Amazon.com Inc. expanded from books into music in 1998. When the Web retailer let competitors start selling things alongside its own inventory in 2000, they said Amazon had gone nuts. In both cases, Amazon proved them wrong. Media sales now total in the billions each quarter, and third-party merchandise, more profitable for Amazon than its own wares, makes up nearly a third of everything sold through the site. Now, Amazon is making an even greater stretch -- selling storage, computing power and other behind-the-scenes data center services. The venture, which Amazon expects will grow into a significant business segment, could help keep the company strong if retailers get hit by an economic downturn. Amazon Web Services, as the business is called, could improve chances for a new generation of Web startups by slashing how much they spend upfront on costly services.

BEE NEWS SERVICES

Figuratively Speaking

47: Percentage of U.S. senior executives who said baby boomer retirements will be the trend that most significantly alters the work force in the next decade, according to a survey by Robert Half International.

31: Percentage who cited global business interactions as the trend that most significantly alters the work force in the next decade.

11: Percentage who said outsourcing.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5: Ranks of Johnny Depp, Will Smith, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Denzel Washington on the list of top moneymaking stars of 2007, according to the Quigley Publishing Co.'s 76th annual poll.

JOHN MacINTYRE,

UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

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