Dunkin’ Brands expanding doughnut chain in Europe

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., which reported flat earnings on Wednesday after becoming a public company a week earlier, said it plans to rejuvenate the struggling Baskin-Robbins brand in the United States and expand its Dunkin’ Donuts chain in Europe.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ U.S. revenue grew 6.3 percent over the year, helped by the success of new stores. But the U.S. division of Baskin-Robbins, hurt by rising dairy costs, was the only unit to lose revenue over the year, with a decrease of nearly 6 percent.

Nigel Travis, who’s been CEO since early 2009, told analysts on Wednesday that he largely had been focusing on the Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. brand, which makes up about 70 percent of the company’s revenue. 

MasterCard income rises; card use surges in July

U.S. shoppers kept on using their MasterCards in July even as uncertainty about the economy increased.

Spending with credit and debit cards bearing the company’s logo rose about 12 percent in the United States compared with July 2010, CFO Martina Hund-Mejean said Wednesday.

About 2 points of that increase came from gasoline prices, which averaged about $1 per gallon higher than a year ago.

The payment processing company said net income rose 33 percent to $608 million, or $4.76 per share, for the three months ended June 30. That was up from $458 million, or $3.49 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue rose 22 percent to $1.67 billion from $1.37 billion a year ago. 

Time Warner profits climb, but stock ends day lower

Time Warner Inc.’s second-quarter net income increased 14 percent as the media giant recorded its fastest revenue growth in nearly four years. But its stock fell because of concerns about the economy and a conservative profit outlook despite the blowout success of the final “Harry Potter” movie.

The stock fell 43 cents, or 1.3 percent, to close at $33.57 Wednesday.

Time Warner said that net income for the three months that ended in June grew to $638 million, or 59 cents per share, from $562 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding special items, earnings were 60 cents per share, above the 55 cents per share that analysts polled by FactSet had expected.

Revenue grew 10 percent to $7.03 billion from $6.38 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $6.81 billion. 

Christie Hefner’s husband settles insider trading case

As chief executive of Playboy Enterprises, Christie Hefner was so concerned about the risks of her husband, William Marovitz, buying or selling any Playboy stock that she asked Playboy’s general counsel to talk to him, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Apparently, Marovitz didn’t take the warning to heart.

The SEC charged him with insider trading Wednesday, alleging that he used confidential information “misappropriated” from his wife to reap profits or avoid losses of $100,952.

Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Marovitz, 66, settled the case by agreeing to pay $168,352, the SEC said. The deal is subject to court approval. 

Oil prices hit five-week low on U.S. economic news

Oil fell to its lowest level in five weeks on Wednesday as more signs of a slowing U.S. economy raised concerns about demand for everything from gasoline to natural gas used to cool homes.

Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude dropped $1.86 to settle at $91.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

“Traders are fixated on a weakening economy and all the talk of austerity seems to be driving home a message of lower consumption,” energy consultant Cameron Hanover wrote in a note to clients. 

— From news service reports