Snack sales, success abroad rev up General Mills quarter

General Mills Inc.’s net income rose 18 percent in the fiscal third quarter, driven by the sale of more snacks and strength abroad.

The maker of Nature Valley snack bars and Cheerios cereal has started to raise prices for some of its products over the past few months to cope with rising ingredient costs. It expects price increases will accelerate during the current fiscal fourth quarter.

Chairman and CEO Ken Powell anticipates that quarter will include the “highest earnings growth of the year.” That expectation led the food company to maintain its 2011 earnings and revenue outlooks Wednesday. 

Car hauler told to protect 1,700 ‘hostage’ GM cars

A car-hauling company accused of keeping 1,700 General Motors vehicles as hostages has been ordered not to damage, destroy or conceal them.

GM is suing Atlanta-based Allied Systems, claiming cars and pickup trucks are being illegally stored, mostly in Dearborn, Mich. GM says Allied had been in a labor dispute with drivers and wants the automaker to pay more for its services.

Federal Judge Marianne Battani on Tuesday ordered Allied to protect the vehicles. She scheduled a hearing for March 29. A message seeking comment Wednesday was left with Allied Systems President Mark Gendregske.

GM says the vehicles are worth $47 million and some already have been purchased. 

FedEx, pilots union reach deal with 3% pay raise

FedEx and the Air Line Pilots Association say they approved a labor agreement that includes a 3 percent pay raise.

The association approved the agreement in balloting that ended early Wednesday.

The pilots also reportedly receive lump sum payments, new safety programs and expanded foreign duty assignment rules. 

Caterpillar affirms outlook, sees good times ahead

Caterpillar is affirming its 2011 profit outlook and offering a rosy forecast for the years ahead because growth in the world’s population and expansion of its cities will create demand for its mining and construction equipment.

Company officials sounded optimistic Wednesday as they met with analysts at the ConExpo-ConAgg trade show for the construction industry in Las Vegas. 

Shareholders re-elect Jobs to Walt Disney Co. board

Walt Disney Co. shareholders returned Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs to the entertainment company’s board of directors, despite questions raised about whether his health would hamper his ability to serve. Jobs was re-elected, along with 12 other directors.

The shareholders also rejected a proposal that would have ended the practice of allowing Disney’s board to administer a retest to determine whether senior executives qualify to receive stock bonuses.

Income drops, stock rises for Micron Technology

Micron Technology Inc., which makes computer memory chips, posted a big decline in quarterly net income as it struggled with falling prices for its chips, a perpetual problem for its industry, but the results were still stronger than Wall Street expected. Its stock rose in extended trading following the release of the earnings report. The company said it expects improved pricing through the remainder of its fiscal year. 

Vote favors selling AirTran to Southwest for $1.4 billion

AirTran Airways shareholders voted Wednesday to sell the discount airline to bigger rival Southwest for $1.4 billion. The deal would give Southwest Airlines Co. a foothold in Atlanta — the largest U.S. city it doesn’t already serve — and routes to Mexico and the Caribbean.

AirTran Holdings Inc. said more than 98.6 percent of votes cast and 77.5 percent of all shares were voted for the sale.

Southwest still needs approval from federal antitrust regulators before it can close the deal, which it expects to do in the next three months.