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General Mills Inc., which operates a breakfast cereal plant and flour mill in Buffalo, reported that strong sales of Cheerios, Wheaties and Kix and improvement in international sales helped boost earnings 9 percent in its first fiscal quarter. The company earned $158.5 million, or $1.01 a share, for the quarter ended Aug. 29, compared with $145.0 million, or 92 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose 7 percent to $1.57 billion, from $1.47 billion. General Mills said market share for Big G cereals grew to more than 26 percent in the quarter in volume terms and to 32 percent in dollars, spurred by strong sales of its established brands plus the company's new Honey Nut Chex, NesQuik and Sunrise cereals. Yoplait and Colombo yogurt captured 33 percent of the market during the quarter, up 4 points. Sales of Pop Secret popcorn, Nature Valley granola bars and fruit snacks also were up, but those gains were offset by weak performance of Bugles and other snack bars, leaving total snacks sales volume below last year's first quarter. Despite weakness in the Russian market, General Mills said international earnings grew at a double-digit rate.

FDX Corp., the parent of Federal Express, reported disappointing results for its just-ended quarter and warned of possible weakness in the current quarter. The package delivery company earned $159 million, or 52 cents a share, during the company's first quarter ended Aug. 31. In the same three-month period last year, FDX earned $149 million, or 50 cents a share. Revenues rose to $4.3 billion in the latest quarter, improving from $4.1 billion a year earlier, while operating income remained level at $284 million.

Nike reported Thursday its earnings were up 22 percent for its first quarter in fiscal 2000, but revenue remained flat for the world's largest maker of athletic shoes and clothing. The company posted a profit of $200 million, or 70 cents a share, compared with $164 million, or 56 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales were stuck at $2.5 billion, the same level as the first quarter of 1999. Future orders for delivery between September 1999 and January 2000 were up 2 percent to $3.2 billion from the first quarter of 1999, but domestic orders were down 7 percent. Orders in Europe, a traditionally strong sales area for Nike, were up 15 percent while Asia jumped 37 percent.

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