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Online coupons become business driver when money is tight

BY Jenna Duncan

DADE CITY, Fla. The bad economy means good business for online coupon exposure, the St. Petersburg Times reported this week.

Many businesses are now using the power of the Internet coupon to attract more shoppers to their markets. Sources said that last year 2.6-billion coupons were used by American shoppers. The surge marks the first time in almost two decades that there was not a decline in coupon use.

Hits at various coupon Web sites have increased 66 percent in May compared to the same time last year, said HitWise online-competition research group. Yet Web-based coupon-ing remains a small industry—of the 279-billion coupons issued last year, only 0.2 percent were sent out online.

The biggest online coupon company, Invenda, operator of E-centives.com, has never turned a profit. In fact, as of the beginning of the year, the company faced a deficit of $162-million.

However, The Coupon Clippers, a coupon mailing that has turned into profitable online business, told the Times that it has recently been signing up customers by the thousands. According to the article, The Coupon Clippers’ sales have grown by about 25 percent in the last 12 months. The Coupon Clipper first launched its online presence in 1998.

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CDC reports no change in percentage of teen smokers

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON As states lose money for fighting teenage smoking and tobacco companies find ways to get new smokers to light up, anti-smoking efforts have stalled over the last five years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that smoking among teenagers aged 14 to 18 remained at 22 percent between 2003 and 2007. At the same time, however, the percentage of teenagers trying smoking for the first time declined by 20 percent from 1999’s 70 percent.

In 1999, 16.8 percent of teenage smokers said they smoked 20 cigarettes or more over the course of a month; in the 2003-2007 period, that number had declined to 8 percent.

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BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO Del Monte Foods is selling its seafood business to a Korean holding company that specializes in canned tuna, Del Monte announced Sunday.

In a deal worth $363 million, Del Monte will sell its seafood division to Dongwon Enterprise, based in Seoul.

“The divestiture of our seafood business, including StarKist, is a significant step in the realignment of our portfolio toward higher margin, higher growth businesses,” said Rick Wolford, Del Monte’s chairman and chief executive officer.

The deal also includes Del Monte’s factories in American Samoa and Manta, Ecuador, as well as assets related to the StarKist brand in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Terminal Island, Calif.

“We believe that the acquisition of StarKist seafood will help Dongwon establish a strong foothold and penetration in the U.S. market as we look to drive Dongwon’s initiatives for globalization,” said Park In-gu, Dongwon Enterprise’s vice chairman.

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