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Briefs

WellPoint shares soar with profits

Shares of WellPoint Inc. hit an all-time high Wednesday, after the nation’s second-largest health insurer trounced second-quarter earnings expectations and detailed how it expects to benefit from the health care overhaul and other growth opportunities.

The Indianapolis company’s stock had already climbed 44 percent this year as of Tuesday.

WellPoint said Wednesday that it earned $800.1 million, or $2.64 a share, in the three months that ended June 30. That is an increase of about 24 percent from $643.6 million, or $1.94 a share, a year ago.

Operating revenue soared 16 percent to $17.6 billion, and adjusted earnings were $2.60 a share. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of $2.08 a share.

Soda giants see less fizz in sales

It seems that not even Beyonce or new, lower-calorie options can convince Americans to drink more soda.

Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. all sold less soda in the second quarter in North America, dashing hopes for the moment that splashy new marketing and different sweetener mixes could get drinkers back.

Coca-Cola Co. said it sold 4 percent less soda in North America, while PepsiCo simply said its decline for the region was in the “mid-single digits.” Dr Pepper sold 3 percent less of the fizzy drinks.

According to the industry tracker Beverage Digest, per capita soda consumption in the U.S. has been slipping steadily since 1998 amid concerns that sugary drinks fuel weight gain. Also, people now have many more drink choices.

Wonderbra maker to buy Maidenform

It’s the perfect fit. Two of the world’s top bra makers are coming together in the biggest development in the $11.5 billion underwear industry in years.

Hanesbrands, which makes the Wonderbra, said Tuesday that it agreed to buy bra and underwear company Maidenform Brands Inc. for about $547 million. The deal would add brands like Maidenform, Flexees and Self Expressions to the Hanesbrand roster that includes Playtex, Bali, Champion, Wonderbra and its namesake Hanes.

The merger comes as traditional bra and underwear makers are facing tough competition from specialty stores such as Victoria’s Secret that focus on frilly designs and newer rivals like Spanx that make shapewear that promises to smooth bulges.

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