Business Briefs – February 11, 2016

Computer As Driver? ‘Yes’ From Feds Boosts Self-Driving Cars

DETROIT (AP) – Computers that control cars of the future can be considered drivers just like humans, the federal government’s highway safety agency has decided.

The redefinition of “driver” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an important break for Google, which is developing self-driving cars.

While this helps Google, its cars have miles to go before they get on the road in great numbers. The safety agency agreed with Google’s “driver” reinterpretation in a recent letter, but it didn’t allow other concessions and said numerous federal rules would have to be changed to permit the cars.

Tesla’s 4Q Net Loss Doubles

DETROIT (AP) – Tesla Motors posted its 11th straight quarterly loss Wednesday, and its results badly missed Wall Street’s forecasts. But the electric car maker’s shares soared anyway on news that its lower-priced Model 3 sedan is on schedule to be released next year.

Tesla said it will unveil the much-anticipated $35,000 car on March 31 and expects to start production at the end of 2017.

Tesla’s shares had fallen in recent days as investors worried that the Model 3 would be delayed. Investors also weren’t happy with the slow ramp-up of Tesla’s new Model X SUV. The company delivered only 206 SUVs in the fourth quarter and it curtailed production last month to work out some quality issues.

Whole Foods Forecasts Key Sales Figure Could Slip for Year

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Whole Foods Market Inc. says its sales at established locations slipped in its fiscal first quarter, and forecast the figure to be flat to down 2 percent for the year.

The company noted that its comparable store sales have been “particularly difficult to predict” given the competitive environment. Whole Foods has been under pressure as its niche has become increasingly mainstream, with big-box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart devoting more space to organic and other related items.

Mylan to Buy Sweden’s Meda AB for $7.2 Billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Drugmaker Mylan says it will buy Meda AB of Sweden for $7.2 billion in cash and stock, and says the move will help it enter new markets.

Mylan valued the deal at $9.9 billion including Meda’s debt. It said Wednesday Meda’s board and largest shareholders support the sale.

Meda says about 60 percent of its sales come from prescription drugs. Key products include drugs that treat respiratory conditions, skin ailments, and pain and inflammation.

Report: Harmful Gas Levels in Lumber Liquidators Flooring

NEW YORK (AP) – A federal investigation has found that Lumber Liquidators sold Chinese-made flooring that emits hazardous levels of formaldehyde.

The laminate flooring was sold by the national retailer until last May, when the company announced it was halting sales. A long-awaited federal safety review found the flooring gave off enough formaldehyde gas to irritate the eyes, nose and throat of many people. There also was enough gas from the product to trigger breathing problems in people with certain health conditions. The formaldehyde also increased cancer risks by a small amount.

U.S. officials released the analysis Wednesday.