* Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. reported a 32% rise in fourth-quarter earnings to $11.3 million, or 52 cents a share, but the apparel retailer said it expects profit to fall well short of analysts’ forecasts for the current year. Revenue increased 17% to $110 million. The company said it expects to earn $1.85 a share in 2001, rather than the $2.17-a-share average estimate of analysts polled by First Call, blaming a difficult retailing environment amid a slowing U.S. economy.
* Campbell Soup Co. said it hired two consumer products veterans to fill new positions aimed at reviving soup sales. Larry McWilliams, the 44-year-old former head of sales at Coca-Cola Co.'s Minute Maid unit, was named chief customer officer. Patrick O’Malley, 51, who headed operations at Nabisco Inc.'s Nabisco Foods division, will oversee the global supply chain. Both will report directly to Chief Executive Douglas Conant, who was hired last month.
* 7-Eleven Inc. said it signed a seven-year contract with First Data Corp.'s Western Union Financial Services Inc. unit to offer Western Union money orders and transfers at its 7-Eleven convenience stores across the U.S. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
* Irwin Toy Ltd., Canada’s largest toy maker, said it’s in talks with a private party about a possible takeover. A spokesman said the company, best known for such classic toys as Slinky and Etch-a-Sketch, would make no other comment.
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