Market Minute: Smith & Wesson Earnings Shoot Up; Heineken Has a Flashy Idea


A gunmaker's profit shoots higher, and sluggish beer demand inspires innovation. Those and more are what's making business news Wednesday.

The Dow industrials (^DJI) recovered 100 points Tuesday, after several days of heavy selling. The S&P 500 (^GPSC) gained nearly 15 points and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) rose 27.

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Richard Drew/AP

Smith & Wesson (SWHC) says its quarterly earnings more than doubled from a year ago. Demand for firearms soared as the debate over gun control heated up following the shooting in Newtown, Conn., last year. Even though the gunmaker has expanded production, it says it can't keep up with demand.

But demand for beer has gone flat -- so beer-makers are going high tech. According to The Wall Street Journal, Heineken is developing a bottle that produces a strobe light effect as it's consumed, lights up when clicked with another bottle and flashes to the beat of music. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), SAB Miller and other brewers are also working on some tech gimmicks to encourage social drinking.

Lorillard (LO) has won federal approval to sell two new cigarette brands -- new versions of non-menthol Newport. It's the first approval by the Food & Drug Administration since it was given the authority to do so in 2009. The FDA also turned down four other applications for new cigarettes.

Microsoft (MSFT) today offers a glimpse at Windows 8.1. The free update aims to fix some of the glitches and complaints about the original version of the operating system introduced eight months ago.

General Mills (GIS) quarterly earnings met expectations, but the food maker's outlook for the rest of the year was a bit disappointing.

The for-profit education firm Apollo Group (APOL) posted a 40 percent earnings decline, as enrollment fell. But the parent of the University of Phoenix did raise its outlook for the full year.

And oil giant BP (BP) has placed full page ads in several leading newspapers as it challenges some of the potential payouts in the wake of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company says it's trying to avoid payouts to businesses that didn't suffer any spill-related losses.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg