Money Minute: Can iPads Improve Service at Panera?


Panera Bread is trying to speed up ordering and service at its restaurants.

Panera (PNRA) is installing Apple (AAPL) iPads at kiosks in its stores to allow guests to place their own orders. Customers can also put a table number on the order to have their food delivered. Panera hopes that will eliminate some of the bottlenecks in getting your food.

General Mills (GIS), the maker Cheerios and other well-known food brands, is taking preemptive steps to block lawsuits against the company.
According to The New York Times, the company has added language to its website telling customers they give up the right to sue if they download coupons, enter company-sponsored sweepstakes, or join its online communities such as Facebook (FB). Instead, you automatically agree to settle any disputes through an arbitration process. One attorney says this protects the company from all accountability.

Florida will soon become the 21st state to collect sales taxes on goods bought on (AMZN). That means about 60 percent of the U.S. population will be subject to sales taxes on their purchases. Up next is Maryland, which will impose a sales tax later this year.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 162 points Wednesday, bringing the this week's gain to nearly 400 points, the Dow's best three day run in four months. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 19 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 52 points.

It's one of the busiest days of the earnings season, with dozens of leading companies posting their quarterly report cards. Among stocks to watch: General Electric (GE), Goldman Sachs (GS) and PepsiCo (PEP), along with IBM (IBM) and Google (GOOG), which reported Wednesday night.

Finally, the Milwaukee Bucks are the worst team in the NBA this season, but they're still worth $550 million. That's the reported sale price for former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, who bought the team in 1985 for $18 million. The sale, to a pair of hedge fund billionaires, requires that they keep the team in Milwaukee.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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