Sonic Drive-In tests broccoli cheddar tater tots in Chattanooga

A Sonic drive-in beckons customers in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Sonic tests broccoli cheddar tots here

The Sonic Drive-In restaurant chain is testing out a new menu item over the next month in Chattanooga and Wichita, Kansas - broccoli cheddar tots.

The broccoli cheddar tots pack warm broccoli pieces and melty cheddar cheese in a tot-sized bite, with a crispy coating. As part of the product test through Nov. 29, Sonic is offering a full serving of vegetables for any large order of the broccoli cheddar tots.

"So far, the tots have been performing well in testing," company spokeswoman Daniela Tellechea said. "A twist on a Sonic classic, these 'feel-good tots' don't sacrifice on flavor and taste just like the casserole."

TVA refueling unit at Watts Bar plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority is refueling its newest nuclear reactor after the unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City generated nearly 14.2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity since its last outage.

During the scheduled refueling outage that began this week at the newest Watts Bar unit, TVA plans more than 10,800 work activities, including loading new fuel assemblies, performing inspections of reactor components, maintenance of plant equipment and installing unit enhancements.

Recognizing the safety challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, TVA officials said Watts Bar employees are required to pass health screenings prior to plant entry each day.

"We have a highly-skilled workforce that understood the importance of safe behaviors at a nuclear site even before we added health protection measures for COVID-19," said Tony Williams, Watts Bar site vice president. "Their commitment to following additional health guidelines allowed us to safely complete the Unit 1 refueling outage this spring, and we truly appreciate their continued focus on health and safety as we begin this fall outage."

Watts Bar Unit 2 is one of seven operational TVA nuclear reactors that collectively generate about 40% of TVA's power.

Covenant shrinks fleet, boosts income

Despite a 4.4% drop in revenue from a year ago, Covenant Logistics Group reported third-quarter net income of $7.5 million, or 43 cents per share, after reporting a loss of nearly $3.2 million in the same period a year earlier.

The Chattanooga-based trucking giant said it reduced its tractor fleet by 18% in the past year and profitability improved after Covenant paid down $175.6 million in debt and lease obligations.

"We were pleased with the progress on executing our strategic plan, which is focused on growing our more consistent and profitable freight commitments, improving margins, improving return on capital, and managing leverage at a reasonable level," Covenant Logistics CEO David Parker said.

The truckload transportation services provider posted revenue of $210.8 million in the period.

Delta pilots voting on contract changes

Delta Air Lines pilots are voting on a measure that could reduce furloughs that management has said are imminent unless the two sides can agree on other cost cuts.

The agreement the Air Line Pilots Association at Delta has put up for a vote by its members would allow pilots to volunteer to fly reduced hours, mitigating about 200 of 1,941 furloughs Delta has planned for Nov. 1. The furloughs that have been planned to take effect Sunday include 493 Delta pilots based in Atlanta.

Airlines have been looking for ways to slash costs amid a more than 60% reduction in passenger traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pilots will be voting on the furlough reduction measure through Oct. 31. Delta said there is no further extension to the deadline for pilot furloughs.

However, the pilots union leadership is also meeting this week and expects an update on additional talks with Delta management. The union said any agreement to prevent all furloughs would be separate from the voluntary hours reduction up for a vote now, and it's too soon to tell if such a broader agreement would also be put up for a vote by members.

AMD buys Xilinx for $35 billion

Advanced Micro Devices agreed to pay $35 billion in stock for Xilinx, a deal aimed at reshaping one of the computer chip industry's pioneers.

AMD, known mainly as Intel's longtime rival in microprocessors that power most computers, plans to use the acquisition to broaden its business into chips for markets like 5G wireless communications and automotive electronics. The transaction could also help AMD grab a bigger share of component sales for data centers and counter a prominent rival, Nvidia, which is also bulking up.

The all-stock deal, announced on Tuesday along with AMD's third-quarter financial results, would be close to the most valuable acquisition in the chip industry's history. Those bragging rights are currently held by Nvidia for its proposed $40 billion deal for British chip designer Arm, which was announced last month.

Lisa Su, AMD's chief executive, said in prepared remarks that Xilinx would help establish her company as "the industry's high performance computing leader and partner of choice for the largest and most important technology companies in the world."

Factory orders up during September

Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose a better-than-expected 1.9% in September with a key category that tracks business investment showing a solid gain as well.

The rise in durable goods orders followed a smaller 0.4% increase in August and was the best gain since an 11.8% surge in July, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, a key category that serves as a proxy for business investment spending rose 1% in September after bigger gains in July and August.

The pace of durable goods orders has slowed since an initial burst in demand as the country reopened after the spring shutdown.

Analysts are worried this slowdown could worsen in coming months as virus cases surge again and the boost from government stimulus fades following the failure of Congress to quickly renew support programs.

- Compiled by Dave Flessner