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Best Buy facing flat screen sales; also: UnitedHealth cutting costs, Medtronic spending on lobbying, 3M paying for pollution complaint

Coming soon: big sales on flat-screen TVs! A New York investment bank says the supply and demand of flat-screen TVs isn’t playing in Best Buy‘s favor. Deutsche Bank downgraded the Richfield retailer’s stock to “hold.” Its analyst said stores stocked up on big TVs in preparation for a pre-Olympics run that’s been weaker than expected. That might mean falling prices by the holidays.

UnitedHealth Group’s CEO says the company will focus on innovation in 2008. Oh, yeah, and also cutting costs. The Business Journal reports on Stephen Hemsley’s speech to shareholders at Thursday’s annual meeting. Meanwhile, the Minnetonka HMO unveiled a website redesign this week and also launched another site showcasing the company’s social responsibility efforts.

So that’s what a quarter-million gets you these days: Medtronic spent $260,000 lobbying Washington during the first quarter, Forbes reports. Among the legislation the Fridley company weighed-in on was a bill requiring medical-device makers to disclose gifts to doctors that exceed $25. The medical-device association endorsed the bill last month after the limit was raised to $500.

This is small potatoes for a company accused of contaminating groundwater across the east metro, but 3M has agreed to pay $30,000 for an unrelated air-pollution complaint, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The company was accused of improperly monitoring particulate matter at a Cottage Grove facility. The violation was discovered in 2006 and has since been corrected, the EPA said.

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