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UnitedHealth slimming its Hartford workforce; also: possible good news for Medtronic, and competitor matches General Mills’ shrinking cereal

UnitedHealth Care is expected to announce today about 20 job cuts in Hartford, Conn., where the Minnetonka HMO employs about 4,000 people. That’s according to the Hartford Courant newspaper, which reports that employees there fear more cuts will follow, despite the company’s assurances that it doesn’t plan large layoffs. CEO Stephen Hemsley told investors earlier this month that innovation and cost-cutting would both be priorities this year. One employee said morale in Hartford is “awful” and that they haven’t been able to “eat, sleep, nothing.”

A rival medical-device-maker’s struggles might be good news for Fridley-based Medtronic. Forbes.com reports that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Cordis is dealing with significant upper-management turnover at a time when demand for its drug-coated stents appears to be falling off some. Analyst Larry Biegelsen said “this could be an opportunity for some of the group’s competitors, specifically Medtronic, Abbott Laboratories, and Boston Scientific, to make further strides.”

Odds are you didn’t notice last summer, when General Mills shrank the size — but not the price — of your box of Cheerios. Now, Kellogg says it’s matching General Mills’ move and will start selling less cereal for the same price.

Cereal makers aren’t the only ones opting to shrink products, instead of raising prices. Meanwhile, the last time I checked, you could still get those dog-food-size bags of Marshmallow Mateys or Honey Nut Scooters for a bargain.

Do you have an inside scoop or news tip about a Minnesota company? Spotted something interesting in your RSS reader? Drop Business Agenda a note at dhaugen [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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