Roundup: Airline delay statistics don't include 24% of U.S. flights; more

Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

24% of flights not used in delay statistics

Airline delays and cancellations have dropped significantly in the last few years. At least that's what federal statistics show. But the numbers may not be telling us the whole story.

That is one of the conclusions in a report by the office of inspector general for the Department of Transportation, which recommends new ways of calculating airline delays.

The Department of Transportation's data say that airline delays fell by 33 percent from 2000 to 2012, while flight cancellations dropped by 56 percent at the nation's largest airports.

The problem with the numbers, according to the inspector general, is that the Department of Transportation only looks at flight data from the 16 largest airlines. Those airlines account for about 76 percent of domestic flights. The other 24 percent are not calculated in the federal analysis. Another reason the numbers don't give an exact picture, the report says, is that most major airlines have increased their scheduled gate-to-gate time for nearly every flight, giving themselves a cushion to absorb delays.

High price for ultra-high-definition TV

Samsung has priced its new 110-inch ultra-high-definition television at $152,000.

The TV, which has four times the resolution of standard high-def TVs, is available in South Korea, China and the Middle East, according to the Associated Press. As larger TVs become more popular, television manufacturers have been racing to make sets that are not only bigger, but sharper. Picture quality tends to decrease as screen size grows, forcing viewers to move farther away in order to get an ideal view. Although ultra-HD has superior picture quality, the TVs suffer from a lack of content and extremely high prices. Nonetheless, ultra-HD TVs and OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs have been receiving a lot of buzz in recent years and have been heralded as the future of television.

Buffett's firm to buy Phillips 66 unit

Warren Buffett's company has agreed to trade about $1.4 billion of its stock in Phillips 66 for one of the refiner's chemical businesses. Houston-based Phillips 66 said on Monday that Berkshire Hathaway will give up about 19 million of its 27.2 million Phillips 66 shares to acquire a business that makes additives that help crude oil flow through pipelines. The number of shares will be determined by the price of the Houston-based company's stock when the deal closes. That's expected to happen in the first half of 2014. Buffett says the business Berkshire is acquiring delivers consistently strong financial performance. He says Berkshire's Ohio-based specialty chemical maker, Lubrizol, will oversee the unit's strategic direction.

Phillips 66's stock closed at $74.72 on Monday.

Cracker Barrel not considering sale

Cracker Barrel says it won't consider selling itself, rejecting a push from its biggest shareholder. The company said on Monday that it will continue pursuing its business strategies. Last week, shareholder Sardar Biglari said he was willing to make a bid for the company and urged it to consider selling itself. Biglari, through his investment firm Biglari Holdings, owns nearly 20 percent of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.'s shares. He has tried and failed multiple times to win a seat on the board. Shareholders recently rejected his proposal for a $20-per-share special dividend. Shares of Cracker Barrel lost $1.06 to $110.20 on Monday. The stock is up 72 percent in 2013.

Facebook leads, but use by young slows

This is not your father's Facebook. It's your grandfather's. New data from the Pew Center for Internet and American Life released on Monday show that Facebook's strongest growth during the past year has come from users older than 65, as more older users sign onto the site to keep in touch with their friends, children and grandchildren. The survey found that 45 percent of American seniors who use the Internet are on Facebook, up from 35 percent the previous year.

Use among teens, however, has stagnated at 84 percent. That's in keeping with growing concern that Facebook is seeing lower engagement with the younger users that drove its early popularity, something that the company has acknowledged itself in an earnings call this year.

Facebook may be a victim of its own success after nearly 10 years as the country's leading social network, Pew senior researcher Aaron Smith said.

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