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BUSINESS TODAY

CHECKERS STOCK FALLS: Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. saw its stock price fall 21 percent Tuesday, or $1.97, to $7.55. The selloff took place one day after the Tampa burger chain reported a 243 percent increase in quarterly earnings but a 4.3 percent reduction in same-store sales. Spokeswoman Kim Francis said Checkers officials could not explain the drop. "There was no company news that would've precipitated this."

DRUGMAX ADDS BOARD MEMBER: DrugMax Inc. of Largo has added Robert Loughrey to its board. Loughrey is former senior vice president and manager of Mellon Business Credit Inc., which was acquired last year by LaSalle Business Credit Inc. Loughrey joins a seven-person board at the wholesale drug company that includes three company officers and the former U.S. ambassador to Spain, Joseph Zappala.

PALM, IBM AGREE TO DEAL: In a move to challenge Microsoft Corp., Palm Inc. is teaming up with IBM Corp. to jointly develop mobile applications for business users. The two companies will develop software programs, such as secure e-mail and IBM's Sametime instant messaging application, in the next version of IBM's WebSphere Everywhere Access business platform that will work specifically on Palm handheld devices. The product is slated for release this fall.

CHINA ON THE NET: Surging Internet usage has made China the No. 3 user of the Internet in the world, a new report asserts, with more than 45-million citizens now logging on regularly even as the government struggles to control subversive content. The figures marked a 72 percent rise over last year. Only the United States and Japan have more citizens connected to the Internet.

ZELL TRUST TO BUY COMMUNITIES: A real estate investment trust headed by billionaire Sam Zell will pay about $89-million to buy nine communities for senior citizens, including seven in Florida, executives at Manufactured Home Communities Inc. said Tuesday. The Chicago company is buying 1,735 manufactured home sites and 1,632 recreational vehicle sites in Florida and Arizona from Diversified Investments LLC. Executives would not disclose the location of the Florida sites because the deal has not been finalized. In turn, Manufactured Home will sell a 319-site family community in Burnsville, Minn., to Diversified for about $14-million. Manufactured Home currently owns property in Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo, Plant City, New Port Richey and Bradenton.

TREASURY AUCTION: The interest rate on the U.S. Treasury's four-week bills was unchanged for the second week at the government's auction. The Treasury sold $20-billion of the bills at a discount rate of 1.695 percent. The government received bids for the bills equal to 2.36 times the amount sold, down from 2.54 at the last auction, a sign of weaker demand.

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