Business news in brief

Posted: January 24, 2013

In the Region

InvestorForce sold for $23.5M

ICG Group Inc., the Radnor investment firm, said it sold investment software company Investor Force Holdings Inc., Wayne, to investment index manager MSCI Inc. for $23.5 million. That's less than half the $52 million that InvestorForce raised from investors including the California state pension plan, Merrill Lynch, Mellon Bank, and Thomas Weisel Partners back in 2000, during the Internet bubble. InvestorForce's staff of more than 100 helps administer $3.5 trillion in pension and other institutional investment plans, the company said. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Survey: Business leaders downbeat

Philadelphia- and Allentown-area business leaders have turned pessimistic about sales and profit prospects, according to a survey that polled 251 in Philadelphia, suburban counties and the Allentown-Bethlehem area for First Niagara Bank. Only 30 percent said the economy will improve this year, down from 42 percent last year. A full 32 percent now say the economy will get worse this year, vs. 16 percent last year. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Toll to develop ritzy college dorms

Toll Brothers Inc., the largest U.S. luxury-home builder, is beginning development of high-end college dormitories, according to chief executive officer Douglas Yearley Jr. The dorms will be off campus, starting at two East Coast universities that the company will identify later. The buildings won't be affiliated with the schools, giving Horsham-based Toll greater control of the properties, such as managing the rent, Yearley said. Shares rose 75 cents to $37.06. - Bloomberg News

Pa. extends EV rebates

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is making $1.5 million more in grants available to buyers of electric vehicles. The DEP announced that once it reaches its milestone of awarding 500 $3,500 rebates for some plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles, it will extend the program by offering rebates up to $3,000 to buyers of the next 500 EVs. Buyers of popular models such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus and Chevy Volt are eligible for the largest rebate amount. - Andrew Maykuth

PolyMedix may consider sale

PolyMedix Inc., a Radnor biotechnology company, said it has engaged Canaccord Genuity Inc. as its financial advisor to review strategic and financial alternatives, including product licensing or a potential sale of the company. The company said that cash and investment balances are not sufficient to fund new clinical trials and that it has implemented a plan to reduce costs and resulting cash outflows, including scaling back operations, personnel reductions, and deferrals and reductions in compensation. Shares, which trade over the counter and have moved in a 52-week range of 6 cents to $1.50, closed unchanged at 17 cents. - Reid Kanaley

Auxilium to offer $200M in notes

Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Chesterbrook, said it intends to offer $200 million in convertible senior notes due 2018. The notes are expected to pay interest semi-annually and be convertible into shares of common stock, cash or a combination thereof at Auxilium's election. The company intends to use proceeds to pay the cost of note hedge transactions and for general corporate purposes. - Inquirer staff

Shake Shack to add University City

Shake Shack - the burger chain that opened last summer at 20th and Sansom Streets - is opening in University City at 3200 Chestnut St. in late summer or early fall, a spokesman confirmed. Shake Shack, part of Union Square Hospitality Group, will join another New York-rooted operation at the Drexel University location, Joe Coffee Bar. - Michael Klein



McDonald's profit edges up

McDonald's Corp. profit edged up in the fourth quarter after some moves to boost slumping sales, including touting its Dollar Menu and pushing franchisees to stay open on Christmas. Executives don't expect 2013 to be an easy year but say the company has a robust pipeline of new menu items. In January, however, McDonald's said it expects a key sales figure to drop. McDonald's also is facing intensifying competition from such traditional rivals as Burger King and Wendy's, as well as newer competitors Chipotle and Panera. Shares inched up 53 cents to $93.48. - AP

Netflix wards off competition

Netflix Inc.'s Internet video service warded off stiffer competition to add two million U.S. subscribers during the final three months of the year to produce an unexpected profit for the company. The fourth-quarter performance announced Wednesday validates investors' recent confidence in Netflix, whose volatile stock had surged by more than 30 percent since early December. The stock soared $34.49 more, or 33 percent, to $137.75 in extended trading after the numbers came out. - AP

Computer intrusion case detailed

Authorities say the inventor of a computer virus that infiltrated a million computers worldwide and opened the door for the theft of at least $50 million has pleaded guilty to federal charges in New York. A federal prosecutor told a news conference that Nikita Kuzmin entered the plea to computer intrusion and fraud charges in May 2011. The prosecutor, Preet Bharara, says the Russian man created the Gozi virus in 2005 that was used to gain access to NASA computers last summer. He says Kuzmin's plea was followed by the arrest in November of a co-conspirator in Latvia and another in Romania last month. Extradition proceedings are underway against both. Authorities say the virus was used to infect at least 40,000 computers in the United States. - AP


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