Business news in brief

Posted: January 31, 2013

In the Region

December unemployment up here

While unemployment generally fell in most of the nation's metropolitan areas, it rose in the Philadelphia area to 8.4 percent in December, up from 8 percent in November, the U.S. Labor Department reported. In Philadelphia and surrounding Pennsylvania counties, the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent, up from 7.7 percent in November. In the Camden, Gloucester and Burlington County area, unemployment increased to 9.8 percent, from 9.4 percent in November. The remaining areas, including Wilmington, rose to 7.3 percent, from 6.7 percent. In December, the national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Perlmans give $1.65M to Wharton

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania said it received a $1.65 million gift from philanthropists Ellen Hanson Perlman and Richard E. Perlman to name the Perlman Prize for entrepreneurship, which will be awarded through the annual Wharton Business Plan Competition. The inaugural $45,000 Perlman Prize winner will be announced April 24. The contribution provides operational support for the competition, in addition to prize money, Wharton said. - Reid Kanaley

Spirit adds flights to Las Vegas

Spirit Airlines will begin daily nonstop flights to Las Vegas from Philadelphia International Airport on April 25. The Miramar, Fla.-based carrier earlier announced it will begin daily service to Dallas-Fort Worth on April 4, and seasonal nonstop flights to Myrtle Beach, S.C. on April 25. - Linda Loyd

Five Below increases share offer

A secondary offering of shares in Philadelphia retailer Five Below Inc. was increased to about 11.3 million shares. Earlier this month the chain said that certain shareholders - including some of its management and board members - may sell up to 8.1 million shares of its stock. The offering was priced at $35.65 a share. Shares closed Wednesday at $37.25, up $1.35, or 3.76 percent. Five Below will not receive any of the offering's proceeds. - AP

Lauder leaving N.J. for N.Y., Pa.

The Estee Lauder Cos. notified state officials it is moving its operation from northern New Jersey, resulting in 85 layoffs. Instead of the 148,000-square-foot plant in Oakland, N.J., the company says it will fill and bottle fragrances at existing facilities in Bristol, Bucks County, or in Melville, N.Y. Thirty-one employees in New Jersey will be offered jobs at the other plants. - AP

Endo said in sales talks

Endo Health Solutions Inc. has talked in recent weeks with other pharmaceutical companies about selling the Chadds Ford-based drugmaker, Reuters reported. The talks involved Warner Chilcott P.L.C. and Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., Reuters reported, citing sources it did not identify. Endo spokesman Kevin Wiggins said the company did not comment on "market speculation." Warner Chilcott is headquartered in Ireland but its main U.S. office is in Rockaway, N.J. Valeant is headquartered in Montreal, with its U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J. Endo shares closed up 11 percent, at $31.66. - David Sell

Elsewhere

Facebook profit plunges

Facebook Inc. said fourth-quarter profit plunged after spending on new mobile and advertising features led to a surge in costs. Net income tumbled 79 percent to $64 million as operating expenses jumped 82 percent, the company said. That outpaced a 40 percent revenue gain to $1.59 billion, and compares with the average estimate for $45.8 million in profit on sales of $1.52 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shares slipped in extended trading. - Bloomberg News

Watchdog: Taxpayer losses growing

A government watchdog says U.S. taxpayers stand to lose $27 billion from the 2008 financial bailout, up from an estimate of $22 billion in the fall. Ally Financial Inc., the former financial arm of General Motors, still owes $14.6 billion of the $17.2 billion in aid it received. The watchdog report says taxpayers can expect to lose $5.5 billion on that investment because of the company's losses on risky mortgages issued ahead of the financial crisis. Taxpayers own 74 percent of the company. The report also said the Treasury Department lacks a plan to unwind its investment in Ally. Treasury says it has an exit strategy. - AP

Toyota recalling 1.3 million cars

Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 907,000 cars, mostly Corollas, due to air bags that can improperly inflate when the vehicle's electronic signals damage a chip in the part that controls the air bags. It also is recalling 385,000 Lexus IS luxury cars with wipers that can get stuck if there is heavy snowfall. - AP

Boeing sticking with 787 speed-up

Boeing Co. is sticking with plans to speed up production of its 787 and sees no reason to change the lithium-ion battery design at the center of the troubled plane's problems, CEO Jim McNerney said. A fire and emergency landing earlier this month, both involving the batteries, prompted regulators to ground Boeing's newest and highest-profile plane. - AP

Chrysler earns $1.7B for 2012

In just three years, Chrysler has gone from government ward to rising star. The No. 3 U.S. automaker made $1.7 billion last year thanks to big gains for its much-improved cars and trucks, and it is expecting profits to reach $2.2 billion this year. It's a big improvement over 2011, when Chrysler earned $138 million. And it's even more remarkable, considering that Chrysler was in bankruptcy and living on taxpayer loans just three years ago. - AP

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