Business news in brief

KFC parent Yum Brands Inc. started a campaign Monday aimed at winning back consumers in China. Sales had tumbled amid a scandal over poultry suppliers' misuse of drugs, and the company pledged safety improvements. At a news conference in Beijing about the changes, an attendee passes a display on chicken growth.
KFC parent Yum Brands Inc. started a campaign Monday aimed at winning back consumers in China. Sales had tumbled amid a scandal over poultry suppliers' misuse of drugs, and the company pledged safety improvements. At a news conference in Beijing about the changes, an attendee passes a display on chicken growth. (AP)
Posted: February 26, 2013

In the Region

CVS to pay N.J. $650K in pill mix-up

CVS Caremark will pay New Jersey $650,000 and improve its quality assurance and oversight under an agreement that resolves incidents where CVS pharmacies mistakenly commingled patients' pills. The mix-ups occurred at five pharmacies, including one in Cherry Hill. The state investigation began after a CVS pharmacy in Chatham mistakenly distributed breast-cancer drugs, instead of fluoride pills, to children. Officials said only a few children ingested the pills, and no injuries related to the mix-up were reported. CVS said the human errors were "very rare," and it will give consumers additional ways to check the accuracy of their medications. The state will use the $650,000 from CVS to help fund a public campaign to educate consumers on how to check their medications. - Associated Press

Court hears Tennis Channel case

A three-judge panel in Washington heard Comcast Corp.'s appeal of the Federal Communications Commission order to distribute the Tennis Channel to about 20 million homes, or the same number of cable homes that it distributes the Comcast-owned Golf and NBC Sports Network channels. Tennis, which initially filed the action at the FCC in 2010, contends that Comcast is violating the 1992 Cable Act by favoring its own sports channels over Tennis and that its actions harm the 24-hour sports network. Comcast says that the FCC order infringes on its First Amendment rights to free speech and that it can decide without government interference which channels should be carried on its cable system. The case is being heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court did not say when it would issue a ruling. - Bob Fernandez

CEDC shares fall 55.4 percent

Shares of Central European Distribution Corp., the troubled Polish vodka maker with headquarters in Mount Laurel, fell 55.4 percent, to 62 cents, and its bonds tumbled on concerns that the Polish company will fail to pay back debt due next month. The $257.9 million of outstanding debt maturing next month will have to be refinanced should CEDC be unable to pay it back in order to prevent bankruptcy, said Jakub Krawczyk, an analyst at Raiffeisenbank AG in Vienna, Austria, which rates the stock hold. CEDC avoided default last year by making a deal with billionaire Roustam Tariko's Russian Standard Corp., which also sells vodka. A Warsaw-based spokeswoman for CEDC declined to comment. - Bloomberg News

Currency move costs J&J $100M

Health-care-products giant Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J., said that due to Venezuela's decision to devalue its currency, effective Feb. 13, the company will incur a charge of about $100 million to net income for the first three months of 2013. Venezuela lowered the bolivar's value against the dollar by a third, prompting some consumer-product makers to record charges. The J&J charge, the company said, is not expected to affect 2013 earnings guidance of $5.35 to $5.45 per share and revenue of about $71 billion that it announced in January. Shares fell 68 cents to $75.57. - Reid Kanaley

Woman wins $3.35M in implant case

A jury in Atlantic City awarded $3.35 million to a former nurse who says Johnson & Johnson's vaginal mesh implant caused severe chronic pain despite 18 unsuccessful repair surgeries. It's the first verdict in about 4,000 lawsuits filed against the health-products maker. At least one plaintiff has won a lawsuit against another maker of the once-popular implants, used to lift sagging pelvic organs back into place. The jury awarded the compensatory damages to Linda Gross, 47, of Watertown, S.D.

A spokeswoman said J&J is concerned when patients suffer complications, but that is a risk with all such pelvic surgeries. The jury is to deliberate on possible punitive damages starting Tuesday. - AP

Radian issues new shares

Radian Group Inc., of Philadelphia, said it is issuing shares and convertible notes as the company boosts capital for its unprofitable mortgage insurance business. The insurer has begun offering as many as 30 million shares of common stock and $200 million in notes. Mortgage insurers cover losses when homeowners default and foreclosures fail to recoup costs. Selling 30 million shares would raise about $244.5 million based on Monday's closing price of $8.15 a share. The stock dropped in extended trading. - Bloomberg News

Coal settlement in Midwest case

New Jersey and seven other East Coast states, the federal government, and citizens groups from Indiana have reached an agreement with one of the country's largest electricity producers to stop burning coal at two Midwestern power plans. American Electric Power agreed late Friday in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, to retire or switch to natural gas two coal-burning units at power plants in Ohio and Indiana by the end of 2015. As part of the settlement, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New York will receive a total of $6 million. The Indiana groups will receive $2.5 million. - AP

Elsewhere

U.S. starts to sell rest of stake in GM

The U.S. government has started to sell the rest of its stake in General Motors Co. The Treasury Department says in a report to Congress that it sold $156.4 million worth of GM common stock in January. The report says the government has recovered about $29 billion of its $49.5 billion bailout of GM. Breaking even would require selling the remaining 300 million shares - which Treasury has said it will do by early 2014 - for an average of about $70 each. Shares closed at $26,33, down 2.9 percent. - AP

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