Business news in brief

Posted: February 27, 2013

In the Region

Hersha sells $75M in preferred stock

Hersha Hospitality Trust, the hotel group run by Philadelphia-based brothers Jay and Neil Shah, sold $75 million in Series C perpetual preferred stock at 6.875 percent, a full point below some recent issues and the lowest recorded on a list of 20 hotel preferreds compiled by Teresa Hee, managing director at Wells Fargo Securities, the bookrunning manager of the sale. Hersha intends to use the proceeds to redeem its outstanding 8 percent Series A cumulative redeemable preferred shares. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Chemtura shares fall 11.8 percent

Shares of Chemtura Corp. were hammered after the Philadelphia chemical-maker issued earnings late Monday that missed analysts' estimates. Shares fell 11.8 percent, to close at $19.36. Chemtura said fourth- quarter earnings rose 13 percent from a year earlier, to $27 million, or 27 cents a share, on sales of $622 million in the last quarter of 2012. The sales figure represents an 8 percent increase from the prior-year period. But analysts, on average, expected earnings of 32 cents per share on revenue of $684 million, according to Bloomberg News. - Reid Kanaley

DuPont developing hybrid wheat

DuPont Co., of Wilmington, the second-largest seed company, has begun developing hybrid wheat varieties to accelerate yield gains in the world's most planted crop. Creation of hybrid wheat, which would be formed by crossbreeding two varieties, is a new effort for DuPont, which has previously announced plans to try to boost yields through genetic modification of the crop. - Bloomberg News

CDI swings to 4Q profit

In fourth-quarter results at CDI Corp., revenue rose to $270.5 million from $268 million and net income rose to $5 million, from a loss of $657,000 in the last three months of 2011. CDI, a Philadelphia staffing company, expects first-quarter 2013 revenue in the $265 million-to-$275 million range, down from $281 million in the 2012 first quarter. Shares rose 18 cents, or 1 percent, to $16.82. For all of 2012, CDI reported that revenue grew 4.3 percent to $1.105 billion, up from $1.06 billion in 2011. Net income was $19.1 million, up from $14.8 million, or 97 cents per diluted share, up from 77 cents. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Met-Pro wins $2.3M in orders

Met-Pro Corp., of Harleysville, said

it received two orders totaling $2.3 million to supply pollution-control equipment for a plant expansion by a chemical manufacturer that it did not name. Met-Pro has annual revenue of about $110 million. Shares rose 1.5 percent, to $10.11. - Inquirer staff

Grant to move businesses to 'cloud'

The University of Pennsylvania was awarded a $879,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration to fund technical-assistance initiatives for small businesses in a 14-county area affected by severe flooding of the Susquehanna River in 2011. The money will pay for help to be provided by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center and six additional university-based SBDCs located at Bucknell, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Shippensburg, Scranton, and Wilkes. The primary focus of these efforts will be facilitating the adoption of cloud computing services, which enable businesses to increase their resiliency and more quickly restore basic operations after a disaster. - Diane Mastrull

Director hired at business group

The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, a nonprofit advocacy group for independent, locally owned businesses that value social and environmental impact as well as profit, hired Jamie Gauthier as its new executive director. Most recently, Gauthier was program officer at the Philadelphia arm of Local Initiatives Support Corp., a national nonprofit development agency. Gauthier succeeds Leanne Krueger- Braneky, who left SBN at the end of January to join the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, or BALLE, as director of fellowship and alumni. – Diane Mastrull

LimnTech wins innovation award

A Souderton company was among the recipients of the 2013 Innovation Awards by the American Traffic Safety Services Association. LimnTech Scientific Inc. took third place in a field of 22 competitors for its LTS-100 and LTS-200, the first GPS-based machine vision systems for the roadway-marking industry. The judges included roadway engineers and safety experts, who visited the company's exhibits and evaluated its products at the 43d Annual Convention and Traffic Expo in San Diego on Feb. 22-26. - Diane Mastrull


Bernanke reaffirms stimulus backing

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reaffirmed the central bank's commitment to its massive stimulus program, tamping down speculation of a pullback that spooked stock markets last week. Testifying before the Senate banking committee, Bernanke said the benefits of the Fed's efforts to keep interest rates near zero were clear. Sales of homes, autos, and other durable goods have rebounded. That has helped reduce unemployment and build household wealth, which in turn fuel the engine of the economy: consumer spending. - Washington Post

Bank profits jump

Profits at U.S. banks jumped almost 37 percent for the October-to- December period, reaching the highest level for a fourth quarter in six years as banks continued to step up lending. The figures are fresh evidence of the industry's sustained recovery more than four years after the financial crisis. Banks earned $34.7 billion in the last three months of 2012, up from $25.4 billion a year ago and the highest for a fourth quarter since 2006, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported. Sixty percent of banks reported improved earnings from the fourth quarter of 2011, the agency said. The FDIC, created during the Great Depression to ensure bank deposits, monitors and examines the financial condition of U.S. banks. - AP

JPMorgan to cut 4,000 jobs

JPMorgan is trimming about 4,000 jobs, or about 1.5 percent of its workforce, becoming the latest big bank to shrink its staff. The bank said the cuts would be focused in consumer banking and mortgages. Many of the cuts will come through attrition, but the bank will lay off workers as well, a spokeswoman said. - AP


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