Business news in brief

Tobacco farmers at the Boka Tobacco auction floors in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday. The country's tobacco-selling season began in February and tobacco worth over $400 million has been sold, most to buyers from China and the European Union.
Tobacco farmers at the Boka Tobacco auction floors in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday. The country's tobacco-selling season began in February and tobacco worth over $400 million has been sold, most to buyers from China and the European Union. (TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI / Associated Press)
Posted: May 15, 2013

In the Region

Radioactive gauge missing

State and federal officials are looking for a gauge containing radioactive material that fell off the back of a truck in West Virginia. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says the gauge was reported missing May 3 by Valley Quarries Inc. of Chambersburg. Pennsylvania licenses the company to use the gauge. DEP officials say there's no threat to the public as long as the device isn't dismantled. The device is a Troxler Model 3430 with serial number 32506. It's bright-yellow and about the size of a shoe box. It was lost along I-81 between mile markers 17 and 24. The gauge is commonly used in road construction for taking depth measurements in the ground. The company is offering an unspecified reward for its return. - AP

Hospital group to seek new rating

CHE Trinity Inc., the new nonprofit health-care giant that combined the operations of Catholic Health East and Trinity Health, plans to tap the bond market this fall and receive a new rating from bond-ratings agencies, according to a management presentation. CHE Trinity, which has its headquarters in Michigan but maintains a regional office in Newtown Square, also provided some financial details for the first time since the merger was announced in the fall.

Cost savings from the elimination of duplicate operations and other changes are projected to be $250 million to $300 million. Targeted revenue gains are $100 million to $150 million, CHE Trinity said. On a pro forma basis, CHE Trinity had $13.1 billion in revenue for the 12 months ended March 31. - Harold Brubaker

Five Below raises outlook

Five Below Inc., of Philadelphia, said its first-quarter revenue increased 33 percent to $95.6 million. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted revenue of $92.9 million. Revenue at stores open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, climbed 4.2 percent. Five Below now anticipates first-quarter adjusted earnings of three cents to four cents per share. Its prior outlook called for adjusted earnings of two cents to three cents per share. Wall Street anticipates earnings of three cents per share. The chain also submitted a regulatory filing for a proposed secondary offering of about 8.6 million shares by shareholders. Five Below won't receive any proceeds from the offering. Shares closed at $39.61, up 2.5 percent. - AP

New CEO at chemical foundation

The Philadelphia-based Chemical Heritage Foundation named Carsten Reinhardt as its new president and chief executive officer, effective Aug. 1. Reinhardt, a professor of the history

of science at Bielefeld University, Germany, will replace Thomas R. Tritton, who is retiring. The Chemical Heritage Foundation, 315 Chestnut St., is a library and museum of the history and heritage of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences and technologies. - Reid Kanaley

Hershey to sell $250M in notes

Hershey Co. said it would sell $250 million in 2.625 percent notes due in 2023. The company will use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, it said. Hershey earlier reported that first-quarter profit rose 22 percent, to $241.9 million, as sales rose 5.5 percent, to $1.83 billion, from a year earlier. - Inquirer staff

Elsewhere

Fees put airlines in the black

U.S. airlines collected more than $6 billion in baggage and reservation- change fees from passengers last year - the highest amount since the fees became common five years ago. Those fees - along with extra charges for boarding early or picking prime seats - have helped return the industry to profitability. Airlines started charging for a first checked suitcase in 2008, and the fees have climbed since. The nation's 15 largest carriers collected a combined $3.5 billion in bag fees in 2012, up 3.8 percent from 2011, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Fees for changing a reservation totaled $2.6 billion, up 7.3 percent. The airlines took in $159.5 billion in revenue last year and had expenses of $153.6 billion, according to the government. That 3.7 percent profit margin comes entirely from the baggage and change fees. - AP

Low-cost BlackBerry coming

Research in Motion Ltd. unveiled a lower-cost BlackBerry on Tuesday aimed at consumers in emerging markets, stepping up its efforts to regain market share lost to Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Android devices powered by Google Inc.'s software. The lower-cost gadget, called the Q5, is the company's third smartphone to run the new BlackBerry 10 system. It will have a physical keyboard, something that sets RIM's devices apart from the iPhone and most Android phones. The device will be available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (including the Asia Pacific region), and Latin America beginning in July. The Q5 isn't expected to be released in North America for now. The company did not disclose prices for the new phone. - AP

Sony is pressured for breakup

Billionaire Daniel Loeb is pushing for a breakup of Sony Corp., saying the Japanese company should sell part of its entertainment unit in an initial public offering so it could focus on its struggling electronics business. Loeb's Third Point hedge fund asked Sony, which has seen its market value shrink almost 90 percent from its peak, to sell as much as 20 percent of the entertainment business, according to a May 14 letter given to chief executive officer Kazuo Hirai and obtained by Bloomberg News. The entertainment unit isn't for sale, Tokyo-based Sony said in a statement. The stock rose $1.87 to $20.76. - Bloomberg News

Google CEO discloses throat ailment

Google Inc. CEO Larry Page disclosed a problem with his vocal cords that has made it occasionally difficult for him to speak and breathe, but he said he remains fit enough to keep running the Internet's most influential company. The explanation cleared up a mystery hanging over Page since he lost his voice a year ago, causing him to miss Google's annual shareholders meeting in June and a conference call to discuss the company's quarterly earnings in July. Page, who is 40, says his left vocal cord has been paralyzed since he came down with a severe cold 14 years ago. That issue was compounded last year with another cold that Page says impaired his right vocal cord, though it still has limited movement. - AP

  

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