Business news briefs: Calgon urged to buy stock

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Calgon urged to buy stock

An activist investor is urging Calgon Carbon Corp. in Robinson to buy back more stock and refinance debt. "Calgon should use available funds and borrowings to repurchase $150 million to $200 million of its currently undervalued stock as soon as possible," said a letter from Starboard Value LP, a New York investment fund that owns about 9.7 percent of the water purification company. Although the company cut costs and began a $50 million share buyback program, it could do more to improve profitability, the letter said. In March, Calgon Carbon agreed to add two independent directors to avoid a Starboard-led proxy fight. The company said Monday it would review the recommendations.

Area gas prices keep falling

Local gas prices fell 2.9 cents in the past week, continuing a slide that started in early September. The average Pittsburgh-area gas price was $3.38 per gallon Sunday, according to a survey conducted by That's 31.1 cents lower than the same time last year and 11.0 cents lower than last month. The national average fell 3.3 cents to $3.26 per gallon, spurred by falling crude oil prices.

Alloy company reports loss

Universal Stainless & Alloy Products reported a third-quarter net loss of $1.7 million, or 25 cents per share, compared with net income of $2.7 million, or 38 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. The Bridgeville-based company said the loss was the result of lower margins that resulted from production level declines at most of its facilities. Third-quarter sales were $48.5 million, down from $61.4 million a year ago. Despite the drop in sales from a year ago, Chairman Dennis Oates said third-quarter sales and shipments improved over the second quarter in three key markets: aerospace, power generation, and oil and gas. Shipments of steel to heavy equipment markets declined.

Shale groups plan study

The Marcellus Shale Coalition and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association plan to launch their own study of radioactive materials in the oil and gas extraction process. The state Department of Environmental Protection began a similar study in January, and has already surveyed more than 100 sites to test for radioactivity in drill cuttings, wastewater and equipment. Coalition spokesman Patrick Creighton said the industry study is meant to complement to the DEP effort.

SAC pleads guilty to fraud

SAC Capital Advisors will plead guilty to criminal fraud charges, stop investing money for others and pay $1.8 billion -- the largest financial penalty in history for insider trading -- to resolve criminal and civil claims against the hedge fund giant, the government announced Monday. The government said the "proposed global resolution" of the criminal and civil cases also includes an agreement that SAC will cease operating as an investment adviser and will not accept any additional funds from third-party investors.

HFF sees increase in income

Downtown-based HFF Inc. reported third quarter net income of $13.3 million, or 35 cents per share, compared to net income of $10.1 million, or 27 cents per share, for the same quarter last year. That met analysts expectations. Revenue was $89.4 million compared to $69 million last year.

Twitter bumps up IPO price

Twitter's confidence appears to be increasing ahead of its initial public offering set for later this week. The 7-year-old short messaging service on Monday boosted the price range for the IPO, saying it now expects to price its shares at between $23 and $25 each. It previously planned to sell the shares for between $17 and $20 each. At its new range, the IPO could raise more than $2 billion.

Also in Business ...

The number of people who took the Law School Admission Test in October was down 11 percent from a year ago. The Law School Admissions Council's data show 33,768 people took the LSAT last month, compared to 37,790 in October 2012. ... PPG Industries named Diane Kappas vice president, Americas, for the protective and marine coatings business effective Dec. 1. Jane Valenta was named to Ms. Kappas' previous position of vice president, environment, health and safety.

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