Business news briefs: Business Bout business plan competition open

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Business competition open

Thrill Mill, an East Liberty-based nonprofit featuring the Hustle Den startup incubator, is accepting applications for its Business Bout business plan competition. Fifteen finalists will be selected to win either a top $25,000 prize or one of 14 $5,000 prizes during a January startup boot camp. For more information, visit www.businessbout.com.

Fitting Group acquired

Bloomfield-based C-leveled has acquired Downtown ad agency Fitting Group. The merged organization will have about 30 employees.

Earnings

* Koppers Holdings, the Downtown-based chemicals and railroad products company, said third-quarter net income rose nearly 19 percent to $19 million, or 92 cents per share, from $16 million, or 77 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales increased to $395 million from $388 million a year ago. Adjusted net income was $18.8 million, or 90 cents per share, beating analysts' average estimate of 78 cents per share. Adjusted income excluded $1.2 million in costs related to closing a wood-treating facility in Grenada, Miss. Walter Turner, chief executive, said the company recently eliminated 40 positions in North America, including some positions at its plant in Follansbee, W.Va., which is undergoing a restructuring. It also closed a facility in Muncy, Lycoming County, and idled a plant in Portland, Ore.

* Ansys reported third quarter net income of $62.4 million, or 66 cents per share, up from $51.6 million, or 54 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenues were $212.7 million, up from $196.9 million the same period last year. The Southpointe-based engineering simulation software company updated its fourth-quarter guidance to project revenue in the range of $233.3 to $239.3 million and updated fiscal year 2013 guidance to project revenues between $858.6 million and $864.6 million.

* RTI International Metals said growth in its commercial aerospace business and lower costs in its titanium business contributed to a big jump in third quarter earnings. The Moon titanium producer reported net income from continuing operations of $12.3 million, or 37 cents per share vs. earnings of $3.6 million, or 11 cents per share, in the year ago-quarter. Sales increased 8 percent to $196.5 million. RTI also benefited from a tax-related benefit that contributed $2.6 million, or 6 cents per share, to earnings.

* TreeHouse Foods Inc., which makes private label soups in the former Heinz plant on the North Side, reported third quarter net income of $22.67 million, or 61 cents per share, which compares to $21.55 million, or 58 cents per share, last year. Excluding one-time items, the Oak Brook, Ill., company said earnings per share were 82 cents, exceeding analysts' estimates by 5 cents. Net sales of $567.2 million were up 5.4 percent over last year's $538.1 million, driven mainly by acquisitions. Last year, the company announced plans to close its Mendota, Ill., soup facility and to shift the production to Pittsburgh. In a conference call with analysts Thursday, CFO Dennis F. Riordan said, "Our Pittsburgh plant has been doing a fantastic job in terms of adjusting to the volume changes."

* Siemens, the German engineering and electronics giant, said Thursday that its profit fell 10 percent in the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30 to 1.1 billion euros, or roughly $1.5 billion, from 1.2 billion euros a year earlier as sales dipped and the company booked restructuring costs. Sales fell 1 percent to 21.2 billion euros, in part because of a sharp decline in the United States, where the company had trouble completing projects on time for customers in the metals industry. Siemens also announced it will sell its water technologies division, based in Warrendale, to AEA Investors for 640 million euros.

Pre-shutdown growth seen

The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate from July through September, a surprising acceleration ahead of the 16-day partial government shutdown, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Much of the strength came from a buildup in company stockpiling. Analysts say the shutdown could cut more than half a percentage point from annual growth in the October-December quarter.

Credit card use down

Americans cut back on using their credit cards in September for the fourth straight month but boosted borrowing in the category that covers auto loans and student debt. Consumers increased their borrowing by $13.7 billion in September to a seasonally adjusted $3.05 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

Most booster seats top-rated

More than half of the 31 child booster seats that went on sale this year earned a top rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. There are only two booster seats the institute warns people not to buy: The Safety 1st All-In-One and Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite. The list is available online at www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/child-boosters.

Electronic reports preferred

The Labor Department wants large companies to begin filing all workplace injury and illness reports electronically so they are available for anyone in the public to see. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the plan, which would require companies with more than 250 employees to submit the data electronically on a quarterly basis.


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