Business news briefs: Pa. agency reports hospitals seeing positive operating margins

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The state's rehabilitation, long-term acute care and psychiatric hospitals all showed positive operating margins in 2012, with the 19 rehab hospitals leading the way with a 14.65 percent operating margin, up from 13.7 percent the year before. The 27 long-term acute care facilities saw average operating margins grow from 5.94 percent in 2011 to 6.76 percent in 2012 while the 19 free-standing nonstate psychiatric hospitals saw a slight decline, from 5.3 percent in 2011 to 5.23 percent in 2012. The information is contained in a report released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, an independent state agency that collects health care quality and cost data.

About 2,000 jobs eliminated as part of Heinz restructuring

The H.J. Heinz Co.'s new management had eliminated about 2,000 corporate and field positions globally as of Oct. 27, part of a restructuring push that incurred pre-tax costs of $198.7 million during the most recent quarter, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Pittsburgh food company, which was acquired in June by 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, said sales in the three months ended Oct. 27 fell 3.7 percent to $2.72 billion. Sales volume fell 1.5 percent, as gains in emerging markets were more than offset by declines in developed markets such as the U.S. and Europe.

Delta CEO: Travelers would pay possible hike in airline security fee

The CEO of Delta Air Lines, Richard Anderson, says a bigger security fee being considered in Congress will be paid by travelers, not by the airlines. Congress is debating a budget that would add $5 to each nonstop, round-trip ticket for a Transportation Security Administration fee.

South Side marketing firms to combine operations

South Side marketing agency Gatesman+Dave Inc. will almost double in size with the planned acquisition of another South Side agency, Quest Fore Marketing. The combined operation will have more than $13 million in combined agency revenue and nearly 80 employees. John Gatesman, Dave Kwasnick and Shannon Baker will continue as the principal partners, while Quest Fore CEO Ken Cuccinelli will move to a consulting role.

Wabtec announces increase in share buyback authorization

Wilmerding-based Wabtec Corp. has increased the company's share buyback authorization from $150 million to $200 million. The new buyback authorization supersedes the previous authorization of $150 million, which had about $45 million remaining. In 2013, the company repurchased about $38 million worth of Wabtec stock, including about $33 million in the fourth quarter. The company intends to continue buying back shares on the open market and in negotiated or block trades.

Massachusetts executive officer opposes natural gas firm's rate hike

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has formally opposed a proposed $30.1 million rate hike from Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, a sister company of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania under NiSource of Merrillville, Ind. Ms. Coakley cited a new corporate jet lease and lavish executive retreats as reasons for her opposition, though the state's department of public utilities will make the final decision. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved a $55.25 million rate hike for Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania in May.

More than 2 million Xbox Ones sold: Microsoft

Microsoft says more than 2 million of its Xbox One consoles have been sold since the system's launch Nov. 22. Company officials say users have spent over 83 million hours with the games, TV, and apps on Xbox One.

Canada Post says changes coming in urban communities

Canada's postal service will scrap home mail delivery in urban areas over the next five years and cut as many as 8,000 jobs to offset declining mail volume. Canada Post said Wednesday it will replace delivering mail directly to individual households with so-called community mailboxes. The change won't affect households using rural mailboxes.

Also in business...

U.S. Steel named John J. Quaid, 41, to the new position of vice president, iron ore, and announced the retirement of Sharon K. Owen, 59, who had been vice president, supply chain and customer service for the company's North American flat-rolled unit.

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