Business news briefs: PPG sees earnings jump

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PPG Industries said fourth-quarter earnings per share jumped by 45 percent over a year ago as the paints, glass and specialty chemicals maker benefited from increased revenues from acquisitions and stronger demand for its automotive and aerospace coatings. Sales rose by 14 percent to $3.7 billion. Net income was $254 million, or $1.78 per share, up from $191 million, or $1.23 per share in the fourth quarter of 2012. Excluding acquisition-related costs of $4 million, adjusted net income rose to $258 million, or $1.81 per share, beating analysts' average estimates of $1.73 per share.

Charles Bunch, chairman and chief executive, said the Downtown-based company is ahead of schedule on achieving cost savings related to its $1.05-billion acquisition in April of the North American architectural coatings business of Dutch paints maker AkzoNobel, which makes Glidden and other brands.

For all of 2013, sales increased by 12 percent to $15.1 billion. Full-year adjusted earnings per share rose by 29 percent to $8.28. PPG expects to close on the sale of its stake in the Transitions Optical venture in the first half of 2014 and should receive $1.5 billion in after-tax proceeds, said Mr. Bunch. In a conference call with analysts Thursday, he also said the company is in active discussions that could lead to acquisitions this year.

Jefferson hospital lays off 25

Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills has laid off 25 workers, primarily from its administration and administrative support staffs. The hospital, part of Highmark's Allegheny Health Network, has about 2,000 employees.

Supplier buys EQT Energy

Wyomissing-based energy supplier UGI Energy Services bought EQT Energy, a retail supplier of natural gas to 1,100 commercial and industrial clients in Western Pennsylvania. UGI will continue to honor EQT Energy's contracts.

Home builder index falls

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Thursday dipped to 56. That's down from December's reading of 57. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

American Eagle tests new tech

South Side teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters will be working with Shopkick to launch a 100-store test of an Apple iBeacon-based system that will send information to the smartphones of shoppers on discounts, product recommendations and rewards without them being required to open an app.

Heinz, union settle contract

The H.J. Heinz Co. and the union representing workers at the company's 740-employee plant in Leamington, Ontario, have agreed on a closure agreement in light of plans to shut down the facility this summer.

Broker declares cash dividend

Downtown-based commercial real estate broker based HFF Inc. declared a special cash dividend of $1.83 per common share, payable Feb. 6 to shareholders of record on Jan. 27.

Furniture store closes its doors

Colonial Modern Furniture, which announced plans in the fall to close its outlet store on Route 51 in the Baldwin-Whitehall area, has now started a going-out-of-business sale at its McMurray flagship store. The store is expected to close within 60 days.

Consumer goods on uptick

The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in December. Inflation increased 1.5 percent in 2013. Gasoline prices jumped 3.1 percent in December, while food prices ticked up 0.1 percent. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices increased just 0.1 percent in December. Core prices increased 1.7 percent in 2013.

Ross mall says hello to style

Ross Park Mall is getting Styleout, a blow dry bar that doesn't do hair cuts but focuses on styling, in addition to offering makeup, nail care and eyebrow threading. The first Styleout opened in Columbus, Ohio, in October. The salon officially opens today.

Chuck E. Cheese company sold

The parent company of the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain has agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of Apollo Global Management for about $950 million. Apollo will pay $54 per share for CEC Entertainment Inc. The deal's overall value is about $1.3 billion, including debt. Chuck. E. Cheese was founded by Nolan Bushnell, one of the founders of the video-game company Atari.

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