Business news briefs: Del Monte renamed after sale

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The Del Monte Foods pet products division has become Big Heart Pet Brands, following the sale of Del Monte's consumer products division. Big Heart's brands will include familiar names such as Milk-Bone, Meow Mix, Kibbles 'n Bits and 9Lives. The new company headquartered in San Francisco will keep about 220 people in offices on Pittsburgh's North Shore. Del Monte bought some of its pet brands from Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co. in 2002. The Del Monte Foods consumer products business, including the College Inn broth brand once owned by Heinz, has been sold for $1.675 billion to Del Monte Pacific Limited.

Jewelers Signet, Zale tie knot

Two diamond sellers are getting engaged. Signet Jewelers said Wednesday that it agreed to buy Zale Corp. for roughly $900 million. Bermuda-based Signet Jewelers Ltd. operates 1,400 stores in the U.S. under the names Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria of Jewelry. Dallas-based Zale operates 1,680 stores in North America under names including Zales and Gordon's.

U.S. Steel down 7 percent

Shares of U.S. Steel fell 7 percent Wednesday after a U.S. Department of Commerce preliminary decision not to impose penalties on imports of oil country tubular goods from South Korea and place smaller than expected penalties on imports from other countries.

U.S. Steel and eight other domestic producers filed a trade complaint in July against nine countries alleging they were selling the products in the U.S. market for less than they sell them in their home markets or below their costs of production. U.S. Steel shares closed at $24.86, down $1.88.

Merger papers available

The merger application and financial papers related to the proposed union of Pittsburgh's Highmark Inc. and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania are now available online, via the state Department of Insurance website. To view the papers, visit ow.ly/tNwDf.

150 Argosy workers laid off

Downtown-based Education Management Corp. has laid off 150 employees from its Argosy University brand of schools Tuesday and Wednesday. Argosy, which does not have any physical campuses in Pittsburgh, has some dedicated support staff at the company's Pittsburgh offices. Forty of the people laid off worked in Pittsburgh, the rest were in support functions at campuses throughout the country.

Earnings

• Wabtec Corp. reported net income for the fourth quarter of $74 million, or 76 cents per share, up from $64.8 million, or 67 cents per share, a year ago. The international freight and transit company said fourth-quarter income from operations was $111 million, compared to $100 million for the year-ago quarter. Sales were up 12 percent, to $681.5 million in the three months ended Dec. 31. Excluding 3 cents in after-tax expenses, primarily for restructuring actions, earnings per share were 79 cents per share. That met analysts' expectations, based on a poll by Thomson Reuters.

For the full year, Wilmerding-based Wabtec reported net income of $292.2 million, or $3.01 per share, compared to $251.7 million, or $2.60 per share, the previous year. Sales of $2.57 billion were up from $2.39 billion a year earlier. The company is projecting 2014 earnings at $3.45 per share, with revenue growth of about 15 percent.

• United-American Savings Bank, a one-office bank on the South Side, said net income rose 16 percent in 2013 to $557,000, or $1.76 per share, up from $480,000, or $1.64, in 2012. Assets grew 9 percent to $85.4 million from $78.1 million.

• Calgon Carbon reported higher profits for the fourth quarter and all of 2013 despite lower sales. The Robinson environmental products and services company said fourth-quarter income rose 21 percent to $11 million, or 20 cents per share. Sales fell 6 percent to $133.1 million. Year-ago results included pretax restructuring charges of $2.3 million.

For the year, net income totaled $45.7 million, or 84 cents per share vs. 2012 earnings of $23.3 million, or 41 cents per share. Sales fell nearly 3 percent to $547.9 million.

Producer price index rises

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the producer price index, which tracks prices before they reach consumers, rose 0.2 percent in January. In the past year, producer prices have risen just 1.2 percent, below the Federal Reserve's preferred target rate. Excluding the cost of food, energy and markups by wholesalers and retailers, so-called core prices ticked up just 0.1 percent.

Homebuilding continues fall

U.S. home construction fell in January for a second month because of severe winter weather in many parts of the country. Builders started work at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 880,000, down 16 percent from December, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. For all of 2013, housing construction rose 17.7 percent to 976,000 units, the best showing since 2007.

LinkedIn debuts post feature

LinkedIn is giving its 277 million account holders more space to share their experiences and insights. A new feature rolled out Wednesday will free LinkedIn users from restrictions that have limited posts to 300 characters. LinkedIn's average number of unique visitors and the average pages viewed on its site have been gradually declining since the middle of last year.

Budvar Budweiser trademark

The Czech brewery Budvar says a Portuguese trade court has ruled that it will have the exclusive rights to the Budweiser trademark in the country, canceling the rights owned by rival Anheuser-Busch InBev. Budvar now has the sole rights to the Budweiser trademark in Portugal.

Also in business ...

First Commonwealth Financial Corp. on Wednesday said its board of directors authorized a $25 million common stock repurchase program. Under the previous program, which expired in January, the bank repurchased 10.8 million shares at a weighted average price of $6.97 per share. ... Michael Baker International has won contracts from the U.S. Air Force valued at $838 million to provide design, engineering and other services at Iraq's Balad Air Base that are required to support that country's purchase of F-16 aircraft from the United States.


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