Business Briefs: Axiall reports big profit boost

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Axiall Corp. reported fourth-quarter net income of $57 million, or 81 cents per share, compared with net income of $32 million, or 92 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2012. Sales for the chemicals and building products maker were $1.1 billion, up from $784.7 million a year ago. Adjusted income was $62 million, or 88 cents per share, beating analysts' estimates of 67 cents per share. Among the exclusions in adjusted income were costs resulting from the merger last year of PPG Industries' commodity chemicals business with Georgia Gulf Corp. to create Axiall. For all of 2013, sales totaled $4.7 billion, up from $3.3 billion for 2012. Net income for the year was $165.3 million, or $2.44 per share, compared with $120.5 million, or $3.45 per share for 2012.Atlanta-based Axiall has about 100 employees Downtown and 20 at a PPG research center in Monroeville.

Bancorp doubles earnings

Allegheny Valley Bancorp, parent company of Allegheny Valley Bank based in Lawrenceville, said earnings in the fourth quarter more than doubled to $805,000, or 82 cents per share, up from $365,000, or 38 cents, in the same quarter a year earlier. For the full year, profits fell 10 percent to $2.3 million, down from $2.5 million in 2012. Per-share profits fell 12 percent to $2.30 from $2.62.

Consumer growth slows down

The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index rose just 0.1 percent in January. Prices have risen 1.6 percent in the past 12 months. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices also rose just 0.1 percent last month and 1.6 percent in the past year.

Sbarro scales back in malls

Sbarro Inc. said it's closing 155 of its U.S. locations, mostly in mall food courts where traffic has declined. The Melville, N.Y.-based pizza chain said the closures affect 1,400 workers. The closures do not affect the additional 175 Sbarro locations in the region that are owned by franchisees.

Pepsi asked to focus on drinks

Activist investor Nelson Peltz is ramping up the pressure on PepsiCo, reaffirming his call for the company to separate its global drinks division from its snack unit. PepsiCo's drinks, which include Mountain Dew, Tropicana and Aquafina, have lost ground to bigger rival Coca-Cola Co. in recent years. Mr. Peltz's Trian Fund Management believes PepsiCo's beverage unit can generate more cash flow under "focused leadership."

Economic index rises

The Conference Board reported Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.3 percent last month. The index is designed to signal economic conditions over the next three to six months.

Bitcoin ATM opens in Boston

A Bitcoin ATM has landed at a Boston rail hub. On Wednesday, the ATM was placed by Liberty Teller at Boston's bustling South Station. It and an ATM in Albuquerque, N.M., are believed to be the first in the country. Bitcoin is an open-source currency affiliated with no country or bank, which can be bought and sold anonymously.

Also in business ...

Porsche is asking owners of its 911 GT3 models to stop driving them because they can develop engine problems and catch fire. The German sports car maker says it will pick up the cars and take them to a dealership for inspection. The GT3 costs more than $130,000. ... Pittsburgh health insurer Highmark Inc. is laying off 28 across its finance departments, with 14 of them in Pittsburgh, a company spokesman said.


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