Business News Briefs: Foundation hits milestone

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Foundation hits milestone

The Pittsburgh Foundation's assets totaled $1.05 billion at the end of 2013, surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time. Assets at the end of 2012 were $905 million. Officials of the community foundation -- which was launched in 1945 and includes funds established by individuals, families, businesses and other organizations -- attributed last year's asset growth to several factors: the creation of 105 new charitable funds with total value exceeding $20 million; strong annual fundraising that generated almost $60 million; and investment returns that averaged more than 12 percent. The foundation last year awarded grants totaling $40.5 million.

Dick's sues rival chain's owner

Findlay-based Dick's Sporting Goods claims in a lawsuit filed in Mercer County Court in New Jersey that Mitchell Modell, CEO of rival Modell's Sporting Goods, showed up at a Dick's store in Princeton in February saying he was a Dick's senior vice president. Dick's alleges Mr. Modell, who once appeared on the TV show "Undercover Boss," persuaded workers to show him the backroom of the store and to answer questions about the business. Mr. Modell gathered information about online sales, including a "ship from store" program that gets products to customers' doors quickly, the lawsuit said. Modell's spokesman Jason Karlowski was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Phony gift card case settled

A group of marketers has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it schemed to bombard consumers with phony Walmart and Best Buy gift card offers in spam text messages, then directed recipients to deceptive websites where they tried to sell them products and services. People who clicked the links in the text messages did not receive the promised items, according to the FTC. The settlement bars the marketers from sending unsolicited text messages and from deceptive marketing. A $200,000 judgment against them was mostly suspended due to their inability to pay.

Bayer reports Q4 profit jump

Boosted by strong sales of its new drugs, Bayer AG -- a global pharmaceuticals and chemicals maker -- said fourth-quarter net income jumped by 24 percent to 455 million euros ($628 million) from 366 million euros in the 2012 fourth quarter while sales rose by 6.4 percent to 9.9 billion euros. However, profits before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and special charges fell 3.1 percent to 1.77 billion euros, missing analysts' average estimate of 1.92 billion euros. Higher costs for research and development and negative currency effects in emerging international markets hurt profits, the Germany-based company said. For the full year, net income rose by nearly 33 percent to 3.2 billion euros. Worldwide sales edged up 1 percent to a record 40.2 billion euros. While recently launched drug products boosted the health care unit's sales by nearly 2 percent, and strong agricultural product sales pushed the crop science segment's revenues up by 5 percent, material science sales fell by 2 percent.

Bayer's North American material sciences business is based in Robinson. Marijn Dekkers, Bayer chairman, said the material science business, which makes chemicals and plastics, was hurt by raw material price increases and an overall "difficult market environment."

Full-year sales in North America were 9.7 billion euros, up 1 percent over 2012. Bayer has about 2,300 employees in the Pittsburgh region including those at the Robinson campus and those who work for Medrad, a Marshall-based subsidiary of Bayer HealthCare.

U.S. growth slowed down

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate last quarter, sharply less than first thought, in part because consumers didn't spend as much as initially estimated. Severe winter weather is expected to further slow the economy in the current quarter. The Commerce Department on Friday reduced its estimate of economic growth in the October-December quarter to 2.4 percent annual growth, the weakest quarterly showing since the first quarter of 2013.


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