Business Briefs: 4/22/14

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Matthews International misses analysts’ forecast

North Shore-based Matthews International Corp. reported second-quarter net income of $11.3 million, or 41 cents per share, compared to net income of $14 million, 51 cents per share, for the same quarter last year. Analysts had expected the funeral products and branding solutions company to earn 58 cents per share for the quarter. Matthews reported second-quarter sales of $247 million compared to sales of $256 million for the second quarter last year.

Food processing company acquiring Canadian firm

TreeHouse Foods Inc. is bulking up on its private label broths, soups and gravies business, with plans to acquire a Canadian food company for about $150 million. Oakbrook, Ill.-based TreeHouse, which makes private label soups at the former Heinz plant on the North Side, will buy Protenergy Natural Foods, including its Toronto-area headquarters and a second plant in Cambridge, Md. Protenergy reported 2013 sales of about $118 million. The sale should close in the second quarter. Sam K. Reed, chairman, president and CEO of TreeHouse, said it would probably take about a year to move the new business into its network. TreeHouse also said net sales in the first quarter were up 14.6 percent from the same period a year ago. Full quarterly results are set to be released in May.

New applesauce firm feels at home in Pa.

When French applesauce maker Charles & Alice Group was deciding whether to put its first American plant in Pennsylvania, the facts pointed to yes — in part because state officials were offering a generous $1.57 million package of grants, tax credits and a low-interest loan. “More importantly - and this has been a key decision factor — we also felt very welcome,” said Thierry Goubault, chief executive officer of Charles & Alice Group. The East Hempfield facility near Lancaster is expected to begin production in October with 12 employees. In three years, the site will have 50 employees.

Higher costs pressured businesses in 1st quarter

Rising costs for materials and labor appear to be impacting businesses, according to a quarterly survey from the National Association of Business Economics. During the first quarter of the year, 31 percent of businesses surveyed reported higher material costs. Additionally, 35 percent reported rising wages and salaries. The survey was conducted between March 18 and April 1.

AT&T looks to expand ultra-high-speed Internet service

While of­fer­ing no new de­tails for the in­tro­duc­tion of its ul­tra-high-speed fi­ber in its home­town of Dal­las, AT&T Inc. said Mon­day that it plans to be­gin talks with of­fi­cials in about 20 met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas about bring­ing the ser­vice to their com­mu­ni­ties. AT&T al­ready of­fers the ser­vice, called U-verse with GigaPower, in some ar­eas of Austin, Texas. Pitts­burgh was not on the short list of cit­ies un­der con­sid­er­ation.

Apple unveils free recycling of all its devices

Apple is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centers with renewable energy. The Cupertino, Calif., company added an environmental section to its website Monday.

From staff and wire reports

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