Business Briefs: 4/25/14

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Highmark keeps its small businesses on insurance

Highmark, Inc. officials said Thursday that its small business clients can keep their current health insurance plans for at least another year. The announcement comes a month after federal officials said insurers, with state approval, could extend current plans rather be forced to offer more comprehensive -- and likely more expensive -- plans mandated under the Affordable Care Act. Highmark expects the move will affect nearly 200,000 members.

Pennsylvania PUC cites 23 ride share drivers

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has cited 23 drivers for operating ride sharing services without the proper licenses, a spokeswoman confirmed. Under Pennsylvania law, any driver being compensated for providing transportation is required to carry a certificate of public convenience. The drivers, all cited by the same PUC enforcement officer, were working for one of two San Francisco-based ride share companies, Lyft and Uber, which recently moved into Pittsburgh. The summary offense citations carry fines of between $25 and $300, and will be mailed to the recipients, said PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

PPG reveals new U.S. brand strategy

PPG Architectural Coatings Wednesday announced a new comprehensive brand strategy Wednesday that includes re-branding its U.S. company-owned paint stores, an expanded brand and product offering through independent company dealers and the expansion of a pro customer program at the Home Depot, according to a company statement.

Pittsburgh's growing startup scene recognized

Pittsburgh's reputation as a startup hub got another endorsement through Philadelphia-based ecommerce firm RJ Metrics. Using an analysis of tech meetup activity, Pittsburgh ranked as one of the top five fastest growing startup hubs in the nation. Portland, Minneapolis, Houston and Baltimore round out the top five.

Local earnings

• Federated Investors reported lower first quarter profits that fell short of analyst expectations. The Downtown investment manager said net income totaled $35.2 million, or 34 cents per share, vs. earnings of $43 million, or 41 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue fell 7 percent to $211.5 million. Analysts had forecast earnings of 37 cents and revenue of $219 million. Assets under management totaled $366.2 billion, down 3 percent from year-ago levels. First quarter results reflected a $29.7 million reduction in pre-tax income because of money market fees Federated waived.

• EQT Corp. reported net income of $192.2 million, or $1.26 per share, for the first three months of 2014. Last year during the same period, the Downtown-based oil and gas producer had a profit of $100.3 million, or 66 cents per share. Operating revenue for the quarter was $662 million, up from $416 million a year ago. EQT Midstream Partners, the company EQT Corp. spun out in 2012, also reported earnings Thursday morning, posting net income of $34.8 million, or 69 cents per share for the first quarter this year. That’s up from $26.8 million, or 68 cents per share last year.

• TriState Capital Holdings, parent company of Pittsburgh-based TriState Capital Bank, reported net income of $4.6 million, or 16 cents per share, for the first quarter. That was up from $2.9 million, or 13 cents, in the year-ago period.

• United-American Savings Bank, South Side, posted net income of $144,000, or 47 cents per share, for the three months ended March 31 vs. $167,000, or 57 cents, last year.

Durable goods orders up 2.6 percent in March

The Commerce Department says that orders for durable goods increased 2.6 percent in March following a 2.1 percent rise in February. Demand for core capital goods, considered a good guide for business investment plans, rose 2.2 percent in March after a 1.1 percent drop in February.

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