Business Briefs: 5/6/14

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Keystone State ranks low on working mothers study

Pennsylvania ranked 42nd out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in a study of locations conducive for working mothers. The study, conducted by WalletHub, based the results on metrics including quality and cost of day care, public school quality, parental leave policies and gender pay disparity. Oregon topped the list as best, and Louisiana was last.

Local Earnings

• Koppers Holdings said harsh winter weather contributed to lower first-quarter sales and income. The Downtown-based chemicals and railroad products company said net income dropped by 80 percent to $2.2 million, or 11 cents per share, from $11 million, or 53 cents per share in the first quarter of 2013. Sales fell by 11 percent to $331.4 million.

Besides weather conditions, Koppers said its results were negatively impacted by $17.2 million in plant closure charges for chemicals plants in The Netherlands and China, lower prices for some chemicals, consulting charges for acquisitions, and startup costs for a joint venture in China.

Adjusted income before the charges was $6.6 million, or 32 cents per share, missing analysts’ estimates that ranged from 43 cents to 62 cents. Adjusted income a year ago was $11.2 million, or 54 cents per share.

Also, Koppers said Leroy Ball has been named to the new position of chief operating officer. Mr. Ball, 45, will retain his current responsibilities as chief financial officer until a successor to that position is named.

Service sector grows at fastest pace since August

The Institute for Supply Management says its service-sector index rose to 55.2 in April from 53.1 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Sotheby's reaches deal with activist investor Loeb

Auction house Sotheby’s says it agreed to expand its board to add directors from activist investor Daniel Loeb’s slate. Sotheby’s will add Mr. Loeb, CEO of hedge fund Third Point, as well as former investment banker Olivier Reza and restructuring expert Harry J. Wilson to its slate of directors up for election at its annual shareholder meeting later this month. Third Point is Sotheby’s largest shareholder with a 9.6 percent stake.

From staff and wire reports

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