Business news briefs: Moody's downgrades bond rating for WPAHS

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Moody's downgrades bond rating for WPAHS

Moody's Investors Service has downgraded West Penn Allegheny Health System's bond rating to Ca from Caa1, citing "the severity of the financial status of the System and our belief that there is a high likelihood of a restructuring or bankruptcy." The rating affects $726 million of Series 2007 fixed rate bonds. WPAHS is currently in discussions with Highmark, Inc. officials about their affiliation agreement, which is awaiting approval by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The Moody's report said that, in addition to WPAHS completing its planned affiliation with Highmark, a ratings upgrade would require "significant and sustained improvement in operating cash flow for several years, at least stability in volumes, significant growth in unrestricted cash, stability or growth in medical staff."

Consumers should expect increase in banking fees

Consumers nationwide can expect to pay higher banking fees in the coming years as the industry contends with years of record low interest rates and the costs of increased regulations, according to William Demchak, president of PNC Financial Services Group. "We've trained consumers for 25 years that banking is a free service. Rates and government has taken that away," Mr. Demchak told analysts during an investor conference in New York Tuesday. He said the trend toward higher fees was "just starting" with free checking disappearing across the country, although PNC and most big banks in the Pittsburgh region still offer the accounts.

Suit alleging BNY Mellon misled clients settled

Bank of New York Mellon's Ivy Asset Management reached a $210 million settlement with the state of New York resolving charges that it misled clients who invested with convicted Ponzi scheme king pin Bernard Madoff. The state, which sued in 2010, alleged Ivy concealed negative information it learned about Madoff to keep collecting fees.

PMC purchases another Downtown building

PMC Property Group has snatched up another building Downtown. The Philadelphia developer paid $1.5 million for the 10-story Jackman Building at 526 Penn Ave., according to Allegheny County Department of Real Estate records. PMC bought the largely vacant property from Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile, with plans to convert the upper floors to apartments. It's the fifth building Downtown PMC has acquired or is in the process of doing so over the last two years.

Small business confidence increases to 5-month high

Confidence among U.S. small businesses rose to a five-month high in October as more companies projected a pickup in sales, a survey found. The National Federation of Independent Business's optimism index increased 0.3 point last month to 93.1 from 92.8 in September. The Washington-based group said a record 23 percent said they were "uncertain" about economic conditions in the next six months as a lack of clarity surrounding tax and regulatory policies hampers hiring plans.

Microsoft Corp. changes leadership after disputes

Microsoft Corp. pushed out Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows operating system division, after clashes with executives, including Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, people with knowledge of the move said.

Earnings

• Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. beat analysts expectations in the third quarter, posting a profit of $50.1 million, or 40 cents per share, up from $41.5 million, or 33 cents, a year earlier. Analysts had been looking for 37 cents per share. The Findlay retailer credited both a 5.1 percent increase in sales at its established stores and the growth of its national store network with helping drive sales in the three months ended Oct. 27 up 11.2 percent to $1.3 billion. Officials said sales of guns and ammunition are picking up since the election, but both Hurricane Sandy and the National Hockey League lockout have put a damper on sales.

• AK Steel forecast a fourth quarter loss of 67 cents to 72 cents per share, saying lower raw materials prices will be offset by a 5 percent drop in steel prices. The West Chester, Ohio, steel producer reported a third quarter loss of $60.9 million, or 55 cents per share. The company said the forecast does not reflect a noncash, pension charge it expects to record for the fourth quarter. AK Steel also said it will sell 25 million shares of stock and $475 million in senior secured notes. Proceeds will be used to pay down its revolving credit line and for general corporate purposes.

• Dynavox, a South Side-based speech technology company, reported first quarter net losses of $300,000, or 2 cents per share, down from gains of $400,000, or 4 cents per share the same period last year. The company reported revenues of $18.6 million, down 29 percent from revenues of $26.2 million the same period last year.

Also in business...

Mylan Inc. said it received regulatory approval for the generic version of Pfizer Inc.'s Revatio, which is used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. ... Kennametal said Nike vice president Cindy L. Davis, 50, has been elected to its board of directors.

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