Business Briefs: Fewer hospital-acquired infections in Pa. in 2011

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Fewer hospital-acquired infections in Pa. in 2011

Hospital-acquired infections statewide decreased more than 3 percent in 2011, according to the annual report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health released Wednesday. The report is based on the number of infections that were catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central-line blood stream infections and six types of surgical site infections. Those infections are generally considered indicators of hospitals' overall quality control for preventing infections.

State DCED opens Jakarta trade office

The Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development's Office of International Business Development opened a trade office in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday. The office will support Pennsylvania businesses seeking to export to Indonesia and will provide services to strengthen trade and investment between Indonesia and Pennsylvania. "We are proud to be the first U.S. state to open a trade office in Indonesia which will enable both Pennsylvania and Indonesia to benefit from a stronger trade relationship," DCED Secretary C. Alan Walker said.

Electronic payment services join forces

Pittsburgh-based Financial Transaction Services announced Wednesday it had acquired Dependable Payment Processing and Discount Payment Processing, two affiliated companies collectively known as DPP, which also are based in Pittsburgh and provide electronic payment processing solutions. The companies will operate from headquarters in Mars.

Magazine honors CEO of Huntington Bank

American Banker magazine named Huntington Bank CEO Stephen Steinour its Banker of the Year. Among other things, the publication cited him for beefing up lending to small businesses and introducing 24-hour grace, a program that gives customers 24 hours to make good on an overdraft before being hit with fees.

New-home sales slipped 0.3 percent in October

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new-home sales dipped 0.3 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 368,000. That's down marginally from the 369,000 pace in September, which was revised lower from an initially reported 389,000. Sales were still 17 percent higher in October than the same month in 2011. Even with the gain, new-home sales are well below the annual rate of 700,000 that economists consider healthy. The median price of a new home sold in October was $237,700. That's down 4.2 percent from September but 5.7 percent higher than October 2011.

Getco offers to buy Knight

Four months after a major software malfunction at Knight Capital Group roiled markets and threatened the company's survival, rival trading firm Getco has stepped in with an offer to buy Knight at a steep premium. Getco's cash-and-stock offer values Knight shares at $3.50 -- a 41 percent premium over the closing price on Nov. 23 -- but a fraction of the company's worth before the meltdown.

MoneyGram settlement includes victim fund

A judge in Harrisburg gave his approval Wednesday to a settlement of fraud charges against MoneyGram International Inc., including the establishment of a $100 million victim compensation fund. Prosecutors have said the Dallas-based payment services provider turned a blind eye to scam artists and money launderers, and failed to act against agents linked to fraud schemes.

Groupon CEO responds to reports of shakeup

Groupon Inc. CEO Andrew Mason, responding to reports that the board is discussing a possible leadership change, said he'd fire himself if he wasn't suited to the task. "It would be weird if the board wasn't discussing whether I'm the right guy to do the job, and it's their chief responsibility to ask that question," Mr. Mason, a Mt. Lebanon native, said at a New York conference organized by Business Insider. "If I ever thought I wasn't the right guy for the job I'd be the first guy to fire myself."

Earnings

• American Eagle Outfitters' shares rose 7 percent Wednesday, after the South Side company reported third quarter net income of $78.6 million, or 39 cents per share, compared to $52.4 million, or 27 cents per share, last year. Excluding a loss from the discontinued 77kids business, income from continuing operations rose 37 percent to 41 cents per share, compared to 30 cents last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had been looking for 39 cents per share.

The teen retailer said sales in the three months ended Oct. 27 rose 11 percent to hit $910 million in the third quarter. Sales at stores that have been open at least a year were up 10 percent.

The holiday season is off to a good start, with "record" sales over the Thanksgiving weekend, the company said. Officials project earnings per share from continuing operations in the range of 54 to 56 cents per share in the fourth quarter, while analysts are looking for 55 cents. For the fiscal year, the company is targeting earnings per share from continuing operations in the range of $1.38 to $1.40, exceeding the consensus Wall Street target of $1.37.

• rue21, the Cranberry-based value teen clothing retailer, said after the market closed Wednesday that "record" sales over the Black Friday weekend got the holiday season off to a good start, although litigation expenses pulled down third quarter results.

In the quarter ended Oct. 27, rue21 reported net income of $8.2 million, or 33 cents per share. That would have looked stronger against last year's $8.7 million profit, or 35 cents per share, if not for a $2.9 million pre-tax litigation expense related to the costs of settling wage and hours claims in California. Excluding that expense, net income would have been $10 million, or 41 cents per share. Analysts were looking for 39 cents per share.

A 15.6 percent sales gain to $225.2 million was credited to the addition of new stores and a 0.2 percent sales increase in stores that have been open at least a year.

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