Business news briefs: West Penn bonds rating downgraded by S&P

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West Penn bonds rating downgraded by S&P

Standard & Poor's Rating has lowered its rating on West Penn Allegheny Health System bonds from B- to CC with a negative outlook. S&P said the downgrade, which affects $726 million in series 2007A bonds, is due to Pittsburgh insurer Highmark Inc.'s desire to have WPAHS restructure as the two pursue an affiliation agreement, as well as the health system's continuing weak financial performance, steady declines in patient volumes and a recent notification from the Securities and Exchange Commission that it may face civil penalties related to a 2009 disclosure to bondholders.

Consulting firm co-founder named Forbes Funds head

Kate Dewey, a veteran of nonprofit consulting and foundation work, has been named president of the Forbes Funds effective Jan. 1. She succeeds Diana Bucco, who becoming vice president of The Buhl Foundation. Ms. Dewey is the co-founder of Dewey & Kaye, a 22-year-old consulting firm now part of ParenteBeard LLC. Previously, she was manager of community affairs for Mellon Bank Corp., founding executive director of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania and founding director of the Allegheny County Child Sexual Abuse Task Force. The Forbes Funds, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Foundation, assists nonprofits with management and technical issues.

American Eagle moves up Q1 dividend payment

South Side teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters plans to move up the payment of its first quarter dividend by several months. The company said its board had declared a regularly quarterly dividend of 11 cents per share, as well as pushed up the payment of its first quarter dividend of 11 cents per share that would typically be paid in April. Shareholders of record Dec. 19 will received a 22 cents-per-share dividend Dec. 28. A number of companies have been moving payments into 2012 to avoid potential tax hikes that could come if Congress and President Barack Obama do not agree to stop them.

Kiplinger lists institutions with some top returns

Kiplinger magazine recently identified several financial institutions offering some of the best returns for savers looking to park some extra cash. The recommended list includes a money market account at Sallie Mae paying 1.05 percent; a Barclays online savings account earning 1 percent; and a money market account with AbleBanking yielding 0.96 percent. All of the accounts are federally insured. For the complete article, visit www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/where-to-stash-your-cash-now.html.

U.S. home price measure sees notable yearly gain

A measure of U.S. home prices rose 6.3 percent in October compared with a year ago, the largest yearly gain since July 2006. The jump adds to signs of a comeback in the once-battered housing market. Core Logic also said Tuesday prices declined 0.2 percent in October from September, the second drop after six straight monthly increases. The monthly figures are not seasonally adjusted. The real estate data provider says the decline reflects the end of the summer home-buying season. Steady price increases are helping fuel a housing recovery.

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