Business Briefs: Alcoa posts Q4 profit, meets analysts' estimates

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Alcoa posts Q4 profit, meets analysts' estimates

Alcoa reported a fourth quarter profit, reversing a loss from a year ago. The aluminum producer said it earned $242 million, or 21 cents per share, in the fourth quarter on sales of $5.9 billion vs. a loss of $191 million, or 18 cents per share, and sales of $6 billion in the year-ago quarter. Excluding a $161 million gain from the sale of a U.S. hydroelectric power plant and other one-time items, Alcoa earned 6 cents per share, in line with analysts estimates. For 2012, Alcoa reported net income of $191 million, or 18 cents per share, vs. 2011 earnings of $611 million, or 55 cents per share. Sales fell 5 percent to $23.7 billion. The results reflect a 12 percent drop in aluminum prices from 2011 levels.

London company buys Moon nuclear services firm

PKMJ Technical Services, a Moon nuclear engineering services company, has been acquired by London-based Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, a power systems company with operations around the world, the companies announced Tuesday. PKMJ, which employs about 100 people, helps nuclear firms measure equipment obsolescence and increase the reliability of reactor parts. It will join the Rolls-Royce nuclear division. Terms were not disclosed.

Former Baker CEO received $1.1 million

Michael Baker disclosed former president and CEO Bradley L. Mallory received severance payments and stock valued at $1.1 million based on a Dec. 31 separation agreement he signed with the Moon engineering company. Mr. Mallory resigned Dec. 13 at the request of Baker's board of directors. He received cash payments of $430,498 and 28,362 Baker shares valued at the time at $707,065.

Herbein & Co. acquires Camp Hill-based firm

Accounting firm Herbein & Co. has acquired Financial Outsourcing Solutions from McKonly & Asbury of Camp Hill. All of Financial Outsourcing's 28 employees will be retained, Herbein said. The deal brings Herbein's employee count to 142. Herbein is headquartered in Reading, with regional offices in Pittsburgh and Greensburg.

Pa. DCED lowers rates for business programs

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has reduced interest rates for five business loan programs. Rates for the Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund, the Small Business First Program, the Pollution Prevention Assistance Program and the Export Financing program have been reduced from 2.75 percent to 1.50 percent. The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority also lowered rates to 1.50 percent and PIDA and DCED will waive fees charged to borrowers. The new rates go into effect for applications received through March 31.

IRS will begin processing individual returns Jan. 30

The Internal Revenue Service will start processing individual income tax returns for 2012 on Jan. 30, originally planned for Jan 22. The delay results from Congress passing last- minute changes to tax law on Jan. 1.

Consumer borrowing rose by $16B in November

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that consumers increased their borrowing in November by $16 billion from October to a seasonally adjusted record of $2.77 trillion. Borrowing that covers autos and student loans increased $15.2 billion. A category that measures credit card debt rose just $817 million.

Anheuser-Busch to debut new amber lager

Anheuser-Busch InBev said Tuesday that is introducing a new specialty beer -- an amber lager with a higher alcohol content. Budweiser Black Crown will make its debut with a 30-second ad on Feb. 3 during Super Bowl XLVII, though the beer will be available starting Jan. 21.

Lampert will lead Sears beginning in February

Sears Holdings Corp. Chairman Edward Lampert has chosen himself as the ailing retailer's fifth chief executive officer in seven years. Mr. Lampert, 50, will take over on Feb. 2, when Lou D'Ambrosio officially steps down because of a health matter in his family, Sears said in a statement. Mr. Lampert bought Kmart Holding Corp. out of bankruptcy in 2003, then put it together with Sears, Roebuck & Co. in March 2005.

No bonus for McClendon of Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s board withheld chief executive officer Aubrey McClendon's annual bonus after investors criticized the performance and management of the second-biggest U.S. natural gas producer. The Oklahoma City-based driller lost $1.07 billion during the first nine months of last year while net debt ballooned by 56 percent during that period to $16.1 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Also in business ...

A U.S. safety agency has cleared the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee after an investigation into possible engine fires.

From staff and wire reports

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