Business Briefs: Axiall leaders confident

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Axiall leaders confident

Executives of Axiall Corp., the Atlanta-based company created through a merger of PPG Industries' commodity chemicals business and Georgia Gulf Corp., said the business is in "an excellent position" to take advantage of an economic recovery, particularly in the North American housing market. During a conference call with securities analysts Wednesday, Paul Carrico, chief executive, said he expects Axiall going forward to become a "leader in chemicals and building products." Axiall's chemicals are used in plastics, packaging, paper, pulp and other products and it makes vinyl materials for home construction and renovation. The company reported fourth-quarter net income of $32.3 million, or 92 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $3.3 million, or 10 cents per share for fourth quarter 2011. Fourth-quarter sales were $784.7 million, compared with $673.6 million the prior year. The merger was completed Jan. 28 and PPG shareholders own just over 50 percent of Axiall's stock.

K&L opens Houston office

K&L Gates opened an office in Houston, Texas, where it expects to have a strong focus on the energy sector. Founding partner of the new office is Charles Strauss, formerly a partner in the Houston office of Fulbright & Jaworski. The Houston location gives Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates 25 offices in the U.S. and 47 worldwide.

MSA profits rose in 2012

MSA reported increased profits for the fourth quarter and all of 2012 despite lower sales caused by the sale of two business units and weaker foreign currencies. The Cranberry safety products company said fourth quarter net income rose 15 percent to $19.5 million, or 52 cents per share, on sales of $294.1 million vs. earnings of $17 million, or 46 cents per share, and sales of $303.8 million in the year-ago quarter. For 2012, MSA reported record net income of $90.6 million, or $2.42 per share vs. 2011 earnings of $69.9 million, or $1.87 per share. Sales were flat at $1.17 billion.

U.S. companies restocked at slower pace in December

Business inventories ticked up 0.1 percent in December from November, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was below the 0.2 percent pace the previous month and the smallest increase since last June. Slower rebuilding of inventories means factories produced less, lowering overall economic output.

U.S. retail sales rise 0.1% after tax increase

Americans barely spent more last month at retail businesses and restaurants after higher taxes cut their paychecks. The small increase suggests consumer spending may be weak in the January-March quarter, which could hold back economic growth. Retail sales ticked up 0.1 percent in January from December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

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