Business Briefs: Orphan's Court approves Highmark-WPAHS deal

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Orphan's Court approves Highmark-WPAHS deal

The Allegheny County Orphan's Court on Thursday approved insurer Highmark Inc.'s affiliations with West Penn Allegheny Health System and Jefferson Regional Medical Center. The partnership with West Penn Allegheny is still under review by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Highmark, which intends to build its own integrated health care delivery system, has committed up to $100 million to fund capital projects at Jefferson Regional, as well as $75 million to Jefferson's foundation.

Mylan recalls acid reducer

Mylan Pharmaceuticals is recalling 1,894 bottles of 500-count capsules of the stomach acid reducer lansoprazole because the bottles may contain topiramate tablets, an anticonvulsant used to treat seizures, according to a Food and Drug Administration enforcement report Thursday. The nationwide recall, initiated Jan. 30, involves lot number 1110829 with an expiration date of May 2014.

Electronic pet reborn as app

Tamagotchi is re-hatching as an app. Bandai Co. and Sync Beatz Entertainment are hoping to revive the electronic pet craze of the 1990s with a new mobile app that launched Thursday for Android devices. Much like the original toy, the app tasks users with taking care of a virtual pet by pressing buttons that simulate feeding, disciplining and playing with the critter on screen.

Local Earnings

• GNC Holdings, Inc. on Thursday reported fourth quarter revenue grew 10.9 percent over the same period a year ago to $565 million. The Pittsburgh-based health and wellness retailer saw annual revenue increase 17.3 percent over 2011 to $2.43 billion. The company's earnings per share jumped 53.3 percent to $2.33 in 2012.

In an audio press briefing, Joe Fortunato, president, CEO and board chairman, said 2012 was "a year of tremendous execution and financial performance across every segment of the business" and expressed optimism about the company continuing that momentum with the launch of its new "Respect Yourself" marketing campaign. GNC's board also authorized the repurchase of up to $250 million in GNC stock. GNC stock ended Thursday up $3.69 at $39.66.

• Koppers Holdings' fourth quarter and year-end results were boosted by strong volumes for its railroad and utility pole products. Downtown-based Koppers, which produces chemicals as well as treated wood products, said fourth-quarter net income jumped to $13.6 million, or 65 cents per share, from a loss of $14.2 million, or 69 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2011. Sales increased by 2 percent to $374.9 million from $369 million a year ago. Adjusted net income was $13.9 million, or 66 cents per share, beating analysts' average estimate of 60 cents. For the year, net income was $65.6 million, or $3.14 per share, up from $36.9 million, or $2.72 per share in 2011. Sales for all of 2012 totaled $1.6 billion, compared with $1.5 billion in 2011.

Fewer U.S. homes entered foreclosure in January

The number of U.S. homes entering the foreclosure process fell in January to a level not seen since the peak of the housing boom, a consequence of a package of state laws aimed at stemming foreclosures that went into effect in California at the beginning of the year. So-called foreclosure starts declined 28 percent nationally last month from January 2012, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Chrysler adds 278,000 trucks to axle recall

Chrysler said Thursday that it is recalling 278,000 pickup trucks and SUVs because their rear axles can lock up unexpectedly. The recall covers many Ram 1500 pickups from the 2009 through 2012 model years as well as Dodge Dakota pickups from 2009 through 2011. Also included are Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango SUVs from 2009.

From staff and wire reports

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