Business Briefs: Lawmakers to hold hearing on Highmark

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Monday hearing on Highmark

Democratic lawmakers are planning a Monday hearing on Highmark Inc.'s new Community Blue health insurance plan, examining why the plan's customers are losing access to UPMC's network of hospitals and physicians. The hearing, planned by the House Democratic Policy Committee, is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday in the Allegheny County Courthouse's Gold Room, at 436 Grant St., Downtown.

Casey urges Heinz caution

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is "strongly encouraging" the buyers of Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co. to minimize the effect of the $28 billion acquisition on employees in the region. Mr. Casey sent a letter to Bernardo Hees, the CEO of Miami-based Burger King Worldwide tapped to take over as Heinz CEO. Mr. Hees is a partner in 3G Capital, which is part of a joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway.

New home sales rose in March

U.S. sales of new homes rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The gain brought the level higher than February's pace of 411,000, though below January's 445,000 -- the fastest pace since July 2008. New-home sales are still below the 700,000 pace considered healthy by most economists, but the pace has increased 18.5 percent from 352,000 a year ago.

Earnings

Saxonburg laser and infrared optics maker II-VI Inc. announced net income of $15.8 million, or 25 cents per share, up from $13.9 million, or 22 cents per share, for the third quarter ended March 31. The company's revenues increased 9 percent from $132.5 million the third quarter of last year to $145.1 million this year.

• Indiana, Pa.-based S&T Bancorp said profits for the first quarter surged to $12.3 million, or 41 cents per share, from $3.5 million, or 12 cents, in the same three months last year as loan demand improved and the bank set aside less money to cover bad loans. Year-ago results were knocked back by costs associated with the takeover of Mainline Bank in Ebensburg.

• First Commonwealth Financial saw profits for the first quarter slip 5 percent to $10.6 million, down from $11.1 million a year earlier as revenue and expenses fell. Per-share earnings for the Indiana, Pa.-based bank were flat at 11 cents in both periods.

• FNB Corp., parent company of First National Bank of Pennsylvania, said first-quarter profit jumped 32 percent to $28.5 million, or 20 cents per share, up from $21.6 million, or 15 cents, in the same quarter last year. Net interest income rose 2 percent to $93.1 million while non-interest income rose 6 percent to $33.7 million.

US Airways bests expectations

US Airways earned $44 million, or 26 cents per share in the first quarter. Its adjusted profit was 31 cents per share, topping the expectations of analysts. Revenue rose 3.5 percent to $3.38 billion, driven by what the airline called "a strong demand environment." US Airways plans to merge with American Airlines, probably by the end of September.

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