Business news briefs for 8/4/10

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Mortgage rate a record low for 6th straight week

Mortgage rates set a record low for the sixth straight week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 4.54 percent in the week ended Tuesday from 4.56 percent last week, McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac said. The average 15-year rate was 4 percent, also a record in the data going back to 1971.

Gasoline price inches down from last week's

The average price of a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline at Pittsburgh-area pumps was $2.709 Tuesday, down less than a penny per gallon from last week's average of $2.71, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. A year ago, the average price was $2.586. The national average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline is $2.726. This time last year, the national average price was $2.549 per gallon.

Pittsburgh Glass in talks on joint Chinese venture

Pittsburgh Glass Works is in discussions about a possible joint venture with a Chinese auto parts maker. PGW, in which PPG Industries holds a minority stake, said it was in discussions with Xinyi Automobile Parts about a venture that would make automotive glass parts in China and for export to other markets. Xinyi supplies windshields, accessories and glass moldings.

Calgon Carbon earnings, price of shares fall

Shares of Calgon Carbon fell more than 8 percent Tuesday after the Robinson environmental services firm reported sharply lower second-quarter earnings, citing an $11.5 million pretax charge for losing a breach of contract lawsuit.

Net income totaled $2.9 million, or 5 cents per diluted share, vs. earnings of $6.1 million, or 11 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales rose 20 percent to $123.6 million.

Last week, a federal jury in Pittsburgh ordered Calgon Carbon to pay $12 million in damages to ADA-ES, which had claimed it was entitled to a commission on Calgon Carbon's 2008 sale of activated carbon to a U.S. power generator. The carbon was used to remove mercury from the plant's emissions.

Calgon Carbon shares finished Tuesday at $12.64, down $1.19. They are off 9 percent for the year.

Tollgrade Communications reports profit in quarter

Tollgrade Communications reported a net income of $1.2 million, or 10 cents per share, for the second quarter of the fiscal 2010 year, up from the $1.5 million and 12 cent losses reported that quarter one year ago.

Revenue for the quarter increased nearly $1 million to $11.5 million.

The Cheswick-based telecommunications company recently has seen some management shake-ups, with Edward Kennedy, president and chief executive officer, succeeding former CEO Joseph Ferrara in June. Severance costs for Mr. Ferrara's exit were approximately $0.6 million.

Tollgrade expects third-quarter revenues to be in the range of $11 million to $13 million.

Shares closed Tuesday at $6.65, up 4 cents.

Titanium producer RTI notes 2nd-quarter profit

RTI International Metals reported a second-quarter profit, but president and CEO Dawne S. Hickton said she was cautious about the titanium producer's prospects for the rest of the year.

The company reported net income of $10.2 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, vs. earnings of $125,000, or 1 cent per share, in the year-ago quarter. Sales increased 2 percent to $106.7 million.

Titanium mill product shipments during the quarter totaled 2.5 million pounds vs. 2.7 million pounds in the year-ago quarter. Average prices fell 13 percent.

Black Box net income rises in fiscal first quarter

Lawrence-based digital communications company Black Box Network Services saw net income of $13.1 million, or 75 cents per share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2011. That's up from the $7.8 million, or 44 cents, the same quarter one year ago.

Total revenues for the quarter were $264 million, up $29 million from last year. The company is targeting revenues of between $255 million and $260 million for the second quarter, with earnings per share between 76 cents and 81 cents.

Black Box shares closed yesterday at $31.37, up 47 cents.

Other earnings:

• HFF Inc. reported revenues of $34.1 million for the second quarter of 2010, an increase of $17.7 million compared to the second quarter of 2009 revenues of $16.4 million. The Downtown company had operating income of $5.2 million compared to a loss of $1.8 million for the second quarter last year, representing an increase of $7 million. HFF is a broker of commercial real estate nationwide

• Natural gas distribution company NiSource Inc. said it earned $28 million, or 10 cents per share, in the second quarter vs. a loss of $4 million, or 1 cent, in the same quarter last year. NiSource owns Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.


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