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Stock of Akron-based Signet Jewelers plunges on newspaper report detailing sexual harassment claims

By Katie Byard Published: February 28, 2017

Shares of Signet Jewelers Inc., headquartered in Akron, are plunging this morning, following a report released Monday evening by the Washington Post about allegations of widespread sexual harassment at the company.


Shares were down $7.03. to $65.83 around 10:40 a.m.

That’s below the prior 52-week low of $67.43 for the company that bills itself as the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry.

At 10:42 a.m. today, shares were down 30.1 percent from Jan. 1 and 33.5 percent from a year ago.

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Ramco Specialties in new joint venture with Swedish fastener maker

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 27, 2017

Hudson-based automotive industry fastener maker Ramco Specialties Inc. is co-creating a new company with a Swedish fastener firm.
The new company, Ram-Bul LLC, is being formed in conjunction with Bulten, a fastener manufacturer in Gothenburg, Sweden. Ramco and Bulten have a partnership arrangement in Europe.
The two companies have equal owner in the joint venture, which will begin operations this year and be based at Ramco’s Hudson campus. Ram-Bul will offer sales and distribution of fasteners for the North American market.
The companies said they each will benefit from shared resources and capabilities that Ram-Bul offers.
Bulten also created a new production subsidiary, Bulten North America LLC, to introduce bolt manufacturing to Ramco in Ohio and expand Ramco’s manufacturing capabilities, the companies said in a press release.
 

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A. Schulman Inc. to reopen closed facility in Stryker as a distribution center

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 27, 2017

A. Schulman Inc. in Fairlawn is opening a new distribution center in Stryker, Ohio.
The plant, part of Schulman’s 2014 acquisition of Ferro Specialty Plastics, will serve customers in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.
The facility was closed in 2015 and, when it reopens, will offer warehousing and repackaging services and provide faster delivery times, Schulman said in a release.
Schulman said the Stryker distribution center will begin operating before June 30. Schulman supplies resins, plastic compounds and related materials. 

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Akron area companies win local ADDY advertising awards

By Katie Byard Published: February 27, 2017

The annual Akron ADDY awards took place Friday at the Akron Civic Theatre, honoring the best of local advertising work.


The Akron Chapter of the American Advertising Federation sponsored the event, which is the first of three steps in a national competition organized by the federation. Winners of the major categories are:

Best of show: Geometry Global, Akron office; Student Best of Show: Megan Steele, University of Akron; Judges’ choice: Geometry Global , Todd Biss Productions of Akron and WhiteSpace of Akron; Gold award winners: 6 Brothers Marketing Communications, Hudson (3); 427 Design, Akron (3); Black Walnut Letterpress, Kirtland (1); Geometry Global (7);  Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, Akron (2); ipsoCreative, Akron (1); Kent State University (1); Kleidon & Associates,  Fairlawn (1); National Inventors Hall of Fame, Lake Township (1); Pritt Entertainment Group, Akron (2); Power Media, Akron (1); Red Point Digital, Akron (5); SkyCatchFire, Jackson Township (4); Todd Biss Productions (3); Triad, Cuyahoga Falls (1); WhiteSpace (3); Student Gold Addy Awards: Megan Steele, Caitlin Kane, CheTawni Miller, Mikayla Murnane-Donaldson, all of the University of Akron.

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Free tax-help appointments are available at University of Akron's Polsky Hall

By Katie Byard Published: February 24, 2017

Appointments are available for free federal and state income tax preparation assistance at the University of Akron’s Polsky Hall, 225 S. Main St., Room 550N in downtown Akron.
The program is available to the public.  
Appointments, which must be made ahead of time, are available from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and 1 to 7 p.m. Thursdays. To make an appointment, go to www.uakron.edu/cba/departments/accountancy/vita.dot and scroll down to “Vita registration page” and click on the link.  
Those seeking help with their taxes — and determining if they are eligible to receive an Earned Income Tax Credit — can get help from trained volunteers at this site that is a partnership of the AARP and UA’s School of Accountancy

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FirstEnergy reports loss of $6.2 billion for 2016

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: February 21, 2017

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. on Tuesday said it lost $6.2 billion last year, compared to a profit in 2015 of $578 million.

The electric utility said the loss reflects “asset impairment and plant exit costs, including charges related to the company’s decision to exit competitive operations by mid-2018.”

The company has previously said it would exit the competitive generation business in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. The company has said options include moving power plants into a regulated entity or filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and reorganization for its debt-laden FirstEnergy Solutions.

"In 2016, we achieved our financial targets, made significant progress on our regulated growth plans, and began an important strategic review that is designed to support our transition into a fully regulated company," said Charles E. Jones, FirstEnergy president and chief executive officer in a press release.  "We continue to focus on this transformation, which will allow us to best serve our customers while providing predictable growth to investors."

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Goodyear's new inflatable California blimp hangar will be largest of its kind in world

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 17, 2017

Goodyear will put up a new blimp hangar at its Carson, Calif., blimp base.
And like its airships, the hangar will be inflatable, too.
The new hangar will be built to house Wingfoot Two, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s newest semi-rigid airship that currently is at the Akron tire maker’s Suffield Township blimp base. The airship is scheduled to fly to its permanent base in Southern California by the end of this year.
The new 370-foot-long hangar will be made with layers of a PVC-coated polyester fabric – 73 miles of fabric in all – anchored to the ground using concrete ballast blocks. The air-containing skin, which will weigh 30,000 pounds, will provide the structural strength while also allowing the hangar to flex and move to resist such things as wind.
Goodyear said once the hangar is built it will be the world’s largest stressed-skin inflatable structure in the world. The hangar will be 88 feet high and 136 feet wide.
It will take about seven months for manufacturer Lindstrand Technologies to make the hangar and one day to install it, Goodyear said.
Goodyear will also build an inflatable maintenance building at the California base. The company said these and other improvements will be the most significant upgrades to the site in 50 years.
“At Goodyear, we honor tradition and drive toward innovation,” Paul Fitzhenry, senior vice president, global communications, said in a statement. “We are proud to usher in this new era of our world-renowned brand icon and look forward to operating the new blimp in our Carson base.” 

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TimkenSteel shares soar on outlook, price increases even as company lost money for quarter and year

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 17, 2017

Shares in TimkenSteel Corp. soared on Friday even though the Canton steelmaker reported it lost money in its fourth quarter and for its full fiscal year.
The company said it expects to have a stronger 2017, a year in which it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of starting up its first steel mill in Canton. The company also announced it was increasing steel prices.
Shares were up $2.20, or 12.4 percent, to $19.92 as of 2:50 p.m.
TimkenSteel reported it lost $67 million, or $1.52 a share, on revenue of $214.7 million for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31. That compares to a loss of $13.8 million, or 31 cents per share, on revenue of $206.6 million a year ago.
The company reported earnings after the stock market closed Thursday.
For fiscal 2016, TimkenSteel said it lost $105.5 million, or $2.39 a share, on revenue of $869.5 million. That compares to a loss of $45 million, or $1.01 per share, on revenue of $1.1 billion for fiscal 2015.
Adjusted earnings showed an improvement over 2015, the company said. In addition, the company had decent operating cash flow and a stronger balance sheet, its top executive said. The company has broadened its portfolio and has even started supplying billets to other steelmakers, said Tim Timken, chairman, chief executive officer and president.
In addition, TimkenSteel said it is seeing signs of increasing demand in its steel markets, including energy, industrial and other areas.
“Throughout 2016, we structurally improved the operating performance of the company in the face of weak global commodity markets and high customer inventory levels. We used that down period to aggressively manage costs, generate cash, increase our share in key markets and broaden our portfolio of business,” Timken said in a statement. “We expect 2017 to be a better year, starting off with projected sales in the first quarter that are higher than the typical seasonality. “
Every action the company took in 2016 made TimkenSteel a stronger company, Timken said in a conference call Friday with analysts.
 

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Saint-Gobain named a top North America employer

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 14, 2017

Global manufacturer Saint-Gobain, which has a significant presence in Northeast Ohio, has been named a top employer in North America for the second consecutive year by the Top Employers Institute in the Netherlands.
The institute assesses companies based on talent strategy, workforce planning, learning and development, performance management, leadership development, compensation and benefits, and other factors.
Saint-Gobain, a building materials manufacturer, has more than 800 employees at Northeast Ohio facilities in Solon, Hiram and Stow; the company has about 14,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada.
 

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Diebold Nixdorf shares up strongly even as company posts loss

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 14, 2017

Shares of Diebold Nixdorf Inc. soared Tuesday even as the Green maker of ATMs reported losses for its fourth quarter and full fiscal year.
Diebold Nixdorf also said it expects to show a loss for all of 2017 — but a significant profit with adjusted earnings — as it continues to restructure and digest its $1.8 billion acquisition last August of German ATM maker Wincor Nixdorf.
Fourth quarter earnings met analyst expectations while revenue fell short.
Shares closed up $2.05, or 7.5 percent, to $29.25. Shares are up 16.5 percent since Jan. 1 and are up 27.2 percent from a year ago.
Diebold Nixdorf reported losing $77.8 million, or $1.04 a share, on fourth quarter revenue of $1.2 billion. That compares to net income of $32.6 million, or 50 cents per share, on revenue of $610.4 million a year ago.
Diebold said it had adjusted earnings of 32 cents per share when accounting for one-time factors, including adjustments related to its Wincor Nixdorf purchase.
“Our fourth quarter profits were in line with our previous guidance. Additionally, I’m pleased with our strong free cash flow performance during the period, which is a testament to our collaborative teamwork during the first full quarter for our newly combined company,” Andy W. Mattes, chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Reflecting on 2016, it was a year of tremendous strategic achievements, in which we took major steps to accelerate our transformation and reshape our business portfolio while increasing our scale, power to innovate, geographic footprint and customer reach.
In a conference call with analysts, Mattes noted that the fourth quarter was the first for the newly combined company. In addition, the company continues to transform into a technology and services-focused company, he said.
“You can see we have doubled the size of our company [which has] significantly enhanced our mix of revenue,” Mattes said. “First, services represent a $2.5 billion business for us, up from about $1.3 billion. Basically, our services business now is larger than either legacy company on a standalone basis, and we have the largest organization focused exclusively on the banking and retail industries with over 14,000 service professionals.”
Software revenue increased from about $110 million to $450 million, Mattes said. “Taken on its own, this would place our software business well within the top 100 software companies globally,” he said.
Diebold Nixdorf said it expects to lose between $30 million and $55 million, or 40 to 70 cents per share, this year on revenue of $5 billion to $5.1 billion. Adjusted income is expected to show a profit of $440 million to $470 million, or $1.40 to $1.70 per share.
 

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One in five homes with mortgages in Akron area are "seriously underwater," report says

By Katie Byard Published: February 13, 2017

Roughly one in five homes with a mortgage in the Akron metropolitan statistical area — Summit and Portage counties — were “seriously underwater” at the end of last year, according to a new report.

The Akron metropolitan area had the third-greatest share of “seriously underwater” properties — homes where the combined loan amount secured by the property was at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value, according to data compiled by Attom Data Solutions (formerly called RealtyTrac).

Among 88 metropolitan statistic areas (MSAs) with a population of at least 5000,000 and sufficient home value and loan data, Las Vegas had the highest share of “seriously underwater” properties: 22.7 percent.

The next four MSAs are all in Ohio. They are Cleveland (21.5 percent); Akron (20.1 percent); Dayton (20 percent) and Toledo (19.9 percent).

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Timken Co. to pay dividend on March 3

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 10, 2017

The Timken Co. will pay a quarterly dividend of 26 cents per share on March 3 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 22.
That will be Timken’s 379th consecutive quarterly dividend paid since the Jackson Township company joined the New York Stock Exchange in 1922.

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Timken Co. shows quarterly, full-year profits after losses a year ago

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 9, 2017

Timken Co. showed a profit for its fourth quarter and full 2016 fiscal year, reversing losses a year ago.
The Jackson Township global manufacturer, which makes bearings and related power transmission products, reported on Thursday net income of $24.1 million, or 31 cents per share, on revenue of $654.8 million for the quarter ending Dec. 31.
That compares to a loss of $35.7 million, or 44 cents per share, on revenue of $714.4 million a year ago.
Timken beat analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue.
Shares were up 25 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $44.25 as of 2:29 p.m.
The company also said it expects 2017 revenue to be flat compared to 2016.
The lower fourth quarter revenue reflected weaker customer orders and unfavorable currency translation, the company said.
The higher net income was in part due to lower pension settlement charges and lower operating costs, Timken said.
Timken said it had adjusted net income of $36.7 million or 47 cents per share, compared to $49 million or 59 cents per share for the fourth quarter of 2015.
“We performed well in the fourth quarter, giving us a solid finish to the year,” Richard G. Kyle, Timken president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Despite the difficult market environment, we delivered historically strong earnings and cash flow in 2016, which is evidence of the structural improvements we’ve made to our business.”
For the full year, Timken had net income of $152.6 million, or $1.92 per share, on revenue of $2.7 billion. That compares to a loss of $70.8 million, or 84 cents per share, on revenue of nearly $2.9 billion for fiscal 2015.
Timken said along with expected flat revenue in 2017, the company anticipates earning $1.90 to $2 per share for the year.
Adjusted earnings for the year are anticipated to range from $2.05 to $2.15 a share, reflecting in large part the company’s adoption of mark-to-market pension accounting for its defined benefit pension and other postretirement benefit plans starting this year.
 

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Diebold Nixdorf announces dividend

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 9, 2017

Diebold Nixdorf Inc. in Green will pay a dividend of 10 cents per share on March 17 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 27. 

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Goodyear's 4th quarter rebounds strongly from loss a year ago

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 8, 2017

Goodyear turned around from a loss of $380 million a year ago to a solid profit of $561 million for its fourth quarter ending Dec. 31.
The Akron tire maker Wednesday morning said its positive results came despite lower revenue and slightly lower tire sales for its fiscal 2016 fourth quarter.
Shares were down 25 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $31.99 as of 2:35 p.m.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s fourth net income of $561 million, or $2.14 a share, came on revenue of $3.74 billion. That compares to a loss of $380 million, or $1.42 per share, on revenue of $4.06 billion a year ago.
Goodyear’s net income beat analyst expectations but fourth quarter revenue fell short. The company also said it expects its fiscal 2017 segment operating income to be flat compared to 2016, while reaffirming it is on track to meet its long-term 2020 targets. Global tire sales are expected to increase 1 percent over 2016 figures.
Goodyear said it had adjusted net income of $249 million, or 95 cents per share, compared to adjusted net income of $257 million, or 93 cents per share, for the 2015 fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter tire unit sales were down 2 percent from a year ago to 41.1 million. Replacement tire shipments fell 1 percent from a year ago. Original equipment unit volume was down 7 percent in large part because of weakness in the U.S. commercial truck market, the company said.
In Goodyear’s largest segment, its Americas unit that combines North and South America:
• Fourth quarter sales totaled $2.06 billion, down 10.9 percent from $2.3 billion a year ago.
• Tire unit sales totaled 18.7 million, down 4.6 percent from 19.6 million a year ago.
• Operating income was $295 million, up 3.9 percent from $284 million a year ago.
For the full year, Goodyear had net income of nearly $1.3 billion, or $4.74 a share, on revenue of $15.16 billion. That compares to net income of $307 million, or $1.12 a share, on revenue of $16.4 billion for 2015.
For all of 2016, tire sales were 166.1 million, the same as for 2015. Replacement tire shipments rose 2 percent from a year ago while original equipment tire volumes were down 4 percent.
The lower revenue for 2016 is largely because the company deconsolidated its Venezuela operations and also was hurt by foreign currency translation.
“We delivered solid net income and record core segment operating income in 2016, driven by strong performance in our Americas and Asia Pacific consumer tire businesses,” Richard J. Kramer, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Our results demonstrate continued sustainable earnings growth and disciplined execution of our strategy.”
Kramer said Goodyear expects increased raw material prices to create significant financial headwinds this year.
“We’ve demonstrated that we have been able to successfully offset raw material inflation over time,” he said. “We remain confident in our strategy of capturing profitable growth in key segments of the market and in delivering our 2020 targets.”
Goodyear also said its board authorized spending an additional $1 billion to repurchase shares, bringing total authorization in the company share repurchase program to $2.1 billion. Goodyear last year spent $500 million of the original $1.1 billion share purchase program.  

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Dominion to replace pipelines in Ravenna

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: February 7, 2017

Dominion East Ohio is replacing more than 6,000 feet of pipelines in Ravenna in a project totalling more than $1.53 million this spring.

The project to replace 1950-vintage bare steel pipeline with corrosion-resistant coated steel piping near the intersection of Hommon Avenue and Diamond Street is part of the utilitiy's massive Pipeline Infrastructure Replacement (PIR) project.

Launched in mid-2008, the $4 billion, 25-year project will involve the eventual replacement of more than 5,500 miles of the company's 22,000-mile pipeline system.  

The Ravenna project, scheduled to begin March 1, weather permitting, is scheduled to take 45 days, with a planned completion date of April 28, weather permitting.

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January Northeast Ohio new vehicle sales boosted by trucks, SUVs

By Jim Mackinnon Published: February 6, 2017

New vehicle sales for 2017 got off to a strong start in Northeast Ohio, with light truck and SUV sales outdoing cars.
Car and light truck and SUV sales for a 21-county region totaled 21,996 in January, up 11.3 percent from 19,770 a year ago, according to the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers’ Association. Nationally, new vehicle sales were flat to down slightly for the month.
“We are pleasantly surprised by bucking the national trend here in Northern Ohio for new vehicle sales,” Louis A. Vitantonio, association president, said in a statement. “We do realize the continued consumer preference for crossovers, SUVs and trucks is being driven by a number of factors including fuel cost and economy.”
Northeast Ohio light truck and SUV sales were up strongly in January, while car sales dropped 11.5 percent to 11,367 from 12,843 cars in January 2016.
Chevrolet was the top-selling brand in January with 3,549 sales, followed by Ford at 3,429, Honda at 1,886, Toyota at 1,588 and Jeep at 1,531.
Vitantonio said the Cleveland auto dealers association expects new vehicle sales to plateau in coming months.
 

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Condo developer buys 78 acres in Stow for 220-unit complex

By Katie Byard Published: February 3, 2017

A condominium development company’s purchase of  78 acres of land west of state Route 8 in Stow was finalized Thursday.

The company, Universal Development of Girard, Ohio, plans to soon begin the construction of the first phase of a 220-unit condominium development on the property, near Gilbert Road and Gilbert Lane and the Walmart off Graham Road.

A representative for Universal Development has said the company’s investment will be “well in excess of $20 million” over the next four to five years, according to Jennifer Fernandez, with NAI Cummins real estate of Akron. Fernandez brokered the sale.

The complex, to be completed in phases, will be comprised of 55 four-condominium buildings, including 41 one-story buildings and 14 two-story buildings. Universal Development expects to offer the units for $200,000 a piece.

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School-uniform store Schoolbelles closes Fairlawn location; seeking new site

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: February 3, 2017

School-uniform store Schoolbelles has closed its Fairlawn store and is looking for another location in the Akron-area to open by the spring. In the meantime, the company, which offers uniforms for many Akron-area parochial, charter and public schools, is offering a 15 percent discount and free shipping. See full story here.

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Plans for Rover pipeline -- which would run through Stark and Wayne counties -- approved by FERC

By Katie Byard Published: February 3, 2017

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a multibillion dollar plan to build the Rover natural gas pipeline, which would run through  Stark and Wayne counties in Northeast Ohio.

FERC wrote that the benefits Rover and the related projects “will provide to the market outweigh any adverse effects on existing shippers, other pipelines and their captive customers, and on landowners and surrounding communities.”

The $4.2 billion pipeline is intended to transport as much as 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas daily from the Marcellus and Utica shales in Pennsylvania and Ohio to market hubs.

Rover is a subsidiary of Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners.
Energy Transfer is the company behind the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. Last month, President Donald Trump signed orders that allow work to go forward on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which was stalled in the Obama administration.

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Many area residents can get taxes prepared for free; Saturday walk-in events start Feb. 4

By Katie Byard Published: February 3, 2017

Saturday -- Feb. 4 -- marks the first of several Super Refund Saturday walk-in events in which area local low- to moderate-income taxpayers can get their taxes prepared for free.

This Saturday’s event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  at Akron Summit Community Action Agency at 670 West Exchange St. on Akron’s west side.

No appointment is needed.

At the Super Refund events taxpayers also can find out if they are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This year, the credit is worth as much as $6,269.

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