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Business news briefs — Dec. 6

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ENERGY

Ohio hits Utica milestone

Ohio has officially topped 1,000 Utica shale permits.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported that as of Nov. 30, Ohio has approved 1,006 Utica shale permits in eastern Ohio.

Of that total, 617 wells have been drilled and 250 are in production.

A total of 42 rigs are drilling in Ohio.

A total of 13 new permits were approved: one in Belmont County, three in Carroll County, three in Guernsey County, five in Harrison County and one in Washington County.

Those five Harrison County permits went to America Energy Utica LLC, the new company established by former Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon.

The permits, all in Nottingham Township, mark McClendon’s first permits with his new company in Ohio.

Fracking legal debate

The Colorado Oil & Gas Association sued the cities of Fort Collins and Lafayette claiming their voter-enacted bans on the extraction of oil and gas are pre-empted by state laws regulating those resources. The association seeks court orders permanently blocking the bans, according to copies of the complaints it provided.

Fort Collins voters on Nov. 5 chose to forbid all hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas for five years, according to the industry group’s complaint against the city, while Lafayette voters amended their city charter to bar oil and gas extraction.

PUBLISHING

Newsweek back in print

Newsweek, the struggling weekly magazine that ceased print publication last year, plans to turn the presses back on. The magazine will begin a 64-page, weekly edition in January or February.

FINANCE

PNC reaches settlement

PNC Financial Services Group Inc., the second-biggest U.S. regional bank, reached an $89 million settlement with Freddie Mac over mortgages sold to the government-backed firm in years leading up to the crisis.

The sum, minus credits of $8 million, covers existing and future refunds tied to about 900,000 loans between 2000 and 2008, Pittsburgh-based PNC said today in a statement. The deal also compensates for past and potential losses where mortgage insurance failed to cover the cost, PNC said. PNC bought Cleveland-based National City Corp., one of the nation’s biggest subprime home lenders, as the mortgage crisis unfolded.

EARNINGS

Bob Evans income falls

Higher-than-expected pork prices played havoc with Bob Evans Farms’ profit in the company’s fiscal second quarter. So did the costs of several projects, such as a new workforce management system and new manufacturing lines at two side-dish manufacturing plants, which combined in the quarter and eventually should make the New Albany-based restaurant and food-service company more efficient.

In all, Bob Evans net income fell 46 percent to $6.1 million, or 23 cents a diluted share, from $11.3 million, or 51 cents a diluted share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Net sales grew less than 1 percent to $332.6 million from $329.6 million over the same period. Notably, sales at restaurants open at least a year fell 1.9 percent from the year-ago quarter as the company adjusted its menu and absorbed lost sales when 66 restaurants were closed for remodeling.

LEGAL

AT&T complaint settled

A Pennsylvania woman who said AT&T improperly billed the government for millions of dollars in services has settled a federal lawsuit. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that AT&T paid $3.5 million to settle the case, though the company still denies wrongdoing.

The case was filed in 2010 by Constance Lyttle, a former AT&T employee from western Pennsylvania. She said she was fired because she sought to prevent international con artists from using a service for the hearing impaired. Lyttle received $525,000.

SHIPPING

FedEx to raise rates

FedEx will raise its FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery rates in January in addition to raising express shipping rates. The company said ground and home delivery rates will increased by an average of 4.9 percent on Jan. 6. FedEx SmartPost rates will also change.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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