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Business news briefs — Feb. 26

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LOcal BuSINESS

Insurer stays silent on offer

Executives at Richfield specialty insurer National Interstate Corp. declined to comment on a pending tender offer as part of an industry analyst conference call on Wednesday.

National Interstate reported fourth quarter and fiscal 2013 earnings after the stock market closed Tuesday. National Interstate had net income of $8.6 million, or 43 cents per share,for the fourth quarter and net income of $17.6 million, or 89 cents per share for the full year. Gross premiums written for the year totaled $631.9 million.

The company discussed those results Wednesday morning in a public conference call.

The company’s majority shareholder, Cincinnati-based American Financial Group, is offering $30 per share to buy out the rest of National Interstate. But the process is being opposed by company founder Alan Spachman, mutual fund firm T. Rowe Price Associates and others.

gambling

Nevada links with Delaware

Nevada and Delaware announced they are linking their new online poker operations, a step that will let players in both states gamble at the same virtual tables. The agreement develops a framework for the expansion of online betting to include other states, according to a statement issued by both governors. Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey are the first three states to legalize online gambling. Betting is limited to players physically in those states.

Under the agreement, each state would collect its own mandated gambling tax, according to A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board. Details still to be worked out include the creation of two bodies that will act as overseers of the agreement, he said. Each state will collect its own taxes from its own players, Burnett said.

AIRLINES

Rewards program changed

Delta Air Lines Inc., breaking with tradition among the major U.S. carriers, is shifting its frequent-flier plan so passengers earn awards based on the price of tickets instead of how far they travel.

Each dollar spent on a fare will earn rewards of five to 11 miles, Delta said, rather than the usual practice of getting a mile of credit for each mile flown. The highest total will go to SkyMiles members with elite status, Atlanta-based Delta said. The changes take effect Jan. 1.

EARNINGS

Earnings rise 6% at Lowe’s

Lowe’s Cos. earned $306 million, or 29 cents per share, for the period ended Jan. 31. That’s up 6 percent from $288 million, or 26 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding what were called impairment charges, earnings were 31 cents per share. That matched the expectations of analysts polled by FactSet. Revenue rose 6 percent to $11.66 billion from $11.05 billion. Wall Street forecast $11.67 billion.

For the full year, Lowe’s earned $2.29 billion, or $2.14 per share. In the prior year it earned $1.96 billion, or $1.69 per share. Annual revenue rose 6 percent to $53.42 billion from $50.52 billion. Looking ahead, the company foresees fiscal 2014 earnings of about $2.60 per share, with revenue rising about 5 percent. Based on fiscal 2013’s revenue of $53.42 billion, that implies about $56.1 billion. Analysts expect earnings of $2.64 per share on revenue of $56.19 billion.

B&W profits up

Babcock & Wilcox Co., which has operations in Barberton, reported fourth quarter net income of $166 million, or $1.48 a share, compared with $36.9 million, or 33 cents a share, for the same period a year before. For 12 months, B&W had profits of $346 million, or $3.07 a share, up from $228 million, or $1.91, a share. Revenues totaled $803 million, a decrease of $62.5 million, or 7.2 percent, from the fourth quarter of 2012.

HOME SALES

New construction increases

Purchases of new U.S. homes unexpectedly climbed in January to the highest level in more than five years, showing underlying strength in the industry even in the midst of unusually harsh weather.

Sales increased 9.6 percent to a 468,000 annualized pace, exceeding the highest estimate of economists and the most since July 2008, figures from the Commerce Department showed.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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