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Business news briefs — Jan. 6


Schulman earnings up

Net income from continuing operations for A. Schulman Inc., the Fairlawn-headquartered resins compunder, rose to $12.4 million or 43 cents a share for the first quarter. That’s up from $11.8 million or 40 cents a share for the first quarter a year ago.

The company reported late Monday that adjusted net income for the first quarter was $16.7 million, or 57 cents a share. That’s up 14 percent from $14.6 million for the year-ago quarter.

The 2014 first-quarter results beat expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who forecast earnings of 47 cents a share.

First-quarter sales increased to $585.4 million, up 10 percent from $532.1 million last year.

Joseph M. Gingo, chairman and CEO, said in prepared remarks, “We are extremely encouraged by our strong start to fiscal 2014 and expect to continue the trend of earnings improvement.”

The company named James Irwin its senior director of corporate business development. This is a newly created position in which Irwin will be responsible for mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.

Irwin previously was with Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. of Cleveland, where he served in various merger and acquisition and business development roles.

Schulman also declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 20 cents a share, payable Feb. 3 to shareholders of record Jan. 17.


Service sector report

Service companies expanded at a steady but slightly slower pace in December as sales dipped and new orders plunged to a four-year low. The report suggests that growth may remain modest in the coming months.

The Institute for Supply Management said its service-sector index fell to 53 last month, down from 53.9 in November. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. A measure of new orders plummeted 7 points to 49.4, the first time it has dropped below 50 since July 2009. But a gauge of hiring increased 3.3 points to 55.8, evidence that services firms are adding more jobs.

The survey covers businesses that employ 90 percent of the workforce, including retail, construction, health care and financial services firms.


Coated paper deal

Verso Paper Corp. agreed to buy NewPage Holdings Inc. for $1.4 billion, adding to its coated paper production. NewPage shareholders will get $900 million in cash and debt as well as Verso stock, the Memphis, Tenn.-based company said.

GE expands unit

General Electric said it will buy some assets from Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. for about $1.06 billion to expand its life sciences unit. GE Healthcare will acquire Thermo Fisher’s cell culture, gene modulation and magnetic beads businesses. The purchase lets GE bolster its range of technologies for the discovery and manufacture of new medicines, vaccines and diagnostics. Margins and earnings at the company’s health-care unit, which accounts for about 13 percent of the company’s total revenue, should improve this year, GE said. Thermo Fisher, the world’s biggest supplier of lab testing equipment by market value, agreed to sell the businesses in November to help get European regulatory approval for its $13.6 billion deal to buy Life Technologies Corp., which makes genetic testing and mapping equipment.


Walmart policy questioned

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. didn’t properly inspect products it purchased, leading to fox DNA being found in meat sold as donkey, China National Radio reported, citing the country’s provincial food regulator. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration told Walmart to compensate the people affected and establish a DNA testing system for food as quickly as possible, the broadcaster said, citing meetings between executives and the agency.

Walmart said on Jan. 2 that it withdrew all products made by Dezhou Fujude Food Co. after finding fox DNA in the supplier’s products. The retailer is adding DNA tests of meat it sells in China and will compensate customers who bought the affected meat. The Shandong food regulator told retailers on Dec. 29 to stop selling a donkey meat product made by Fujude because of the fox DNA.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.


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