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Business news briefs — July 15

LOCAL BUSINESS

Associated Materials filing

Privately held Associated Materials Group Inc. in Cuyahoga Falls has filed paperwork for an initial public offering of stock.

The siding and building materials company’s registration statement was filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company said it intends to use the proceeds of up to $100 million to redeem debt issued by subsidiary Associated Materials LLC. Company owner Hellman & Friedman LLC, through its investment funds, will continue to own a majority in Associated Materials, making it a “controlled company,” according to the SEC filing. H&F currently owns 97 percent of the company, according to the document.

The number of shares and initial price range have not yet been determined. The company’s registration statement said it intended shares to be traded either on the New York Stock Exchange or on the NASDAQ exchange.

Smucker hikes dividend

J.M. Smucker Co. of Orrville announced an increased quarterly dividend, from 52 cents to 58 cents a share. That is an increase of about 12 percent. The dividend is payable Sept. 3 to shareholders of record Aug. 16.

Allstate makes cuts

Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. home and auto insurer that has regional offices in Hudson, said Monday it’s cutting some retirement benefits for employees in a move that will increase the company’s book value by a range of $1.70 to $2 a share.

The adjustments include a new formula for calculating pensions and discontinuing retiree life-insurance benefits for current employees, Allstate said in a regulatory filing. A revaluation of book value, a measure of assets minus liabilities, is expected to be completed this quarter.

“These changes will provide more consistent benefits across employees” and reduce Allstate’s cost structure, according to the filing.

Chief Executive Officer Thomas Wilson, 55, has been seeking to pare costs as near-record low interest rates pressure income from the company’s bond portfolio and claims costs from natural disasters crimp profit. The insurer said this month that it was planning to close a call center in Woodbridge, Ill., after more inquiries were being handled by agencies.

Allstate “continues to provide employees with a strong and competitive benefit package,” Laura Strykowski, a spokeswoman, said in an email. The insurer provides employees with “both a pension and 401(k) plan. Today, just 30 percent of Fortune 100 companies offer both.”

ELECTRONICS

Microsoft drops tablet prices

Microsoft Corp. is slashing the price of its Surface RT tablet by $150 as it fights to increase its tiny share of the booming tablet market.

The cut brings the price of the Surface RT with 32 gigabytes of memory to $349 without a cover, which also acts as a keyboard. Including a cover with a touch-sensitive keyboard, the device comes to $449. The Surface has a 10.1-inch screen measured diagonally.

According to market research firm IDC, Microsoft shipped about a million tablets in the first quarter of 2013. That includes about 260,000 of the slimmed-down RT version and 750,000 of the Pro version of Surface, which is compatible with older Windows programs.

That gave Microsoft a slim 2 percent share of the 49.9 million tablets shipped worldwide. Apple Inc. remained the leader with 39.1 percent and was followed by Samsung Electronics Co., AsusTek Computer Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Acer Inc. Microsoft was No. 6. Second-quarter figures are not yet out.

DIVESTITURE

Newell makes sale

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. announced the sale of its Teach unit to Skyview Capital, LLC, a Beverly Hills, Calif., private equity firm. Terms were not disclosed. Newell Rubbermaid said the move “simplifies” the company’s businesses in an attempt to find “growth opportunities.” The company has food container manufacturing operations in Mogadore.

WALL STREET

Dow rises 20 points

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.96 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 15,484.26.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.31 points, also 0.1 percent, to 1,682.50. The S&P is up 4.8 percent so far in July, putting it on track to surpass the 5 percent gain it had in January. Both the Dow and S&P are at all-time highs. The Nasdaq composite rose 7.41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,607.49. Oil rose 37 cents to $106.32 a barrel. Gold rose $5.90, or 0.5 percent, to $1,283.50 an ounce.

Compiled from staff and wire reports



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