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Roundup: Shaw to retire from Michael Baker; area foreclosure actions rise; more

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Longtime Michael Baker chairman plans to retire

Michael Baker Corp. said Wednesday its longtime chairman, Richard Shaw, will retire from that post and from the board as a director effective Jan. 31. The board elected Robert Bontempo, a director since 1997 and a business professor at Columbia University, to be the next chairman of the Moon Township-based engineering and construction company. Shaw, who joined Baker in 1952, had chaired its board since 1991. Shaw also served as chief executive four times, most recently in 2008, when he was replaced by Bradley Mallory. The former PennDOT secretary resigned as Baker's CEO in mid-December at the request of the board. The company is searching for his replacement. The company announced that G. John Kurgan, who is executive vice president and chief operating officer, will shift from his role as manager of day-to-day operations to one “more focused on strategic client relationships” with key clients in target markets, Baker said in a securities filing. The company appointed three senior operating executives to an operations committee that will report to the office of the chief executive, composed of Chief Financial Officer Michael Zugay and Chief Legal Officer H. James McKnight.

Latrobe Specialty addition touted

Carpenter Technology Corp. in Wyomissing in Berks County estimated earnings per share for the fiscal second quarter ended Dec. 31 would be about 20 percent higher than a year earlier, “driven primarily” by its acquisition of Latrobe Specialty Metals Inc. Carpenter added that the acquisition was delivering “above-target, near-term” synergies. Carpenter, which makes and distributes premium alloys and stainless steel, acquired the Latrobe company for $726 million last March. Carpenter estimated it would earn 61 cents to 62 cents a share. The company will report actual quarterly results on Jan 31.

Area foreclosure actions rise

Home foreclosure filings in the seven-county Pittsburgh region in December increased more than 19 percent from the month earlier and 12.3 percent over December 2011, said a report by Realty Trac Inc. in Irvine, Calif. December's 622 filings – ranging from default notices to home repossessions – compared with 521 in November and 554 in December 2011. Of those filings, 132 default notices were greater than the 96 in November, but fewer than the 189 a year earlier. The report showed banks repossessed 137 homes last month, compared with 220 in November and 112 in December 2011. One in every 1,772 homes in this region was at some stage of foreclosure in December. That indicated a healthier housing market than the state's 1-in-1,582 ratio of homes, and far healthier than the nation's 1-in-810 ratio.

United tries again to raise airfares

United Airlines is trying again to raise prices because a similar move failed earlier this month. United said Wednesday that it raised prices for travel within the United States by up to $20 per round trip. United Continental Holdings Inc. said it raised prices $2 each way for flights under 500 miles, $3 for 501 to 1,000 miles, $5 for 1,001 to 2,000 miles, and $10 each way for flights longer than 2,000 miles or involving Hawaii or Alaska. United tried to raise prices by up to $10 per round trip on Jan. 3 but rolled back the increase when others, notably Southwest Airlines Co., kept their fares unchanged.


• Wendy's new value menu and focus on premium burgers helped its fiscal fourth-quarter net income top Wall Street expectations, the hamburger chain said Thursday. Wendy's net income jumped to $22.4 million, or 6 cents per share, for the three months ended Dec. 30. That's up sharply from $4 million, or 1 cent per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 2 percent to $629.9 million from $615 million.

• American Airlines made a profit in the fourth quarter, a big turnaround from a year ago, as it slashed labor costs and reaped other benefits from its trip to bankruptcy court. Parent company AMR Corp. said Wednesday that net income was $262 million, compared with a loss of $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. Revenue ticked down to $5.94 billion from $5.96 billion a year earlier.

• Goldman Sachs went some way to restoring its reputation as a Wall Street powerhouse, as its earnings almost tripled in the fourth quarter, handily beating analysts' estimates, and investment banking revenues surged. The investment bank earned $2.83 billion after paying preferred dividends, compared with $978 million a year earlier in the period ending Dec. 31, 2012. Revenue rose to $9.24 billion, 53 percent higher than in the same period a year ago, beating analysts' estimates of $7.97 billion.

• United Refining Co., the oil refiner/marketer based in Warren, reported net income declined 3.2 percent to less than $60 million in the fiscal first quarter ended Nov. 30, compared with $62 million the year earlier. Sales rose 1.4 percent to a record $957 million from $944 million the year earlier. Petroleum prices were higher in the current period, but volumes declined. Results a year ago included about $51 million in non-cash gains from derivatives contracts.

Other business news

• CW Breitsman Associates LLC, Downtown, was hired by the trustees of the Kodak Retired Employees Beneficiary Association to act as third-party administrator for retirees of Eastman Kodak Co. Kodak declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy last January, affecting more than 56,000 retirees. CW Breitsman is a full-service third-party administrator providing services to qualified group benefit plans and compensation-related programs.

• PNC Financial Services Group provided $25 million in senior secured revolving credit for Superior Coring Systems Inc. so that the Alberta-based business could acquire five hybrid drilling rigs plus increase its base of working capital. Superior Coring provides core sampling and drilling services to oil and gas producers operating in western Canada.

— Staff and wire reports

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