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Roundup: Horsehead to sell 5 million shares in secondary offering; FedEx expects increase in holiday deliveries; more

| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Horsehead to sell 5M shares in secondary offering

Zinc producer Horsehead Holdings Inc. of Crafton said on Wednesday it plans sell at least 5 million shares of stock in a secondary offering. The company gave few details in a securities filing, saying it plans to use proceeds for general corporate purposes, including capital expenditures, acquisitions and working capital. Shares closed at $13.67, up 16 cents, and have gained 33.9 percent this year. At that price, the offering would raise $68.4 million before commissions and expenses. About four weeks ago, the company said its new plant in Rutherford County, N.C., will cost $40 million more than previous estimates of $450 million, and that first production will be delayed but is still expected this year. Horsehead said it was looking for additional capital to “bolster our liquidity and to fund other potential uses.” Horse­head plans to move zinc production from its smelter in Monaca, Beaver County, to the new plant. In March 2012, Shell Oil Co. signed an option agreement with Horsehead and is exploring the possibility of building a petrochemical plant on the Monaca site. Horsehead's chief financial officer, Robert Scherich, could not be reached for comment.

FedEx expects increase in holiday deliveries

FedEx expects that holiday shoppers will be more nice than naughty this year, with shipments rising from 2012. The company said Wednesday that it expects to carry more than 22 million shipments on the busiest day of the season, which it believes will be Monday, Dec. 2. FedEx predicts that shipments in the first week of December will rise 13 percent over last year's peak week, to more than 85 million shipments, driven by online shopping and retailers stocking up on electronics, apparel and other goods. The expected top day, Dec. 2, will be the first work day for many shoppers after the long Thanksgiving weekend. This is the first time that FedEx expects so-called “Cyber Monday” to be its busiest day of the season. Last year, the company's heaviest load fell on Dec. 17, when it carried 19.9 million shipments. It also saw spikes of 19.6 million shipments on Cyber Monday and 19 million on Dec. 10. If FedEx's forecast is correct, the 2013 peak day will be roughly double the volume of its busiest day just six years ago.

Earnings flat at MSA; stock drops 5%

Mine Safety Appliances Co. stock price dropped more than 5 percent on Wednesday as the Cranberry company missed Wall Street's earnings targets. The safety equipment maker earned $19.5 million, or 52 cents per share, in July-September, compared with $19.2 million, or 51 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. The company was expected to earn 66 to 72 cents per share, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg and Zack's. Sales fell 3 percent to $278 million, from $287 million in the same period a year ago. CEO William M. Lambert blamed the U.S. government's across-the-board budget cuts, called sequestration, and weak mining markets worldwide for the flat earnings. The government caused delays in getting products certified and the company also saw a decline in large order shipments, Lambert said in a news release. “I remain confident in our strategy and the soundness of our long-term goals,” he said, echoing comments from previous earnings reports. The company's shares fell $2.85, or 5.33 percent at $50.63.

Appeals court rejects secret Delaware arbitration

Delaware's effort to strengthen its reputation as the center of business incorporation in the United States and home to one of the world's most respected business courts has run into a First Amendment roadblock. A federal appeals court panel ruled, 2-to-1, on Wednesday to affirm a decision declaring that a 2009 state law that allowed Delaware's Court of Chancery judges to preside over secret arbitration in high-stakes business disputes was unconstitutional. “The benefits of openness weigh strongly in favor of granting access to Delaware's arbitration proceedings,” Judge Doris Sloviter wrote for the panel majority. Judge Jane Roth, widow of the Delaware's late Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Roth, disagreed with Sloviter and Judge Julio Fuentes, who issued a separate concurring opinion. Roth noted Delaware's effort to remain the pre-eminent home to U.S. corporations and business law and said the court's secret arbitration “creates a perfect model for commercial arbitration.” The decision came in a lawsuit filed by an open-government group that challenged a law allowing secret arbitration in business disputes involving claims for monetary damages exceeding $1 million. Under the law and court rules, the court charged a fee of $12,000 for the filing of an arbitration petition, and a daily fee of $6,000 every day after the first day a judge is engaged in arbitration. Supporters of the law said the secret arbitration made the Chancery Court, which routinely decides disputes involving some of the biggest names in business, more efficient and more attractive.

Other business news

• Mastech Holdings Inc., Findlay, reported quarterly earnings more than doubled to about $1.5 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with $601,000, or 18.9 cents a share the year earlier. Revenue jumped 24 percent to $28.3 million from $22.8 million, as demand for its information technology staffing services increased from the prior year.

• Four underperforming Caribou Coffee locations in the Pittsburgh area that were closed in April have opened as Peet's Coffee shops. They will be the first Peet's stores in Pittsburgh. Each store will employ about 15. The stores were among 80 Caribou locations that were closed by their Minneapolis owner.

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