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Business news in brief

In the Region

Poor March for US Airways in all areas of service

US Airways Group Inc., the largest carrier at Philadelphia International Airport, had the poorest record among major airlines in March for on-time flight arrivals, lost or damaged baggage, and consumer complaints, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported yesterday. US Airways' flights were on time 56 percent of the time, compared with an average for all airlines of 73 percent in the month. US Airways' flights arrived at Philadelphia within 15 minutes of schedule 48 percent of the time. The airline had 11 lost-bag reports for every 1,000 passengers in March, twice as many as the major-airline average. Consumers filed 189 complaints about US Airways with the Transportation Department for service issues of all kinds; that was a rate of 2.63 complaints per 100,000 passengers, double the average for all airlines.

- Tom Belden

Local slots firm protests push for Maine tax increase

Penn National Gaming Inc. is threatening to halt construction on its $131 million Hollywood Slots facility in Bangor, Maine, because of a legislative push to increase the state's take from the slot machines. As it stands, the company, based in Wyomissing, Pa., pays the state a 1 percent tax on money plunked into the slot machines, as well as a 39 percent state tax on the company's net income and a 3 percent tax to the city. The combination of taxes amounts to 51 cents out of every dollar of Penn's net revenue, said spokesman Eric Schippers. According to Schippers, an additional 1 percent tax on gross revenue would increase the company's tax burden from 51 percent of each dollar of net revenue to 61 percent.

- AP

Painkiller-maker settles with Pa., 25 other states

Drugmaker Purdue Pharma L.P. will pay the state of Pennsylvania $950,000 as part of a $19.5 million settlement with 26 states and the District of Columbia over its promotion of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, the company said. Pennsylvania and the 25 other states complained that Purdue encouraged physicians to prescribe OxyContin for use every eight hours, rather than the 12-hour dose approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. OxyContin is a time-release painkiller that can be highly addictive.

- AP

Duane Morris opens trust firm for wealthy immigrants

The Duane Morris L.L.P. law firm said it was opening a trust company focusing on affluent customers who have immigrated to the United States and wish to transfer their assets to domestic accounts. The law firm said it had received approval for the new business, called DM Trust Co., from the Pennsylvania state banking authority. It will be headed up by Stanley Joffe, a partner in Duane Morris' estate and asset-planning practice. The firm said the trust would focus on helping clients through the complex web of regulations governing the transfer of assets from outside the United States.

- Chris Mondics

Met-Pro gets $700,000 pact for emissions system

Met-Pro Corp., Harleysville, said it had won a $700,000 contract to install pollution-control equipment at a pharmaceutical plant in Puerto Rico. Met-Pro did not identify the buyer, but said it was a pharmaceutical company based in New Jersey. The equipment, scheduled to be shipped late this year, is a recuperative thermal-oxidation system. It will control acetone emissions and will use heat recovery to minimize fuel consumption. Met-Pro shares closed up 26 cents at $15.87 on the New York Stock Exchange.

- Paul Schweizer

Higher material costs cited in Tyco's 7% profit slip

Industrial manufacturing conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., which is planning to split into three publicly traded companies, said its second-quarter earnings slipped 7 percent as higher costs offset revenue growth. Net income declined to $835 million, or 41 cents a share, from $895 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier. The company said earnings were hurt by higher material costs - primarily copper - and modestly higher investment in engineering and selling. Tyco is based in West Windsor, N.J., and one of the new companies, Tyco Electronics Corp., will be based in Tredyffrin, Chester County.

- AP


Hong Kong couple accused in Dow Jones stock buys

The Securities and Exchange Commission accused two Hong Kong residents of "widespread and unlawful trading activity" when they bought $15 million of Dow Jones & Co. Inc. stock ahead of an announcement that News Corp. was seeking to buy the company. The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan named as defendants Kan King Wong and Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung, a married couple. It alleged they made "highly profitable and highly suspicious" stock purchases based on inside information between April 13 and 30. The lawsuit did not explain how the couple would have obtained inside information. According to the lawsuit, Wong and his wife bought 415,000 shares of Dow Jones stock in the two weeks before the May 1 announcement that News Corp. had offered to buy Dow Jones.

- AP

Harrah's quarterly profit up 2 percent

Harrah's Entertainment Inc. said its first-quarter earnings edged up 2 percent, as higher Las Vegas and Atlantic City revenue offset increased operating costs. The world's largest casino company by revenue said net income rose to $185.4 million, or 98 cents a share, from $182.4 million, or 98 cents a share, a year earlier. The company said Las Vegas revenue climbed 9 percent to $898.6 million, while sales from Atlantic City casinos rose 11 percent to $546 million, driven by the January opening of a 2,750-slot casino in Chester.

- AP

New sales incentives for full-size GM pickups

General Motors Corp. has rolled out a new round of sales incentives for its redesigned lineup of full-size pickup trucks, saying it needs to keep up with deals being offered by competitors. GM also became the first automaker to join a business coalition dedicated to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that are tied to global warming. GM is offering zero-percent financing deals on 36-month loans on certain versions of the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The Detroit-based automaker is also offering reduced-rate financing on 60-month loans for the trucks. The deals run through July 9. In addition, the nation's biggest automaker joined the United States Climate Action Partnership, an alliance of big business and environmental groups that in January told President Bush that mandatory emissions caps were needed to reduce the flow of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.

- AP

Tenet Healthcare profit up 7%, aided by hefty tax gain

Tenet Healthcare Corp. said its first-quarter profit rose 7 percent, helped by a hefty income-tax-related gain and a slight rise in revenue. Tenet has four hospitals in the Philadelphia area, but it has agreed to sell two of them, Roxborough Memorial Hospital and Warminster Hospital. Net income grew to $75 million, or 16 cents a share, from $70 million, or 15 cents a share, a year earlier.

- AP

Earnings at Disney boosted 27 percent for quarter

Net income at the Walt Disney Co. increased 27 percent in the second quarter, boosted by strong results from its film studio, advertising sales at ESPN, and international sales of its TV shows, including

Desperate Housewives

. The media conglomerate, based in Burbank, Calif., said its net income for the quarter ended March 31 was $931 million, or 44 cents a share, compared with $733 million, or 37 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. The company reported profit growth in all segments, including theme parks and consumer products.

- AP