In the Region

Fast growth in specialty-plastics demand in Europe

DuPont Co., the third-largest U.S. chemical-maker, said European demand for specialty plastics is growing faster than the company anticipated, even as North American sales slow. European gains are being led by Germany, said Diane H. Gulyas, group vice president of the performance-materials segment. North American demand continues to be crimped by slumping automotive and housing markets, she said. The performance-materials unit is the largest segment at Wilmington-based DuPont.

- Bloomberg News

Harleysville National, East Penn Financial to merge

Harleysville National Corp. and East Penn Financial Corp., banks with operations north of Philadelphia, agreed to a merger worth between $86.3 million and $99.1 million in cash and stock, the banks said. The final price depends on the performance of Harleysville's shares before the deal closes. The announcement sent shares in East Penn, Emmaus, up $5.41 on the Nasdaq, to $13.50. Harleysville's shares lost 3 cents, closing at $15.80.

- Harold Brubaker

CollaGenex licenses Mich. firm's psoriasis treatment

CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it signed a $1.5 million licensing agreement with an Ann Arbor, Mich., company to develop and commercialize becocalcidiol, a Vitamin-D-based psoriasis treatment in mid-stage clinical testing. The Newtown company said it would pay a $1.5 million up-front licensing fee to QuatRx Pharmaceuticals Co. CollaGenex, which specializes in dermatological medicines, will be responsible for all further development costs.

- Linda Loyd

USA Technologies: Aggressive pricing slashed profit

USA Technologies Inc. said its fiscal third-quarter gross profit was cut by more than half although revenue rose. The company attributed the profit decline to its aggressive pricing to win the cashless vending business. The Malvern company posted a profit of $318,000 for the quarter ended March 31, down 54 percent from $688,000 a year earlier. Revenue was a record $2.69 million, a 66 percent rise from $1.62 million in the year-earlier quarter. The company provides technology for wireless noncash transactions.

- Paul Schweizer

N.J. payrolls fell by 3,600 jobs last month

New Jersey payrolls declined by 3,600 jobs in April to 4,085,800, although there are 18,800 more jobs than in April 2006. The unemployment rate remained steady at 4.3 percent, below the national average of 4.5 percent, and down from 4.8 percent a year ago. Jobs were lost in the goods-producing and service sectors. Only public employment remained stable, according to a report released by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

- Jane M. Von Bergen

SunCom Wireless Holdings trims debt through swap

Berwyn's SunCom Wireless Holdings Inc. said it completed a debt-for-equity swap that reduced its consolidated debt about $731.6 million and annual consolidated interest expense about $66.2 million and helped it avoid bankruptcy. The company also said it completed a merger between SunCom Wireless Holdings and SunCom Merger Corp. It said the merger transaction was done in part to implement a 1-for-10 reverse stock split.

- Miriam Hill

Walgreen to buy Conshohocken clinic operator

Walgreen Co. said it planned to acquire Take Care Health Systems Inc., a Conshohocken company that operates 50 health-care clinics in drugstores in Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; St. Louis; and Pittsburgh. Forty of its clinics are in Walgreen stores. Financial details of the cash deal, which is expected to close next week, were not disclosed. Take Care will maintain its headquarters in Conshohocken, and the management team plans to stay. Walgreen has 59 in-store clinics, including those operated by Take Care. Its goal is to have 400, all of them run by Take Care, by the end of next year.

- Stacey Burling

Elsewhere's latest plan: Digital-music store

Online retailer said it planned to launch a digital-music store later this year featuring songs without copy-protection restrictions. The store will feature millions of songs from 12,000 labels able to be played on a range of devices including iPods, Microsoft's Zune players, and personal computers. Files will be offered in the standard MP3 format. EMI Music is the latest to license its music catalog to the store. Amazon did not say how much songs would cost or the terms on which it would offer music.

- AP

Boeing says 61-aircraft order was from tourism firm

Boeing Co., Chicago, the world's second-largest maker of commercial planes, said it won orders from European tourism company TUI Group for 61 aircraft valued at about $4.7 billion at list prices. The orders, previously listed on Boeing's Web site as being from an unidentified customer, include 11 fuel-efficient 787-8 Dreamliners and 50 Next-Generation 737s, Boeing said. Two of the 737s already have been delivered. Boeing's helicopter division is in Ridley Township.

- Bloomberg News

Ford to shut Mich. plant that builds Lincoln Town Cars

Ford Motor Co. said it would cease production May 31 at the Michigan plant that builds Lincoln Town Car sedans, under the company's plan to trim capacity because of declining U.S. sales. Philip Calhoun, the plant manager, disclosed the date for ending production during media tours of the Wixom factory. The shutdown is part of Ford's plan to close nine plants by next year and 16 by 2012. Town Car output will shift to a St. Thomas, Ontario, plant.

- Bloomberg News

Microsoft says EU fine could be up to $1.2 billion

Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software company, estimated that a European Union fine in an antitrust case may total as much as $1.2 billion. EU regulators accused the company in March 2004 of abusing its dominance of Windows, which runs almost 95 percent of the world's personal computers, to crush competition in related markets.

- Bloomberg News

Federated posts a profit below analysts' estimates

Federated Department Stores Inc. reported a first-quarter profit, but missed Wall Street estimates as sales at newly converted Macy's stores remained weak. The Cincinnati company said it earned $36 million, or 8 cents a share, in the quarter ended May 5, compared with a year-earlier loss of $52 million, or 9 cents a share, hurt by a hefty charge. Excluding costs from the purchase of May Department Stores Co., earnings were 16 cents a share, 3 cents less than analysts forecast.


HP profit fell, but was more than Wall Street expected

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s second-quarter profit fell 7 percent despite a dramatic rise in sales of personal computers and servers, narrowly beating Wall Street's forecast. For the three months ended April 30, HP earned $1.78 billion, or 65 cents a share, compared with $1.9 billion, or 66 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Excluding onetime charges, HP's net income came in at $1.9 billion, or 70 cents a share.

- AP

Money market funds' average yields are unchanged

The average seven-day yield on taxable money market funds remained at 4.71 percent for the second straight week, according to iMoneyNet Inc. A seven-day yield is an annual yield that is based on the preceding seven days' level of income by the fund. The average yield on tax-free funds was also unchanged at 3.31 percent.

- Thomas J. Brady