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Business news in brief

At a business forum in Monaco, a visitor looks at World Touring Car Championship vehicles.
At a business forum in Monaco, a visitor looks at World Touring Car Championship vehicles.Read moreLIONEL CIRONNEAU / Associated Press

In the Region

Penn Va. to halve drilling expenditure

Penn Virginia Corp.

said yesterday that, in fiscal 2009, it expects to spend $225 million - about half of what was to be spent in fiscal 2008 - for exploratory drilling and completion. Further, the Radnor natural-resources company said it expects a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in its production of natural-gas equivalent. Shares closed yesterday at $28, up 50 cents, or 1.82 percent. Meanwhile,

Penn Virginia Resource Partners L.P.,

which is mostly controlled by Penn Virginia Corp., said it expects lower prices for natural gas to put a damper on royalties in its oil and gas segments for fiscal 2009. Estimated other revenues for the coal and natural resource management segment are expected to be $24.5 million to $26.5 million, a decrease of about 4 percent to 11 percent from the midpoint of full-year 2008 guidance of $27.5 million. Company shares closed up 3.45 percent, or 38 cents, at $11.39.

- Roslyn Rudolph

Bucks clothing firm cuts 140 jobs

Broder Bros.

, a Trevose clothing distributor, said it eliminated about 140 positions to prepare for what it called "a further weakening in the U.S. economy." The cuts span the company's distribution and call centers, management and other corporate operations. At the end of 2007, the company had about 1,650 workers. For severance payments and related charges, Broder said it will take a fourth-quarter charge of $800,000 to $1 million before taxes. Although the privately held company has gained market share recently, it said it believes revenue and gross profit will fall in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter last year and will keep dropping for part of 2009. Broder's concern centers on declines in demand for its high-priced products. The company sells imprintable sportswear under the Broder, Alpha and NES brands.

- Paul Schweizer

Merck seeks new use for HIV drug

Merck & Co. Inc.

said it is seeking FDA approval for the drug Isentress to be used in patients who have not received any previous medication for HIV. Isentress already is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in combination with other antiretroviral agents in adult patients who had received previous HIV medications. Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., has operations in the Philadelphia region.

- Roslyn Rudolph

Pure Weight Loss agrees to payments

A bankrupt Horsham weight-loss company has agreed to pay $700,000 to settle complaints from former customers who did not get products or services they paid for. The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office announced the consent agreement with

Pure Weight Loss Inc.

and owner Vahan Karian. Formerly known as L.A. Weight Loss Centers Inc., the company shut down about a year ago and filed for bankruptcy protection Jan. 11. It listed liabilities of $10 million to $50 million and assets of less than $10 million. Karian signed the consent agreement in October, and a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge signed off on it last week.

- AP

Economy delays construction

Pennsylvania State University's

medical center is delaying construction of a children's hospital in Hershey because of concerns over the global economic crisis. The center's chief executive officer, Harold Paz, said the economic climate hampers the hospital's ability to borrow money for the $235 million hospital project. Groundbreaking had been scheduled for January, pending the approval of architectural designs and financing plans by the hospital's board and Penn State's trustees. Paz says officials are continuing to raise money for the hospital.

- AP

Survey: More firms see worse '08

The number of companies worldwide expecting business results for 2008 to be significantly worse than targeted levels has more than doubled since March,

Hay Group

, a Philadelphia consulting firm, said. Its latest Global Employee Pay and Staffing Survey found that 31 percent of participants expect to end the year with significantly below-target financial results, up from 12 percent in March. The rest among the 2,589 organizations surveyed said business is close to expectations. Among retailers, nearly two-thirds expect poor performance for this year because of slow consumer spending, Hay said. It also found that about half of the companies now plan to freeze or cut staffing compared with 20 percent in the March survey.

- Paul Schweizer

Bank completes stock sale

National Penn Bancshares Inc

. said that it has completed the sale of $150 million of senior preferred stock to the U.S. Treasury Department under the TARP Capital Purchase Program. National Penn is well-capitalized, said Glenn E. Moyer, president and CEO of Boyertown-based National Penn Bancshares. But he said the bank's participation in the program would provide additional resources amid the troubled economy.

- Inquirer staff

Delco firm gets military contract

Alloy Surfaces Co. Inc.

Chester Township, Delaware County, says it has received an Air Force contract for missile decoys. The contract will be for as much as $51.9 million. Alloy is a subsidiary of U.K.-based Chemring Group P.L.C.

- Roslyn Rudolph


Fairchild Semiconductor cuts jobs

Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc.

said it would eliminate 12 percent of its workforce and reduced its fourth-quarter sales forecast as demand for its mobile-phone chips declines. The 1,100 job cuts will result in costs of $12 million to $16 million in the current quarter and the first period of 2009, Fairchild said.

- Bloomberg News

Alcatel-Lucent cuts include workforce

Alcatel-Lucent SA

, which makes fixed-line networks, will cut $1.3 billion of costs in each of the next two years, including 1,000 more managerial jobs. Adjusted operating profit will be around break even next year, the Paris-based company said in a statement. The new measures bring job cuts to 17,500 since Alcatel SA bought Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2006.

- Bloomberg News

Bristol, Sanofi prevail on Plavix

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.


Sanofi-Aventis SA

won a federal appeals court ruling in their bid to prevent generic competition to the blood-thinner Plavix. The validity of the patent on the drug was upheld by a three-judge panel of the Washington court specializing in patent law. Canadian drugmaker

Apotex Inc

. argued that the patent, which expires in 2011, doesn't contain a new invention and that Sanofi used known research methods on known compounds to come up with Plavix's key ingredient.

- Bloomberg News