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Business news in brief

In the Region

PSE&G pegs Sandy costs at $300M

Public Service Electric & Gas estimated the cost of restoring power after Hurricane Sandy and a subsequent Nor'easter at $250 million to $300 million. The vast majority of that will almost certainly be borne by the utility's customers in the form of higher rates in future years. The Newark, N.J.-based company said it expect to recover "at least 85 percent" of its incurred costs. - AP

EEOC finds basis for Wet Seal claim

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found a basis for a racial discrimination claim by a former worker at Wet Seal's King of Prussia store. The case now moves to federal court. Nicole Cogdell, 41, an African American who is now a community liaison for Chester Mayor John Linder, said she was dismissed from her job because a Wet Seal vice president had complained in an e-mail that there were too many African Americans working at the store and that Cogdell, who was rated "outstanding," was not right for the job. In a statement, the company said it would fight Cogdell's claim arising from the alleged actions by the vice president, now gone from the company. The company said it was cooperating with the EEOC. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Campbell serves up two dividends

Campbell Soup Co. is the latest company to accelerate dividend payments into 2012 in advance of an anticipated increase in 2013 of the current 15 percent tax rate on dividend income. The Camden food processor will pay its regular quarterly dividend of 29 cents per share on Dec. 28 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 14. The original payment was scheduled to made Jan. 28. In addition, Campbell Soup said it would pay an additional dividend of 29 cents on Dec. 28 instead of paying a regular quarterly dividend in April. - Inquirer staff

Pep Boys shares slide 10 pct.

Shares of Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack declined 10 percent a day after the Philadelphia auto-parts retailer announced that it had lost money for the third quarter. Pep Boys swung to a net loss of $6.8 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with net earnings of $7.0 million, or 13 cents per share, for the third quarter of 2011. Sales for the 13 weeks ended Oct. 27 fell by 2.4 percent to $509.6 million from $522.2 million for the same quarter last year. Sales at stores open at least a year were down by 2.7 percent. Pep Boys shares closed down $1.11 to $9.57. - Mike Armstrong

IBM wraps up $1.3B deal for Kenexa

International Business Machines Corp. closed its $1.3 billion cash acquisition of Kenexa Corp. after winning shareholder approval at a special meeting Monday. Shares of the Wayne human resource and talent management software developer ceased trading as of the close of the stock market on Monday. Kenexa has 2,800 employees in 21 countries. - Jane M. Von Bergen

PetroChoice buys NE Pa. firm

PetroChoice Holdings Inc., a Bucks County lubricant distributor, has purchased Craft Oil Corp. of Avoca, Pa. for an undisclosed sum, said Shane O'Kelly, the chief executive of PetroChoice. It was the fourth acquisition this year by PetroChoice, which was founded in 1969 in Bedford County and has been based in Bristol since it acquired Loos & Dilworth Inc. in 2009. PetroChoice provides petroleum-based lubes and services in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest Regions. - Andrew Maykuth

Moody's warns children's hospitals

Moody's Investors Service warned that declining revenue growth rates could undermine the historical strength of children's hospitals nationwide. Pediatric hospitals, such as the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, have long benefited from widespread coverage of children by Medicaid, but Moody's said that they can expect lower rates of increase from both Medicaid and commercial insurers in the future. In 2007, the average growth rate for children's hospitals was 3 percentage points higher than that of adult hospitals. That gap had narrowed to 0.7 percentage points in 2011. - Harold Brubaker

Shares of Brazil's Marfrig slump

Marfrig Alimentos S.A., one of Brazil's biggest meat producers, plunged the most in more than a year as it prepares to sell as many as 141.8 million new shares to reduce debt. American depositary receipts of Sao Paulo-based Marfrig plunged 16 percent, or 79 cents, to close at $4.13. Among its 20 acquisitions in the last five years, Marfrig bought Keystone Foods L.L.C., of West Conshohocken, for $1.26 billion in 2010. - Bloomberg News

Lincoln CEO leans to more buybacks

Lincoln National Corp., a Radnor life insurer, favors share buybacks because they offer better returns than some sales of life policies, said chief executive officer Dennis Glass at a conference in New York. "Every dollar of life sales that we don't sell frees up a dollar for share buybacks," Glass said. Lincoln has repurchased $1 billion of its shares in the past eight quarters. - Bloomberg News


Best quarter for banks in 6 years

U.S. banks earned more from July through September than in any other quarter over the last six years. The increase is further evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the 2008 financial crisis. The

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

said that the banking industry earned $37.6 billion in the third quarter, up 6.6 percent from $35.3 billion in the third quarter of 2011. While consumer lending increased for the second straight quarter, the increase was "relatively modest" and regulators would like to see more of it, FDIC chairman Martin Gruenberg said.

- AP

FedEx to deliver voluntary buyouts

FedEx said that it will be offering some employees up to two years' pay to leave the company starting next year. The voluntary program is part of an effort by the big package delivery company to cut annual costs by $1.7 billion within three years. The company's Express unit has more than 146,000 employees worldwide - roughly two-thirds in the United States. The restructuring is a response to a shift by customers away from premium package-delivery services and toward slower, less expensive modes as the economy struggles to grow. - AP

Suzuki dealers agree to halt sales

American Suzuki Motor Corp., the bankrupt U.S. distributor of Suzuki cars and motorcycles, won support from 97 percent of its auto dealers to shut down new-car sales while continuing warranty work for existing customers. - Bloomberg News