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Business news in brief

In this May 9, 2013 photo, a worker pushes shopping carts in front of a Walmart store in La Habra, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
In this May 9, 2013 photo, a worker pushes shopping carts in front of a Walmart store in La Habra, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)Read more

In the Region

Fitch lowers Temple Health's rating

Fitch Ratings downgraded Temple University Health System's bonds by one notch, knocking them down into noninvestment-grade territory, but giving the system a stable outlook. The downgrade to "BB+" from "BBB-" was based on the health system's $59.3 million operating loss for the nine months ended March 31, caused by a slower-than-expected ramp-up of patient volumes from high-profile doctors recruited to Temple University Hospital, significantly higher professional liability costs, and other factors, the ratings agency said. "The people we've recruited have clearly produced. It just takes a while before you see the results," the system's chief executive, Larry R. Kaiser, said. Kaiser said no job cuts were needed to ensure that the system meets its debt-service requirements for the year ending June 30. - Harold Brubaker

Power producer's shares fall

Shares of several regional power producers were drubbed Tuesday after the regional grid's annual auction attracted a record amount of new generation, effectively pushing down electricity prices for regional generators such as Exelon Corp. Deutsche Bank downgraded Exelon from a "buy" to "hold" after PJM Interconnection on Friday lowered capacity prices for 2016-17, citing an abundance of new natural gas-fired generation and increases in power imports from neighboring regions. Exelon's shares closed down $2.61, or 7.5 percent, on Tuesday at $32.04. Shares of FirstEnergy Corp., another big power generator, were off $2.76, or 6.5 percent. - Andrew Maykuth

New CEO at Exelon Generation

Exelon Corp. named a new chief executive of Exelon Generation, its Kennett Square subsidiary that manages 35,000 megawatts of power plants, including the nation's largest fleet of nuclear reactors. Kenneth W. Cornew, who was formerly president and chief executive of Exelon's Constellation business unit in Baltimore, will also assume the titles of senior executive vice president and chief commercial officer of the Exelon parent company. Exelon Generation previously was overseen by Christopher M. Crane, who became Exelon's president and CEO last year after Exelon merged with Constellation. - Andrew Maykuth

EnerSys declares first dividend

The industrial battery-maker EnerSys Inc., of Reading, announced its first stock dividend - 12.5 cents per share to holders of record as of June 14. The company also said it launched a $65 million share buyback, running through March 31, 2014. In addition, EnerSys reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $37.7 million, or 77 cents per share for the three months ended March 31, compared with 94 cents per share for the same period a year earlier. Net sales for the latest quarter were $572.2 million, down 4 percent from the year-ago quarter. Before the announcements, EnerSys shares closed at $49.28, up 89 cents, or 1.8 percent. - Reid Kanaley

Reverse split for WPCS shares

WPCS International Inc., the Exton communications-engineering company, said it concluded a one-for-seven reverse stock split in an effort to keep its listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market by maintaining a share price above $1. The shares, which closed at 40 cents May 24, closed Tuesday at $3.57, up 77 cents for the day, or 27.5 percent. - Reid Kanaley


Wal-Mart pleads guilty in dumping

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pleaded guilty to charges the company dumped hazardous waste in California. A company spokeswoman said Wal-Mart entered the plea in San Francisco federal court to misdemeanor counts of negligently dumping pollutants from Walmart stores into sanitation drains across California. As part of the plea, the company will pay $81 million, which will also cover charges in Missouri. In 2010, the company agreed to pay $27.6 million to settle similar allegations made by California authorities that led to changes in the retailer's practices nationwide. Wal-Mart was accused of improperly disposing pesticide, fertilizer, and paint. - AP

Moody's: U.S. banking on upswing

Moody's Investors Services raised its outlook for the U.S. banking industry for the first time in five years, citing the improving economy and banks' stronger balance sheets. The rating agency said sustained economic growth and a better jobs picture would help banks over the next 12 to 18 months. Moody's raised its outlook for the industry to "Stable" from "Negative." It had been "Negative" since 2008, the year the financial crisis struck. Moody's said that after a year of reducing losses from soured loans and building cushions against losses, banks are in a better position to handle any future economic downturn. - AP

EU pushing Google on search results

The European Union's antitrust chief said Google Inc. would have to offer more changes to the way it displays search results to settle a pending case. The period to examine Google's proposals has been extended by one month and his office will ask Google with "almost 100 percent" certainty in June to do yet more, Joaquin Almunia told the European Parliament. Google has offered to more clearly label search results stemming from its own services to distinguish between natural search results and others promoted by Google. It also agreed to display some search results from its competitors and links to their services, the EU Commission, the antitrust authority, said last month. Google said it considered its proposals to be sufficient but pledged again to seek a settlement with the commission. - AP

Renault cuts ties with Better Place

Renault SA, France's second-biggest carmaker, is ending a five-year partnership with Better Place L.L.C. after the operator of electric-vehicle charging stations announced plans to shut down. Better Place filed a motion for liquidation with an Israeli court Monday after failing to attract new investments, according to a company statement. Renault and Better Place began working together in 2008 and said a year later that they aimed to sell 100,000 of the Fluence ZE, the French carmaker's first electric vehicle, in Israel and Denmark by 2016. It has sold about 1,200 of the cars so far. The car's low performance and relatively high price compared with conventional vehicles proved too big a hurdle as Better Place, founded by former SAP AG executive Shai Agassi, failed to attract enough customers. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up had raised $750 million since its founding five years ago. - Bloomberg News