Business News as of 8 p.m. ET
(Canadian Press DataFile Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Thursday, Feb. 21
8 p.m. ET
BUSINESS NEWS ADVISORY
Here are the top Business News stories from The Canadian Press as of 8 p.m. ET. All times are Eastern unless otherwise stated. Coverage plans are included when available. Entries are subject to change as news develops.
Queries should be addressed to the business desk at 416-507-2138. To reach CP Business by email, send messages to business(at)thecanadianpress.com.
TOP BUSINESS NEWS THIS HOUR
Agrium reports higher Q4 net earnings
CALGARY _ Agrium Inc., which is embroiled in a proxy fight with its largest shareholder, reported higher fourth-quarter profits and sales on Thursday.The Calgary-based fertilizer giant says net earnings for the last three months of 2012 were $354 million, or $2.34 per share, up from $193 million, or $1.20 per share, a year earlier.
OSC reopens charges against Livent execs
TORONTO _ The Ontario Securities Commission is reopening its regulatory case against three former executives of the now-defunct Livent Inc.The commission said Thursday it is re-examining whether Livent founders Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb, along with ex-vice president of finance Gordon Eckstein, contravened the securities act and the "public interest" when they manipulated the books at the theatre production company. Moves National and Business
Tim Hortons makes plans to face tough economy
TORONTO _ Tim Hortons hopes a refreshed look for many of its stores and a new leader atop its executive team this summer will boost the brand as it endures an underwhelming economy and heavy competition from other coffee restaurants.On Thursday, the Oakville, Ont.-based company delivered a cautious outlook for the year and fourth-quarter results which showed notably weaker transaction growth at stores that have been open for more than a year. PHOTO. Precedes Oakville, Ont.
Imperial switches chief executives
CALGARY _ A sudden leadership change at Imperial Oil Ltd. had nothing to do with a recent $2-billion cost overrun at the company's Kearl oilsands mine in northern Alberta, the outgoing CEO said Thursday.Bruce March, 56, is leaving Imperial (TSX:IMO) to run parent company ExxonMobil Corp.'s global chemical operations after nearly five years in the role. PHOTO.
Canada must change positions for trade deal: EU
BRUSSELS _ The European Union's trade commissioner says he hopes to wrap up a trade deal with Canada soon, but that Canada must change its positions for that to happen.Karel De Gucht, speaking Thursday to a committee of the European Parliament, visited Ottawa recently.
Rona to cut 200 full-time jobs in efficiency drive
MONTREAL _ Home improvement retailer Rona Inc. plans to cut 200 full-time jobs across Canada and shrink its presence outside of Quebec as it seeks to rebuild a network that continues to underperform in the face of weak consumer demand.The downsizing, which represents 15 per cent of its administrative positions, is part of the company's plan to focus on its core businesses and reduce other holdings. PHOTO.
Loblaw expects moderate sales growth in 2013
Canada's largest grocer, Loblaw Companies Ltd. expects more competition and moderate sales growth in 2013, and says it's considering consolidating some of its banners. Company president Vicente Trius said Thursday that Loblaw has looked at the number of grocery banners it operates, but noted how customers value them. PHOTO.
Bombardier disappoints with weak results
MONTREAL _ Bombardier Inc.'s chief executive says the aerospace and rail equipment manufacturer is on a path to improved results in coming years but acknowledged Thursday that its fourth-quarter results were weak and margins in the coming year won't be as robust as previously thought."Our results in 2012 are not reflective of our potential as we faced some execution issues," CEO Pierre Beaudoin said Thursday during a conference call to discuss the Montreal-based company's latest financial report. PHOTO.
CRTC rules on wholesale Internet billing
GATINEAU _ The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says all major telephone and cable companies that provide wholesale high-speed Internet and other services to independent providers must use a single billing model. The CRTC says this will result in a more straightforward billing process, with some independent service providers seeing significant reductions in the wholesale rates they pay. The CRTC doesn't approve rates for Internet services offered to consumers at the retail level.
Canadian Tire posts 1.9% drop in Q4 profit
TORONTO _ A combination of late winter weather and an underestimation on the flurry of Christmas shopping activity left Canadian Tire posting a small increase in fourth-quarter revenue and a nearly two-per cent drop in profits.The Toronto-based retailer said Thursday that net income in the three months ended Dec. 29 was $163.1 million or $2 per diluted share. PHOTO.
Rebel Apple investor tries to rally Street
NEW YORK _ A Wall Street maverick who wants Apple Inc. to share more of its wealth with investors took his case to other shareholders Thursday, urging them to send management a message by voting against a company proposal at the upcoming annual meeting.On a conference call with investors and reporters, David Einhorn, founder of hedge fund Greenlight Capital, laid out the case for something he calls "iPrefs," a class of dividend-bearing preferred stock. He wants Apple to issue these shares free to shareholders as way of committing to use its massive profits for the benefit of shareholders.
United Airlines drops 787 through June 5
United Airlines cut the grounded Boeing 787 from its flying plans at least until June and postponed its new Denver-to-Tokyo flights on Thursday, as airlines continued to tear up their schedules while the plane is out of service.Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a battery fire in one plane and forced the emergency landing of another plane last month. The world's 50 787s have been grounded since Jan. 16.
RESPs mean gov't grants for a kid's education
TORONTO _ Diapers Check. Extra clothes Check. RESP The Registered Education Savings Plan, an investment account for your child's post-secondary education, may be an unusual item to include in your diaper bag checklist. Still, experts say the government grants you will receive are the best reasons to start early and contribute often.
ALSO IN THE NEWS
TSX moves lower on Federal Reserve concerns
TORONTO _ The Toronto stock market closed lower Thursday as traders worry that the U.S. Federal Reserve will end its open-ended stimulus program of bond purchases by the end of the year.The S&P/TSX composite index closed off the worst levels of the session, coming back from a 111-point tumble to close down 74.08 points to 12,639.97, with pressure also coming from poorly received earnings news. The TSX Venture Exchange added 2.8 points to 1,133.97. PHOTO.
Loonie lower on U.S. stimulus concerns
TORONTO _ The Canadian dollar fell to a fresh seven month low against the greenback Thursday amid concerns over how long the U.S. Federal Reserve will continue its current stimulus program of bond purchases.The loonie was down 0.14 of a cent to 98.16 cents US and went as low as 98 cents as traders avoided risk and resource-based currencies such as the loonie. PHOTO.
Oil prices down sharply for a 2nd day
NEW YORK _ Oil prices plunged for a second day Thursday, raising hopes that a relentless rise in gasoline prices may slow or reverse at least temporarily.U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell US$2.24, or 2.4 per cent, to US$92.98 per barrel in afternoon trading in New York, the second drop of 2 per cent in two days. Brent crude, which is used to price oil used to make gasoline in many U.S. refineries, fell US$1.71 to US$113.89. PHOTO.
Nordstrom 4th-quarter net income rises
SEATTLE _ Nordstrom posted a 20 per cent increase in fourth-quarter net income as high-end shoppers kept spending on clothing and makeup, and customers responded positively to its service improvements.But annual guidance disappointed investors as the upscale department store continues to invest heavily in e-commerce operations and expand its lower-priced Nordstrom Rack stores. Nordstrom's shares fell more than 2 per cent in after-hours trading.
QLT reports $9.2 million net loss in Q4
VANCOUVER _ Biotechnology company QLT Inc. (TSX:QLT) reported a net loss of $9.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2012 as it took a restructuring charge of $2.6 million.QLT, which has sold its main product line, generated income of $1.9 million for the three months ended Dec. 31 _ $1.8 million of that related to contingency payments for Visudyne and Eligard.
Osisko reports lower Q4 net earnings
MONTREAL _ Osisko Mining Corp. (TSX:OSK) has posted lower fourth-quarter profits as a number of non-cash items affected its bottom line.The Montreal-based miner said net earnings for the last three months of 2012 were $9.6 million, or two cents per share.
Dundee Intl REIT sees higher Q4 revenue
TORONTO _ A "transformative year" helped Dundee International REIT (TSX:DI.UN) book higher earnings and revenue in its fourth quarter and year-end, the Toronto-based trust reported Thursday.Dundee said that its investment properties revenue rose to $35.9 million in the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2012, compared with $31.7 million in the same period in 2011.
US home sales rise to 2nd-highest pace in 3 years
WASHINGTON _ U.S. sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years, a sign that the housing market is sustaining its recovery and helping bolster the economy.The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that sales rose 0.4 per cent in January compared with December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. That was the second-highest sales pace since November 2009, when a temporary home buyer tax credit had boosted sales. PHOTO.
Cascades swings to $29 million loss in fourth quarter
KINGSEY FALLS _ Cascades Inc. (TSX:CAS) swung to a $29-million net loss in the fourth quarter, without the benefit of a one-time gain in the year-earlier period.The Quebec-based recycled paper and packaging manufacturer says its net loss in the three months ended Dec. 31 amounted to 30 cents per share.
Canada to adjust market 'circuit breakers'
TORONTO _ Canadian stock markets will adopt new "circuit breakers" that will briefly stop trading when there is a big drop in a major index.The changes will be consistent with measures planned for U.S. markets.
Leon's posts lower revenue, profit in Q4
TORONTO _ Leon's Furniture Ltd. (TSX:LNF) is reporting lower revenue and profit for its fourth quarter, citing weakness in the economy and a competitive retail environment.The Toronto-based retailer posted net income of $16 million, or 22 cents per diluted share, for the three months ended Dec. 31 compared to $19.9 million, or 27 cents per diluted share in the year earlier period.
CBC gets approval to sell Bold TV channel
TORONTO _ The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. has received approval from the Conservative cabinet to sell digital specialty channel Bold for more than $4 million.Blue Ant Media, a privately held media company based in Toronto, will take ownership of the assets after being given the final OK last week, according to a posting on the government's website.
Lego sales soar on demand for new girls' series
COPENHAGEN _ Lego's sales soared 25 per cent last year thanks in part to its new series of building blocks designed for girls.The privately owned company said Thursday that on revenue of 23.4 billion kroner ($4.2 billion) its net profits grew 38 per cent, to 5.6 billion kroner ($1 billion). PHOTO.
United Airlines drops 787 through June 5
United Airlines is keeping the grounded Boeing 787 off its schedule through June 5.Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a battery fire and another battery problem last month. APNewsNow.
Claims for US jobless aid suggest modest hiring
WASHINGTON _ The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped 20,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 362,000, though it remained at a level consistent with modest hiring.The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose 8,000 to 360,750, the highest in six weeks. A department spokesman said heavy snowstorms in the Northeast didn't affect the total.
US consumer prices flat in January for 2nd month
WASHINGTON _ U.S. consumer prices were flat in January from December for the second month in a row, the latest sign inflation is in check. That could give the Federal Reserve leeway to continue its efforts to stimulate growth.The consumer price index has risen 1.6 per cent in the 12 months ending in January, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's down from a 2.9 per cent pace a year ago. PHOTO.
Daimler extends CEO Zetsche's contract
FRANKFURT _ Automaker Daimler AG has extended the contract of its chief executive, Dieter Zetsche, giving him at least three more years to narrow the sales and profitability gap between the company's Mercedes luxury brand and competitors Audi and BMW.Zetsche, whose contract was due to run out in December, also heads Mercedes, Daimler's earnings mainstay where profit margins have recently fallen short. PHOTO.
Safeway 4Q net income jumps
PLEASANTON _ Grocery store operator Safeway said Thursday its net income jumped 13 per cent in the fourth quarter as its customer loyalty program gained traction.Shares rose 5 per cent in morning trading on the better-than-expected results.
ECB: Nearly half of bond holdings from Italy
FRANKFURT _ The European Central Bank says Italian government bonds account for nearly half of its total holdings under a now discontinued bond-buying program launched in 2010 to ease the eurozone's debt crisis.The ECB on Thursday detailed for the first time what countries' bonds it acquired under the so-called Securities Markets Program, which it started when the euro area's debt crisis flared in May 2010. PHOTO.
US signs management plan for Alaska reserve
ANCHORAGE _ A management plan for the vast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska splits a Portugal-size area roughly in half between conservation areas and land available for petroleum development, and allows pipelines carrying oil or gas to be constructed through the reserve.Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Thursday he had signed a record of decision for the reserve west of Prudhoe Bay and south of Barrow on Alaska's North Slope. He said the balanced approach under the plan was the result of extensive local testimony.
Wal-Mart's 4Q profit up 8.6 pct; outlook wary
NEW YORK _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc. offered a weak business outlook Thursday as new economic challenges for its low-income U.S. shoppers start to take a toll.The world's largest retailer reported an 8.6 per cent increase in profit for the fourth quarter, which includes the crucial holiday season. But higher gasoline prices, late tax refunds and the payroll tax increase in the U.S. have it wary about the coming year. PHOTO.
Nike suspends contract with Oscar Pistorius
PORTLAND _ Nike has suspended its contract with Oscar Pistorius, the double-amputee runner from South Africa who is facing a charge of premeditated murder in the Valentine's Day slaying of his girlfriend.Pistorius, who became the first double-amputee runner to compete on the track at the Olympics at last year's London Games, is accused of intentionally killing model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius says he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder and that the shooting was accidental. PHOTO.
Number of EI recipients down in December
OTTAWA _ Statistics Canada says the number of people receiving regular employment insurance fell in December for the third time in four months, hitting a level similar to that of last spring.The agency says there were 517,000 people on EI in December, down 1.6 per cent from November. Moves Business and General
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