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January 18, 2012

Business digest: Ralcorp board OKs spinoff

Filed under: online, uk — Tags: , , , — ManInBlack @ 12:08 pm

Ralcorp board OKs spinoff — Ralcorp Holdings Inc.’s board has approved the spinoff of its Post cereals business, the food maker said Tuesday, and the stock distribution is set to happen Feb. 3. The St. Louis company said it will complete the separation of the two businesses by giving at least 80 percent of Post Holdings Inc.’s outstanding stock to Ralcorp shareholders of record as of Jan. 30. Each stockholder will get one share of Post for every two shares of Ralcorp held on the record date. Ralcorp will maintain a stake in Post. Ralcorp’s stock will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the “RAH” ticker symbol. Post is expected to start trading on the NYSE under the “POST” ticker symbol Feb. 3.

Will new car sales rise? — That clunker in America’s driveway has reached a record old age, but there are signs that people may be growing confident enough in the economy to get a whiff of that fresh new car scent very soon. The average age of a car or truck in the U.S. hit a record 10.8 years last year as job security and other economic worries kept many people from making big-ticket purchases. That’s up from the old record of 10.6 years in 2010, and it and continues a trend that dates to 1995, when the average age of a car was 8.4 years, according to a study of state vehicle registration data by the Southfield, Mich.-based Polk automotive research firm. However, Polk Vice President Mark Seng says that a rebound in sales last year and expected growth for the next couple of years is likely to slow the growth rate in the age of cars as a whole in America.

Airbus touts record in orders — Airbus took in a record number of orders for new commercial aircraft last year as strong demand for its revamped single-aisle plane helped it best U.S. rival Boeing Co. in the race for orders for the fourth year running. The European jet maker said Tuesday that it took in 1,419 net new orders in 2011, worth $140 billion, well above Boeing’s total of 805 aircraft. That topped the previous record of 1,413 net orders recorded by Boeing in 2007. Airbus also delivered 534 aircraft last year, up from 510 a year earlier and keeping the title of world’s biggest jet maker that it has held since 2003. Boeing delivered 477 aircraft last year.

Yahoo co-founder leaves firm — Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang is leaving the struggling company’s board. The departure, announced Tuesday, comes just two weeks after Yahoo Inc. hired former PayPal executive Scott Thompson as its CEO. Yang expressed his support of Thompson in his resignation. He had been on Yahoo’s board of directors since the company’s 1995 inception. Yang also is stepping down from the boards of China’s Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan. Yahoo is negotiating to sell its stakes in both companies.


Citigroup’s loan portfolio improved late last year, partly because Americans were better about paying down credit card debt. But choppy financial markets hurt its investment banking profits, and the bank missed expectations. Profit fell 11 percent in the last three months of last year. to $1.16 billion, or 38 cents per share, on revenue of $17.2 billion. A year earlier, Citigroup made $1.3 billion on revenue of $18.4 billion.

Lee Enterprises, owner of the Post-Dispatch and other newspapers, reported a profit of $14.6 million, or 32 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 25. That compares to $19 million, or 42 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2010. Lee, based in Davenport, Iowa, said the year-over-year comparison would be positive if not for refinancing costs and other unusual items. Excluding such matters, profits would equal 38 cents per share for the recent quarter, compared with 32 cents a year earlier. Operating revenue was down 3.9 percent in the quarter compared with a year earlier. As in earlier periods, Lee showed sharp gains in digital advertising while print ads, which make up the bulk of its advertising, continued to decline. Combined print and digital advertising was down 6.1 percent. Lee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, submitting a reorganization plan pre-approved by the vast majority of its creditors. Chief Financial Officer Carl Schmidt said Tuesday that the court will be asked to set Jan. 30 as the date to make the plan effective, allowing the company to exit bankruptcy. (Staff reports)

Pulaski Financial Corp., owner of Pulaski Bank, reported a slight decline in profit in the first fiscal quarter, compared with a year earlier. The bank earned of $2.525 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with $2.601 million, or 24 cents, a year earlier. CEO Gary Douglass said he expects “meaningful, year-over-year earnings improvement” for this year. (Jim Gallagher)

TD Ameritrade said its fiscal first-quarter net income grew 5 percent, though its revenue was almost unchanged. The online brokerage posted $152 million in net income, or about 27 cents per share, up from $145 million, or 25 cents, a year earlier. Revenue fell less than 1 percent to $653.4 million.

A steadier mortgage business, higher commercial lending and an increase in deposits lifted Wells Fargo & Co.’s fourth-quarter profit by 20 percent. The bank reported that the amount of mortgages it wrote in the last three months of last year jumped 35 percent compared with the third quarter, to $120 billion. Overall loan balances rose to $769.6 billion, up 2 percent from a year earlier. The bank, the largest consumer lender in the U.S., reported a 2 percent increase in commercial loans, to $5.6 billion, reflecting direct lending and the purchase of portfolios from other lenders. The bank’s brokerage division, Wells Fargo Advisors, is based in St. Louis.

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