Business briefs

U.S. Steel posts 1Q profit as costs come down

NEW YORK – U.S. Steel says it turned a quarterly profit for the first time in more than a year as its costs decreased and its flat-rolled steel business performed better.

U.S. Steel last reported a profit in the third quarter of 2012, and it has lost money for five consecutive years. The company has been restructuring its business and reducing capacity to lower its spending.

The Pittsburgh company said Tuesday it earned $52 million, or 34 cents per share, in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $73 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier. Its revenue fell 3 percent to $4.45 billion from $4.6 billion.

Twitter stock down amid user growth concerns

SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter booked a net loss in the first quarter because of stock compensation costs, but its results surpassed Wall Street’s expectations thanks to a sharp increase in advertising revenue.

But shares of the short messaging service dropped sharply after the results came out because of investor concern about its ability to grow its user base and keep its existing users engaged.

Twitter Inc. said Tuesday that it had a loss of $132.4 million, or 23 cents per share, in the January-March quarter. That compares with a loss of $27 million, or 21 cents per share, a year ago when Twitter was still privately held.

Apple versus Samsung case goes to California jury

SAN JOSE, Calif. – It was Apple versus Samsung but Google loomed large Tuesday during closing arguments at the monthlong federal trial involving claims of patent infringement exchanged by the world’s two largest smartphone makers.

A lawyer for Apple accused Samsung of “slavishly” copying key features of its iPhone and iPad products and demanded $2.2 billion in damages. An attorney for Samsung denied the allegations and argued that its Google-developed software differs from Apple’s operating system.

Netflix pays Verizon for better Internet access

SAN FRANCISCO – Netflix will pay Verizon Communications to help clear up some of the congestion that has been bogging down its Internet video service.

The deal marks the second time in less than three months that Netflix Inc. has anted up for a more direct connection to a major Internet service, even though CEO Reed Hastings objects to having to pay for better access.

Netflix negotiated a similar arrangement with Comcast Corp. in February.

Court rules on standard for fees in patent cases

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is making it easier for winners in some patent lawsuits to have legal fees reimbursed by the losing party.

The justices ruled unanimously in two companion cases Tuesday, finding that trial judges have discretion to award fees in patent cases that are particularly frivolous or unreasonable.

The rulings could deter lawsuits from so-called patent trolls – companies that buy patents and force businesses to pay license fees or face costly litigation.

Local bank stocks reported

First Niles Financial held steady in trading Tuesday, closing at $7.50 per share. Cortland Bancorp climbed 20 cents to $11.25 a share.

Staff, wire reports

Business briefs

GM profit sinks; CEO sees no recall hit to sales

DETROIT – The cost of recalling nearly 7 million cars and trucks sank General Motors’ first-quarter profit, but the company’s CEO said the much-publicized recalls have yet to cut into sales.

GM this week reported its worst financial results in more than four years, with profit falling 86 percent to $125 million. The biggest contributor was a $1.3 billion charge to cover a series of recalls announced since early February, most notably 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switches.

The Detroit automaker is facing government investigations and lawsuits over the small-car recall. On a conference call, CEO Mary Barra called the company’s handling of the recall unacceptable but said that, so far, bad publicity has not had a “meaningful impact” on sales. She also said GM is offering employee discounts to owners of cars with the faulty ignition switches.

UAW official nominated for seat on GM board

DETROIT – For the first time, General Motors Co. could have an official of the United Auto Workers union on its board of directors.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton was nominated to a board seat controlled by a UAW trust fund that pays retiree health care bills. He plans to retire from his union post in June.

The move, which would be considered common in Europe, is a first for General Motors, and a sign of how the relationship between the company and the union has changed in the past decade.

Before that, the UAW battled with the company over wages, benefits and work rules, squeezing out as much as it could for members regardless of GM’s finances.

Now, the two often work together to boost quality and control costs, with workers getting a slice of company profits every year.

Timken reports increased 1Q sales and income

The Timken Company is reporting first-quarter 2014 sales of $1.1 billion, up 1 percent from the prior-year quarter.

The company, which employs about 40 people at its Niles plant, said stronger demand in the company’s Steel and Process Industries segments, higher raw material surcharges and the benefit of acquisitions drove the increase, which was offset largely by lower shipments in the Mobile Industries segment and the impact of currency.

For the first quarter, the company generated net income of $83.5 million, or 90 cents per share, compared with $75.1 million, or about 77 cents per share, during the same period a year ago, the company said.

Oregon leaving online health exchange for U.S. site

DURHAM, Ore. – After months of trying to get its problem-plagued online health exchange to work, Oregon on Friday officially gave up on the state portal and decided to switch to the federal website – the first state in the nation to do so.

An early adapter and early enthusiast of the Affordable Care Act, Oregon was once seen as the national leader in health care reform.

Local bank stocks reported

First Niles Financial held steady in trading again Friday to close at $7.50 per share. Cortland Bancorp jumped by 15 cents to close at $11.05 a share.

Staff, wire reports

Business briefs

First Niles Financial reports increased earnings

NILES – First Niles Financial, the holding company for Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Niles, on Tuesday reported a significant increase in net income for the first quarter of 2014 compared to a year ago.

According to numbers released, the company recorded net income of $49,000 for the three months ended March 31, up $106,000 from a $57,000 net loss for the same period in 2013, an increase of $106,000. Primary earnings per share was $0.04, compared to negative $0.05 for the same period in 2013.

Internet TV case: Justices skeptical, concerned

WASHINGTON – Grappling with fast-changing technology, Supreme Court justices debated Tuesday whether they can protect the copyrights of TV broadcasters to the shows they send out without strangling innovations in the use of the internet.

The high court heard arguments in a dispute between television broadcasters and Aereo Inc., which takes free television signals from the airwaves and charges subscribers to watch the programs on laptop computers, smartphones and even their large-screen televisions. The case has the potential to bring big changes to the television industry.

There was a good measure of skepticism about Aereo’s approach, sometimes leavened with humor. Chief Justice John Roberts declared at one point: “I’m just saying your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with, which is fine. I mean, you know, lawyers do that.”

But several justices expressed concern that a ruling for the broadcasters could hamper the burgeoning world of cloud computing, which gives users access to a vast online computer network that stores and processes information.

AT&T had strong 1Q on wireless installment plans

NEW YORK – AT&T’s wireless business had a strong first quarter as the company added more than 1 million subscribers and benefited from an installment plan that permits frequent phone upgrades.

Although customers in the installment plan, called Next, aren’t locked into traditional two-year service contracts, they pay the entire cost of phones in installments. As a result, AT&T doesn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars per customer in subsidies. In return, customers can get a new phone as often as every year instead of every other year.

The company’s first-quarter net income was $3.7 billion, or 70 cents per share, compared with $3.7 billion, or 67 cents, a year earlier, when AT&T had more shares outstanding.

McDonald’s CEO: No heat from breakfast competition

NEW YORK – McDonald’s apparently isn’t scared by a waffle taco.

Without specifying names, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson said during a conference call Tuesday that the company hasn’t seen any impact from the “most recent competitor” in the breakfast space. In apparent references to Subway and Taco Bell, he also noted that McDonald’s seems to face new rivals every year in the mornings, whether they’re “sandwich shops or taco shops.”

Local bank stocks reported

First Niles Financial held steady in trading again Tuesday to close at $7.50 per share.

Cortland Bancorp also was unchanged at $10.90 per share.

Staff, wire reports

Business Briefs

Survey ranks Community Commons tops: Community Commons Assisted Living has been ranked first among assisted living facilities in Trumbull County according to a recent survey conducted by the Ohio Department of Aging, the facility announced. Community Commons said it received a 97.3 percent satisfaction rate in the 2014 Resident Satisfaction Survey. It is located at 1320 Mahoning Ave. N.W., Warren.

History of Steel City dining published: Youngstown’s proud tradition of dining out, ethnic diversity and commitment to hospitality are outlined in a tour of restaurants like the MVR and the Boulevard in Classic Restaurants of Youngstown published this month by The History Press. The book is written by Thomas Welsh and Gordon F. Morgan with the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. Welsh, PhD, is an independent scholar and professional writer and editor living in Youngstown. Morgan grew up in Campbell and earned his master’s degree in professional writing and editing from YSU.

Dominion Foundation offers education grants: School teachers and college faculty members in the Dominion East Ohio service area may apply for $1.3 million in educational grants to fund energy, environment and workforce related programs. Applications must be submitted online by May 1 for new projects for the 2014-2015 school year. Information, the application form and a list of eligible locations are available on Dominion’s website at, search: grants. The K-12 Educational Partnership grants are available in awards up to $10,000 each to help students strengthen math and science skills by studying energy and the environment. Higher Educational Partnership grants are for programs in business, skilled craft, energy, engineering, environmental and technical studies and for student-led conservation programs in colleges, community colleges and post-secondary training schools. Grants up to $50,000 each will be awarded for exceptional programs.

Youngstown company becomes part of Sterne Agee Financial: Sterne Agee Financial Services Inc., a subsidiary of one of the oldest and largest privately owned financial services firms in the country, will acquire WRP Investments, Inc., a Youngstown-based financial firm with more than 350 independent advisors. WRP was founded in 1976 by William Richard Pintaric. The new relationship with Sterne Agee Financial Services will provide additional resources, research and support for WRP independent advisors to offer and better serve their clients, the company said.

Auto battery wellness check set: AAA East Central is hosting Free Battery Wellness Clinics to offer members peace of mind that their car’s battery survived the harsh winter and prepared for extreme temperatures of summer. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service vehicles and technicians will be on hand to provide free, on-the-spot battery and electrical system check-ups to AAA members free of charge. The event is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the AAA Niles office, 937 Youngstown-Warren Road, Niles.

Business briefs

Stocks rebound after choppy day

A stock market swoon turned into a comeback Tuesday.

Stocks managed a late-afternoon rebound for the second time in two days as investors seemed to brush off a report of lower confidence among homebuilders and simmering tensions in the Ukraine.

The late rally even gave a lift to tech stocks like Google and Intel, which had weighed on the market much of the day.

By the end of the day, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 12.37 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,842.98.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 89.32 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,262.56. The Nasdaq composite rose 11.47 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,034.16.

Shell plans public meetings on petrochemical plant

PITTSBURGH – Shell Oil Co. plans to hold public meetings Wednesday to discuss the possibility of building a huge petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania.

In early 2012, Shell chose a site about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh for the possible multibillion-dollar plant, and the company has purchased property in the area and sought bids from suppliers. That same year, it also got what lawmakers call Pennsylvania’s largest ever taxpayer-financed incentive package.

But Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said there’s still no guarantee that the project will be built.

“No final decisions to build the project have been made,” Windon said, adding that the meetings are “simply an opportunity for people to meet with Shell representatives, and for us to seek their input as we continue with our project evaluation.”

Chinese sneaker factory workers go on strike

HONG KONG – Workers at a Chinese factory owned by Yue Yuen, the world’s largest maker of athletic footwear for brands such as Nike and Adidas, are striking in a dispute over benefits.

A worker said more than 10,000 employees at Yue Yuen Industrial’s plant in the southern province of Guangdong joined the strike on Tuesday.

Yellen: Stronger rules needed for banks

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve may be about to turn more aggressive in its regulation of the financial system.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested Tuesday that current regulatory rules might not be enough to prevent the kind of risk-taking that triggered the 2008 financial crisis and nearly toppled the entire banking system.

She said the largest U.S. banks may need to hold additional capital to withstand periods of financial stress. Non-banks with deep reaches into the financial system might also need to meet tougher rules, she said.

Such firms range from money market mutual funds to private equity and hedge funds.

Coca-Cola sells more drinks but soda dips

NEW YORK – Coca-Cola, the world’s biggest beverage maker, said Tuesday that the amount of soda it sold globally fell for first time in 15 years.

The drop in the first quarter was offset by stronger sales of its noncarbonated drinks that include Minute Maid, Powerade and Dasani bottled water. Overall volume rose 2 percent, an improvement from the 1 percent increase the previous quarter.

But the 1 percent decline in global soda volume is notable for Coca-Cola: The last time the figure fell was in 1999, according to the company.

Yahoo’s 1Q highlighted by Asia, modest ad gains

SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo is prospering from its lucrative investments in Asia while the Internet company’s listless advertising sales are picking up, if ever so slightly, under CEO Marissa Mayer.

The positive signs in the Yahoo’s first-quarter report overshadowed a 20 percent decline in the company’s earnings during the opening three months of the year.

Yahoo’s stock gained $2.19, or 6.4 percent, to $36.40 in Tuesday’s extended trading.

Even if the shares rally similarly in Wednesday’s regular trading, the stock will remain below its 52-week high of $41.72 reached in early January.

The results released Tuesday highlight the contrasting performances of Yahoo’s investment portfolio and the company’s main business of running ad-supported online services.

First Niles, Cortland Bancorp stocks rise

First Niles Financial regained the nickel it lost on Monday to close at $7.50 per share on Tuesday. Cortland Bancorp rose a dime to close at $10.90 per share.

Staff, wire reports

Business briefs

NanoLogix growing in Arabian Gulf region

HUBBARD – A Hubbard-based laboratory that focuses on microorganism detection is on its way to distributing its products in the Persian Gulf region.

NanoLogix learned Friday that its application for a Saudi Arabian Medical Device National Registration has been approved, and Saudi Arabia FDA approval is pending. In December, the company announced it had struck an exclusive deal with a Saudi Arabian company to distribute NanoLogix products in the Arabian Gulf region.

Talmer Bank names new local president

WARREN – Talmer Bank and Trust has hired Mark Wenick as region president Mahoning Valley and executive managing director / group manager private client services Ohio.

Wenick, who lives in Austintown with his wife Charlene and five children, formerly served as executive vice president of wealth management for First Place Bank and most recently as vice president for FNB Wealth Management division of First National Bank of Pennsylvania.

“Mark’s extensive experience will be an asset to our organization, as well as our customers,” said David T. Provost, chairman and CEO. “His knowledge and understanding of the Mahoning Valley will ensure that we continue to serve this market well.”

Netflix’s Comcast deal improves quality of video

SAN FRANCISCO – Netflix’s videos are streaming through Comcast’s Internet service at their highest speeds in 17 months, thanks to a recent deal that bought Netflix a more direct connection to Comcast’s network.

The data released Monday by Netflix Inc. may become another flash point in a debate about whether the Federal Communications Commission should draw up new rules to ensure that all online content providers are treated the same by Internet service providers. The equal-treatment doctrine, known as net neutrality, is drawing more attention as Comcast tries to gain approval of its proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc., another large Internet service provider.

Minnesota joins states raising minimum wage

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Tens of thousands of Minnesota workers have big raises coming their way, courtesy of a new minimum wage law that Gov. Mark Dayton signed Monday, which will take the state from one of the nation’s lowest rates to among the highest.

Dayton hailed the hourly jump of more than $3 spread over the next few years as providing “what’s fair” for hard work put in. He said he has been stunned by GOP resistance – it passed the Legislature with only Democratic votes – to increasing the guaranteed wage from $6.15 per hour now to $9.50 by 2016 and then tie it to inflation.

Cortland Bancorp up, First Niles drops nickel in stocks

First Niles Financial dropped a nickel Monday to close at $7.45 per share. Cortland Bancorp rose a quarter to close at $10.80 per share.

Staff, wire reports

Business briefs

Top Real Estate agents listed for March: Real Living Volpini Group’s Howland office announced top agents for the month. Patty Helmick and Darlene Mink-Crouse were named top listing and sales agents for the month of March.

Auto dealer raising cancer donations: In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, management at Preston Superstore in Burton pledged to donate to University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center a dollar for every oil change they completed during October. In March they presented UH Geauga Medical Center leadership with a check for $1,200. The company, a family-operated business owned by president and Newbury resident Pat Preston, has donated approximately $60,000 to UH Geauga Medical Center over the years.

House Medic joins Bilco Company: Bilco Company has announce that Warren-based House Medic is now a Bilco Independent Installer of the company’s residential line of basement doors and egress window wells. Established in 2005, House Medic of Warren is a leader in professional home repairs and improvements serving Trumbull and Northern Mahoning counties and western Mercer County. Company experts specialize in bath and kitchen renovations, deck construction and basement remodels. For additional information call 330-847-8132 or visit

Seven Seventeen supports financial literacy: To mark National Financial Literacy Month, Seven Seventeen Credit Union will provide non-members free access to BalanceTrack online Personal Finance Education Center. For every online education module completed, Seven Seventeen will donate $1 to Mahoning Valley Junior Achievement. The BalanceTrack Personal Finance Center has 19 educational modules on personal finance to strengthen financial skills and move toward a more secure financial future. Each course takes less than 30 minutes to complete and includes a short quiz at the end to insure understanding of the course content. BalanceTrack can be accessed at

Community Commons Assisted Living, 1320 Mahoning Ave., Warren, has been ranked No.1 among assisted living facilities in Trumbull County, based upon the 2014 Resident Satisfaction Survey with the facility receiving a 97.3 percent satisfaction rating.

People on the move

Farmers promotions announced: Farmers Trust Company President Joseph DePascale has announced promotions of four key employees. David A. Dastoli has been promoted to chief investment office. He joined Farmers Trust in 2012. He is a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Analyst and has more than 20 years of investment management experience.

William F. Moss III is now vice president of the company’s Boardman Investment Group. Moss joined the company in 2005 and is credentialed by the Accredited Fiduciary Investment Manager Society.

Margaret S. Adams, Esq. has been promoted to vice president and trust officer. She came to Farmers in 2010. She is a member of the Florida, Ohio and Mahoning County Bar Associations.

Michelle Schenker is now a trust officer in Farmers’ Employee Benefits Group. She joined the company in 2007 and has maintained responsibilities for management of various retirement plans.

New businesses

Hodas Tobacco marks opening: Owner Mahmoud Ahmed has announced the opening of Hodas Tobacco & Convenient Store, 663 Elm Road, Warren. The store, located across the street from Harding High School, specializes in products like cigarettes, Hookah’s and supplies, Hookah pens, E-cigs, regular tubes, rolling machines and bagged tobacco. Snacks and handmade Egyptian jewelry, scarves and dream catchers also are available. For more information call 330-240-1019 or log on to:

New salon opens in Boardman: The Regional Chamber and owner Christine Wilcox held a ribbon cutting last week for the opening of Beautiful Creations Hair and Nail Salon, 7807 Market St. #7, Boardman. Beautiful Creations provides an array of hair and nail services.

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