In the Region

Kulicke & Soffa quarterly revenue off previous year's

Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc., Fort Washington, said yesterday that its revenue from continuing operations fell to $152.3 million in the third quarter from $204.6 million a year earlier. The company had forecast revenue of $140 million to $150 million. Income from continuing operations was $4.9 million, or 8 cents a diluted share, compared with $30.6 million, or 45 cents a diluted share, a year earlier. For Kulicke & Soffa's full financial report, go to

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- Paul Schweizer

Avalon Carpet Tile opens Philadelphia store

Avalon Carpet Tile & Flooring, Cherry Hill, opened its first Philadelphia location this month. The 25,000-square-foot store at Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue employs 20.

- Madhusmita Bora

Elsewhere

Smithfield shifting from sow crates to group housing

Smithfield Foods Inc., the world's largest hog producer, said it would phase out individual gestation crates - in which the pigs cannot turn around - at its sow farms, moving over the next 10 years to "animal-friendly" group housing for pregnant pigs. "This is a monumental advance for animal welfare," said Paul Shapiro, manager of the Factory Farming Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States. Smithfield, which has 842,000 sows on company-owned farms, said it was making the change because its customers told Smithfield "they feel group housing is a more animal-friendly form of sow housing," C. Larry Pope, Smithfield's chief executive officer, said. Smithfield said it would help its contract growers with the conversion. Voters in Arizona approved a ballot measure in November to outlaw the crates. Florida passed a similar measure in 2002.

- Harold Brubaker

FDA advisory panel backs combination vaccine

Sanofi-Aventis, the largest French drugmaker, has won the backing of a U.S. advisory panel to sell a combination vaccine for whooping cough and four other childhood diseases. A Food and Drug Administration panel voted, 13-2, in favor of the vaccine, Pentacel, after studies showed four doses of the product prevented children from getting sick. U.S. officials recommend 23 separate shots for infants, and Pentacel would cut that number to 16, or about two fewer at every checkup. Pentacel may help Sanofi revive growth in its vaccine business at the expense of GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C., the maker of the only five-part shot now sold in the United States. Glaxo has a U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia.

- AP

Bristol-Myers Squibb posts $134 million loss

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said it lost $134 million, or 7 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, compared with a year-earlier profit, as sales of its best-selling drug Plavix plunged and it took a hefty charge to settle investigations into pricing policies. A year earlier, Bristol-Myers posted net income of $499 million, or 26 cents a share. Excluding certain items, Bristol-Myers earned 19 cents a share, beating by 3 cents the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

- AP

EU's price-fixing fine cuts Siemens AG profit 16%

Industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said net profit fell 16 percent in its most recent quarter because of a European Union fine for price-fixing, but the stock rose as earnings otherwise improved and investors responded to the acquisition of a U.S. software company. Net profit in the three months through Dec. 31, the company's fiscal first quarter, fell to $1.02 billion from $1.21 billion in the same period a year earlier because of a $550 million charge for the EU fine. Company shares closed at $105.09, up $4.90 or 4.89 percent, on the New York Stock Exchange. Siemens Medical Solutions is based in Malvern. For Siemens' full financial report, go to

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- AP

New Cingular subscribers help AT&T profit rise 17%

AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, said fourth-quarter profit rose 17 percent, helped by acquisitions and a record number of new subscribers at its Cingular Wireless L.L.C. unit. Net income increased to $1.94 billion, or 50 cents a share, from $1.66 billion, or 46 cents a share, a year earlier, AT&T said. Sales rose 23 percent to $15.9 billion. Excluding some costs tied to acquisitions, profit was 61 cents a share, beating a 59-cent-a-share average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

- Bloomberg News

Blackstone increases bid for Equity Office 11%

Private-equity firm the Blackstone Group L.P. raised its offer to buy Equity Office Properties Trust 11 percent, to $22.3 billion, or $54 a share in cash, topping a rival bid from Vornado Realty Trust as it made the second-biggest private-equity buyout offer ever. Including debt, the deal could be worth as much as $38 billion, given $16.49 billion in Equity Office's debt reported as of Sept. 30. That valuation ranks it the largest private-equity buyout bid in history, surpassing the 1988 takeover of RJR Nabisco Inc. by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., according to data from Dealogic L.L.C. Excluding debt, it is the second-largest after RJR Nabisco, which was valued at $25.1 billion excluding debt.

- AP

China reports 10.7% growth in economy in 2006

China said its economy grew last year by 10.7 percent, moving it close to overtaking Germany as the world's third-largest economy. Spending on real estate and other assets soared despite government efforts to cool an investment boom that it worries could ignite inflation or a debt crisis. Consumer spending grew more slowly, suggesting that Beijing still faces challenges in its effort to reduce reliance on exports and narrow its trade gap by boosting domestic consumption.

- AP

Newspaper deals help Dow Jones' profit climb

Financial-news publisher Dow Jones & Co. Inc. reported sharply higher fourth-quarter earnings on special gains from the sale of several newspapers as well as growth in revenue. The New York-based company, whose publications include the Wall Street Journal, earned $192.9 million, or $2.30 a share, in the fourth quarter, up from $41.2 million, or 49 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.

- AP

Reject AirTran bid, Midwest Air board recommends

The board of Midwest Air Group Inc. has recommended that shareholders reject a buyout offer from AirTran Holdings Inc. worth $345 million, the Milwaukee-based parent of Midwest Airlines said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. AirTran, based in Orlando, Fla., disclosed in mid-December that it had bid $290 million, or $11.25 a share, Oct. 20 for Midwest Air Group, but Midwest turned down the offer Dec. 6.

- AP

Erbitux sales helped send Imclone's earnings higher

Imclone Systems Inc. said its fourth-quarter profit jumped on strong sales of its Erbitux cancer treatment and lower expenses, but total sales fell short of Wall Street's forecast. Net income grew to $46.6 million, or 53 cents a share, from $694,000, or 1 cent a share, in the year-earlier period. Excluding a tax benefit, the company posted earnings per share of 40 cents for the latest quarter. Revenue rose 34 percent, to $132.2 million from $99 million in the year-earlier period as royalty revenue climbed to $77.1 million from $52.6 million. Royalty revenue included 39 percent of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s in-market Erbitux sales of $167.2 million, up 38 percent from sales of $121.2 million in the 2005 period.

- AP