The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 2, 2013

Business in brief 5/3/2013

CTC, Carnegie Mellon robotics center feted

Concurrent Technologies Corp. and Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center were honored with a Gold Edison Award at the Edison Awards Annual Gala held on April 25 in Chicago.

The CTC-NREC team won in the Material Science category for the Advanced Robotic Laser Coating Removal System. Created for the Air Force, the system uses a continuous wave laser to strip paint and other coatings from aircraft. It replaces the abrasives or chemical paint removers used in traditional coating removal processes, which are labor intensive and generate significant hazardous wastes and air emissions.

Pa. slots revenue drops for 5th straight month

PHILADELPHIA – Gross revenue from slot machines at the state’s 11 casinos declined for the fifth straight month in April, down 4 percent from the same period the year before, state gambling regulators reported Thursday.

Casinos brought in $205.2 million in gross revenue from slots last month, or about $9 million less than the previous April, according to figures released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The totals represent the latest piece of evidence that slots growth is leveling off after years of exponential growth.

The only casino to see significant slots growth during the period was Valley Forge Casino Resort, which opened outside Philadelphia in March 2012. Last month, it reported

$5.4 million in gross slots revenue, up nearly 34 percent from the previous April, its first full month in operation.

Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh (up 0.2 percent) and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem (up 0.64 percent) were the only other casinos to show an increase over April 2012.

Lawyers arguing over CMU’s $1.17B verdict

PITTSBURGH – Attorneys for Carnegie Mellon University and a California firm were arguing whether a federal judge should reduce or increase a jury’s $1.17 billion patent infringement verdict in favor of the school.

The Pittsburgh-based university had argued that Marvell Technology Group infringed on patents that came from the work of professor Jose Moura and then-student Alek Kavcic.

In December, a jury awarded the school more than $1 billion based on a royalty of 50 cents per semiconductor chip produced using the technology. More than 2 billion chips were produced.

Marvell’s attorneys want the award reduced under a law that allows judges to do so if a jury returns a verdict that “shocks the conscience.”

Key Rite Aid revenue metric falls in April

CAMP HILL – Rite Aid’s revenue from established stores slipped 4 percent last month, as an earlier Easter and new generic drugs hurt sales for the nation’s third largest drugstore chain.

The Camp Hill, Cumberland County, company said Thursday that pharmacy revenue from stores open at least a year fell a 4.2 percent compared to the same period last year. Revenue from the front end, or rest of the store, fell 3.5 percent.

Revenue from stores open at least a year is considered a key indicator of retailer health because it leaves out results from locations that have opened or closed in the last year.

Rite Aid Corp. said an Easter that fell on March 31 instead of April 8, as it did last year, hurt the front-end performance comparison for the four-week period that ended April 27. Generic drugs pinched the pharmacy, where the prescription count also dropped slightly.  

Total revenue for the month fell 4.6 percent to $1.9 billion.

Kane: Lottery deal to need legislative OK

HARRISBURG – State Attorney General Kathleen Kane says she’s unlikely to approve any proposal to privatize management of the Pennsylvania Lottery unless the Legislature gets to vote on it.

Kane made her comments in an interview at the Philadelphia Inquirer published Thursday.

The Democrat rejected Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s contract with Britain-based Camelot Global Services in February, saying it violates state law and the state constitution. She said she expects a revised proposal from the governor’s office any day now.

Kane said she doesn’t want to judge the new proposal before she receives it, but that she’s unlikely to approve it without the same requirement for legislative approval that other privatization deals require.

European Central Bank cuts interest rate

FRANKFURT, Germany – The European Central Bank cut its key interest rate to a record low 0.50 percent Thursday and announced other measures to spur lending and help lift the euro area out of recession.

ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank was prepared to flex its muscles further in the face of high and rising unemployment and growing evidence that Europe’s economy is getting weaker.  

The ECB lowered its benchmark refinancing rate from 0.75 percent, as expected, at a meeting of its rate-setting council in Bratislava, Slovakia. And out of concern that Europe’s financial industry is lending too cautiously and holding back business investment, the ECB also extended its offer of unlimited, cheap loans to banks at least through July 2014.