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JC Penney beats expectations as sales improve

Updated: Saturday, May 17, 2014 |
JC Penney beats expectations as sales improve story image
NEW YORK (AP) - J.C. Penney said a key sales figure rose in its first quarter, offering an encouraging sign for the beleaguered department store operator.

The company, which is based in Plano, Texas, said sales at stores open at least a year rose 6.2 percent in the period, marking the second straight quarterly gain.

Penney has been trying to recover from a botched transformation plan by its former CEO, but there's still a lot of work to do.

The company said it lost $352 million, or $1.15 per share for the period ended May 3, which was better than the loss of $1.25 per share analysts expected. A year ago, the lost $1.58 per share.

Revenue rose to $2.8 billion, above the $2.71 billion analysts expected.
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FDA-TOBACCO

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to the makers of Winston, Natural Spirit and Nat Sherman cigarettes over their "additive-free" and "natural" label claims.

The agency issued the warnings to ITG Brands LLC, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc. and Sherman's 1400 Broadway N.Y.C. Ltd. The issue over the claims is that they may lead consumers to believe the products pose a lower risk. That claim has to be scientifically proven.

In a statement, the FDA said it has determined that the products under the warning letter need what is called a "modified risk tobacco product order" before they can be marketed in that way. It has not issued any orders for modified-risk products to the market and this is the first time it is using its authority to take action against "natural" or "additive-free" claims.

The companies have 15 days to respond with a plan or dispute the warnings.

GENERIC BIOTECH-DRUG NAMES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has released its proposal for naming lower-cost biotech drugs, a critical step in creating a market for the new class of medicines.

Biotech drugs are powerful, injected medicines produced in living cells which are typically much more expensive than traditional chemical-based drugs.

For decades, they have not faced generic competition because the FDA lacked a system to approve cheaper versions until 2012. Earlier this year the agency approved the first lower-cost biotech drug, a knock-off of the blood booster, Neupogen.

But many questions remain about how the new drugs will be sold, including whether they can use the same ingredient names as the original products.

Under an FDA proposal, biotech drugs would include a four-letter code to help doctors distinguish them from the original versions.

HIDDEN GULF SPILL-SETTLEMENT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Environmental groups and a New Orleans company that failed to end a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico have reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit over the slow-motion spill.

Taylor Energy Company says it has agreed under the settlement to spend $400,000 to foster coastal research and will host a public forum and publish a website with information on the company's spill response.

Environmental groups led by the Waterkeeper Alliance sued Taylor Energy in 2012, accusing it of withholding information about the leak's potential impact on the Gulf ecosystem.

The groups also argued that the public was entitled to know more about the company's government-supervised efforts to stop the leak, which was the subject of an Associated Press investigation in April.

MCDONALD'S-CHICKEN ABUSE

NEW YORK (AP) -- McDonald's and its supplier Tyson Foods say they've cut ties with a chicken farmer after an advocacy group released a video taken with a hidden camera that the group said showed abusive practices at its farm.

The video was released by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group that says it has released more than 40 similar videos in the past. The footage shows people scooping chickens into a bucket by whacking them with spike on the end of a pole, and standing on birds' heads to break their necks.

Tyson Foods Inc. said in a statement that it was investigating the situation, but that it terminated the farmer's contract "based on what we currently know." McDonald's Corp. said it supported Tyson's decision to terminate its contract with the farmer in question.

APPLE EVENT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Apple has announced plans for a new product event on Sept. 9 in San Francisco, where the giant tech company is expected to show off new iPhones and other gadgets.

Invitations for the event were sent to reporters and analysts this morning. In usual fashion, Apple is only hinting at what to expect. The invitations mention Apple's digital assistant, "Siri." Apple has previously said it plans to expand Siri's features in the new version of its operating software for iPhones and iPads.

Along with a new iPhone model, tech industry insiders have speculated Apple may introduce a larger iPad and a new set-top box for television sets. The company however has not confirmed any plans.

The event will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in downtown San Francisco.

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