Business news

First Bank parent reports earnings


The parent company of First Bank of Georgia reported earnings of $4 million for 2011.

Augusta-based holding company Georgia-Carolina Bancshares Inc. also reported Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit was $938,000, or 26 cents per share, compared with $1.4 million, or 42 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2010.

“Our earnings of more than $4 million are impressive in this current economy relative to other banks in Georgia and the Southeast. While loan demand remains soft, we enjoyed strong growth in core deposits,” President Remer Brinson III said.

For all of 2010, the banking company had net income of $1.5 million.

Textron reports net loss of $19 million

Diversified U.S. manufacturer Textron Inc. reported a quarterly loss after taking a hefty charge to write down the value of loans on golf courses – a hangover from the financial crisis.

The world’s largest maker of corporate aircraft posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $19 million, or 7 cents per share, compared with year-earlier income of $60 million, or 19 cents per share.

The company, which also makes Bell helicopters and E-Z-Go golf carts, forecast 2012 earnings from continuing operations of $1.80 to $2 per share, up from $1.31 in 2011.

For Augusta-based E-Z-Go, which is part of the company’s industrial sector, those sector revenues increased $70 million, primarily because of higher overall volumes. Segment profit increased $24 million reflecting improved performance and the higher volume.

J.C. Penney will mark down prices

NEW YORK — J.C. Penney is permanently marking down all of its merchandise by at least 40 percent so shoppers no longer have to wait for sales to get bargains.

Penney said Wednesday that it is getting rid of the hundreds of sales it offers each year in favor of a simpler approach to pricing. Starting on Feb. 1, the retailer is rolling out an “Every Day” pricing strategy with much fewer sales throughout the year.

The plan, the first major move by Apple executive Ron Johnson since he became Penney’s CEO in November, is different from Wal-Mart’s iconic everyday low pricing. Unlike Wal-Mart, Penney’s goal isn’t to undercut competitors, but rather to offer customers more predictable pricing.

Airlines’ earnings top expectations

Delta and US Airways both reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday, capping two consecutive years of annual profits. By avoiding deep discounts on fares and unprofitable routes, the two carriers have done well even as fuel costs soar and the economic recovery remains fragile.

Delta’s fourth-quarter profit totaled $425 million, up from $19 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 8 percent to $8.4 billion, countering a 5-percent rise in fuel expenses on its mainline operations. Other costs were flat. Delta is the nation’s second-largest airline company.

US Airways Group Inc., the fifth-biggest airline, earned $18 million, down from $28 million a year earlier as fuel prices rose. Revenue rose 9 percent to $3.2 billion.

Both companies’ profits were better than analysts expected.

In other news

SOUTHERN CO.’S fourth-quarter profit rose 70 percent, helped by lower costs and higher rates at one of its units. The power company’s net profit rose to $261 million, or 30 cents a share, from $153 million, or 18 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue fell 2 percent to $3.7 billion.

HIGHER OIL PRICES are making it easier for ConocoPhillips to complete a massive transformation this year. The Houston energy company said Wednesday that its profit rose 66.1 percent in the fourth quarter even as it produced less oil. ConocoPhillips reported net income of $3.39 billion, or $2.56 per share, compared with $2.04 billion, or $1.39 per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 17.2 percent to $62.4 billion.

UPS WILL LAY OFF more than 400 workers at its logistics center in northern Kentucky, a significant cutback in the workforce in response to losing business from an online retailer, the company said Wednesday.

WAL-MART STORES has removed greeters from the overnight shift at its U.S. supercenters. The move will save money and ensure the world’s largest retailer has the right staffing levels during peak and non-peak hours, spokesman David Tovar said.

– From staff and wire reports