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Penney's profit drops but tops expectations

NEW YORK --- J.C. Penney Co. posted fourth-quarter profit that surpassed its expectations and issued an upbeat forecast for 2010 on Friday after a holiday season where it did all it could to avoid clearance discounting.

The department-store chain's fourth-quarter profit fell 5.2 percent, dragged down by a big expense for its pension plan. However, by reducing holiday inventory and sticking to planned promotions, the company boosted its gross profit margin from a year ago, Chairman and CEO Myron Ullman III told investors during its conference call.

Drug's development breaks down for J&J

Johnson & Johnson on Friday said it terminated a partnership to develop a highly touted drug for MRSA and other dangerous skin infections after European regulators rejected it over concerns that testing data isn't reliable.

Switzerland's Basilea Pharmaceutica Ltd. discovered the antibiotic compound, called ceftobiprole. The company had been J&J's partner since granting the world's largest maker of health care products an exclusive worldwide license five years ago for a drug some analysts thought would be a blockbuster.

But U.S. regulators turned it down two months ago and on Friday, Basel-based Basilea said the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use refused to approve the drug.

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