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Duracell offers power to New York, New Jersey following Sandy outages

BY Melissa Valliant

BETHEL, Conn. — Procter & Gamble battery brand Duracell is assisting with post-Sandy relief efforts by bringing a little power to, coincidentally, Battery Park in New York.

The company set up its Power Forward Community Center in the lower Manhattan park — offering New Yorkers charging stations for mobile phones and devices, as well as computers with Internet access — and sent its Rapid Responder four-by-four truck, introduced just this year, straight to the streets of New York and New Jersey. Both the power-relief center and the Rapid Responder truck — which Duracell calls its "PowerForward Fleet" — are offering battery samples to help people power their radios and flashlights, and the truck is expected to make multiple stops throughout the Hoboken, N.J., area.

"We’re sending the power-relief center to Lower Manhattan because it’s a high concentration of people and one of the hardest-hit," said Duracell spokesman Win Sakdinan. "But there are some areas in New York and New Jersey that can’t be reached with that, and the Rapid Responder is more agile because it’s just a four-by-four."

The Bethel, Conn.-based company, which also felt the effects of the superstore, had a plan for battery shortages in stores as well: Its Mobile Command Center responds to retailers in need of restocking. However, many of the local retailers had in enough batteries in stock to render this unnecessary.

"You prepare as much as you can, but demand from consumers can be unpredictable," Sakdinan said.

For updates on the Rapid Responder truck’s upcoming locations and scheduling, visit Facebook.com/Duracell or follow @Duracell on Twitter.

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Meijer offers toy discounts for holiday season

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Meijer is offering discounts on more than 400 toys at stores and online in anticipation of the holiday season as many customers are likely to want to keep prices down, the Midwestern mass-merchandise chain said Thursday.

The chain also plans to release a holiday gift guide that includes 18 pages of toys and an online release of its list of its top 25 toys. The toy discounts include toys in “virtually every” category, ranging from action figures to educational toys.

“Meijer understands that our customers are continuing to keep a close eye on price tags this holiday season, which is why we’re once again offering price drops on a variety of the hottest toys,” Meijer toy merchandising manager Adam Whitney said. 

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AmerisourceBergen reports $80 billion in fiscal 2012 revenue, looking to divest AndersonBrecon

BY Michael Johnsen

VALLEY FORGE, Pa. — AmerisourceBergen on Thursday reported revenue dropped 0.6% to $79.5 billion for its fiscal 2012 ended Sept. 30. Diluted earnings per share were a record $2.76, up 10% over the prior fiscal year diluted earnings per share from continuing operations. Gross profit was up 6.7% to $2.7 billion.

“Solid results across all of our business units and contributions from our recent acquisitions drove strong performance in the September quarter and in our full fiscal year 2012,” stated Steven Collis, AmerisourceBergen president and CEO. “Outstanding performance in AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation, particularly in generic pharmaceuticals, helped overcome a difficult comparison to the prior year and drove operating income growth and margin expansion. The strength of ABDC, as well as the opportunities we see ahead for specialty distribution and our manufacturer services businesses, gave us the confidence to increase our annual dividend by 62% and to complete an accelerated share repurchase of $650 million."

AmerisourceBergen also announced that it is pursuing the sale of AndersonBrecon, its contract pharmaceutical packaging business, so that it can focus on its distribution, specialty and manufacturer services businesses. The company has solicited buyers and is currently reviewing initial bids for the business. 

The AmerisourceBergen board increased the dividend paid on common stock by 62% and declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.21, payable on Dec. 3 to shareholders of record on Nov. 19. In addition, the board also approved a new $750 million share repurchase authorization. Following the completion of a $650 million accelerated share repurchase program during the September quarter, the Company still has $97 million remaining on its prior May 2012 authorization, bringing the total amount authorized for repurchases to $847 million.

“Looking ahead, the company expects diluted earnings per share from continuing operations in fiscal year 2013 to be in the range of $3.06 to $3.16, an 11% to 14% increase over fiscal 2012,” Collis said. “Key assumptions supporting that range are: revenue growth in the 6% to 9% range; operating income growth in the 3% to 5% range; an operating margin decline in the low double-digit basis points range; and free cash flow in the range of $750 million to $850 million, which includes capital expenditures in the $180 million range."

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