Without tax benefit, CR Bard says 4Q profit fell

Medical device maker C. R. Bard Inc. said Thursday its profit fell 29 percent in the fourth quarter due to higher income tax and research and development costs.

Bard said its profit slipped to $105.9 million, or $1.08 per share, from $149.4 million, or $1.46 per share. In the fourth quarter it reported losses related to acquisitions and an insurance settlement, along with a gain on an insurance recovery. Leaving out those items the company said it earned $1.39 per share.

Analysts expected a profit of $1.34 per share, according to an average compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Bard’s provision for income taxes rose to $57.6 million from $16.4 million. A year ago, the company received a benefit after the IRS completed a review of its taxes from previous years. It also said research and development costs jumped 46 percent, to $58.5 million. [Read the full article]

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Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. said raising prices on cigarettes and cigars and cutting costs more than $150 million helped its fourth-quarter profit climb 7 percent, even as it sold fewer cigarettes and cigars than a year earlier.

The Richmond-based owner of Philip Morris USA said, however, that it expects 2010 to be challenging and that continuing economic pressure and proposed state tax hikes could hurt tobacco sales.

The company said it sold 11.4 percent fewer cigarettes in the fourth quarter than a year earlier. Altria estimated a total industry decline of about 10 percent.

For the year, its cigarette volume fell slightly faster — 12.2 percent — while the industry’s was more stable, falling 8 percent, according to Altria’s estimate. [Read the full article]

Georgia is mired in a budget hole, but that’s not stopping Republicans from pushing forward tax cuts that could drain hundreds of millions of dollars from state coffers.

GOP leaders in the House and Senate gathered Thursday to unveil a wide-ranging package of tax cuts and credits they say would help spur job creation in Georgia, where unemployment stands at 10.3 percent.

“We want to reward success. We want to reward investment,” state Rep. Tom Graves, the sponsor of the two bills, said.

Gov. Sonny Perdue, a fellow Republican, vetoed a similar bill last year saying the state couldn’t afford it at a time when revenues were already plunging.

The Republican lawmakers’ plan would, among other things, give employers a $2,400 tax credit for hiring someone who has been unemployed for at least four weeks. It would give companies a quarterly tax credit for each eligible employee hired who had been receiving unemployment benefits. [Read the full article]

 A plan to eliminate tax breaks for candy and soft drinks reduced one vendor to tears Thursday as Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter sought to balance the state budget by shedding special interest exemptions on junk food and junk mail.

The vendor began crying when he realized he would have to change 30,000 prices by March or pay back taxes and a penalty if Ritter’s junk food proposal passes the Legislature.

The exemption for candy and soft drinks would save $3.5 million this year and $18 million next year. The governor’s plan to suspend a tax exemption for junk mail, which is expected to restore $290,000 in the current budget and $1.4 million in next year’s budget, was the first to pass the House Finance Committee.

Ritter’s proposal had support from teachers, students and retirees, who said they sacrificed to prop up the state budget and believe it’s time for businesses to share the pain. [Read the full article]

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