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Franklin Electric’s profits up

Franklin Electric Co. on Wednesday reported 2012 annual earnings of $82.9 million, or $3.46 per diluted share, a 31 percent increase from the $63.1 million, or $2.65 a share, posted for 2011. Last year’s results included sales of $891.3 million, a 9 percent increase over the prior year.

The Bluffton-based manufacturer also reported fourth-quarter earnings of $13.1 million, or 55 cents per diluted share, a 14 percent increase over the $11.5 million, or 50 cents a share, posted for the previous year’s fourth quarter.

Scott Trumbull, chairman and CEO, said revenue and adjusted earnings per share set record highs for the third straight year. About 40 percent of fourth-quarter sales came from developing regions, which is a “key strategic focus,” he said in a written statement.

Franklin Electric designs and makes submersible motors and pumping systems used to move water and fuel. Last spring, the company started construction near Fort Wayne International Airport on a new headquarters expected to cost $32 million to $36 million.

Probe finds miswiring of Boeing 787 battery

A probe into the overheating of a lithium-ion battery in an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 that made an emergency landing found it was improperly wired, Japan’s Transport Ministry said Wednesday.

The Transport Safety Board said in a report that the battery for the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit was incorrectly connected to the main battery that overheated, although a protective valve would have prevented power from the auxiliary unit from causing damage.

The agency said more analysis was needed to determine what caused the main battery to overheat and emit the smoke that prompted the Jan. 16 emergency landing of the ANA domestic flight and the worldwide grounding of Boeing 787 jets.

Wholesale inflation mild despite increase

U.S. wholesale prices rose only slightly in January after three straight declines, the latest sign that inflation is posing no threat. It means the Federal Reserve has room to keep interest rates at record lows without worrying about igniting inflation.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that its producer price index rose 0.2 percent last month, the first increase since September. Gasoline and other energy prices fell, while food prices jumped 0.7 percent after dropping sharply in December.

The index measures the cost of goods before they reach consumers. Wholesale prices are what manufacturers and farmers receive for products.

In the past 12 months, wholesale prices have risen just 1.4 percent. That’s down from a 4.1 percent increase for the 12 months that ended January 2012.

Fed minutes show concerns about bonds

Several Federal Reserve policymakers suggested last month that the Fed might have to scale back its efforts to keep borrowing costs low for the foreseeable future.

Minutes of the Fed’s policy meeting Jan. 29-30, released Wednesday, showed that some officials worried about the plan to keep buying $85 billion in bonds each month until the job market has improved substantially.

They expressed concern that the continued purchases could eventually escalate inflation, unsettle financial markets or cause the Fed to absorb losses after it begins selling its investments.