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Penney’s acts to foil takeover bid

J.C. Penney is bolstering its shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill” – typically an effort to thwart takeover attempts.

The shareholder rights plan can now be put into effect if a person or group acquires 4.9 percent or more of its outstanding stock. That’s down from a 10 percent threshold.

The corporate defense strategy allows existing shareholders to buy more shares at a very low price if that occurs.

J.C. Penney Co. said Tuesday that the purpose of lowering the threshold is to protect its ability to use certain funds that can be used for tax benefits.

The Plano, Texas-based department store chain is cutting jobs and closing stores in an effort to return to profitability.

Shares rose 6 cents to $6.57 in premarket trading Tuesday. The stock has lost two-thirds of its value over the past 12 months as J.C. Penney tries to recover from the losses and sales declines that resulted from former CEO Ron Johnson’s makeover efforts.

Ford ends 13 strong, faces tough new year

Ford Motor Co. enjoyed one of the best years in its history in 2013, but the celebration won’t last long.

The Dearborn, Mich.,-based automaker posted a pretax profit of $8.56 billion – the second-highest in the past decade – and worldwide sales were up 12 percent to 6.3 million cars and trucks.

That was a faster pace than Toyota, the industry leader, whose sales rose 2 percent to 9.98 million.

But Ford has already warned of leaner results this year as it launches a record 23 vehicles and builds seven plants around the world. It’s anticipating 13 weeks of expensive down time – up from five in 2013 – at its two U.S. pickup truck plants to prepare for the launch of a new aluminum-clad F-150. And instability in South America and price competition in the U.S. are constant threats.

Comcast gaining video subscribers

Comcast Corp. added 43,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter – the first quarterly gain in more than six years – as the nation’s top cable TV company said that uptake of its X1 set-top box helped it retain customers and boost video-on-demand spending.

The company also said Tuesday that it has hiked its share buyback authority and is raising its quarterly dividend. Its shares rose in morning trading.

Net income in the three months through December rose 26 percent to $1.91 billion, or 72 cents a share, from $1.52 billion, or 56 cents a share a year ago. However, the increase was partly due to a one-time tax windfall of $158 million.

Excluding the tax gain, earnings per share came to 66 cents.

Verizon shareholders ratify Vodafone deal

Verizon says its shareholders have approved its $130 billion deal to buy the 45 percent stake in its wireless division owned by British cellphone carrier Vodafone.

As part of the deal, Verizon will issue up to 1.28 billion shares of common stock to Vodafone shareholders. Vodafone Group PLC shareholders also approved the deal at a meeting held earlier Tuesday.

New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. says buying Vodafone’s stake will give it greater flexibility to invest in new technologies. Once the deal closes, it will no longer have to share its wireless operating profits with Vodafone.