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Delta alters its frequent flier policy

Delta Air Lines is changing its frequent flier program to favor passengers who buy the priciest tickets instead of those who fly the most miles. It’s a bid to lure higher-spending business travelers, who often book flights on short notice and pay more than bargain-hunting leisure travelers.

Beginning next year, Delta will base miles toward free flights on the amount that passengers spend on tickets. Currently, members of its SkyMiles program earn miles based on how far they fly – it doesn’t matter whether they bought an expensive first-class seat or the cheapest ticket in economy.

Delta will become the biggest U.S. airline yet to make such a change.

Virgin America and JetBlue Airways Corp.’s “True Blue” frequent flier program award points based on dollars spent, not miles flown. Southwest Airlines Co. overhauled its Rapid Rewards program in 2011 to award free tickets based on money spent.

Lowe’s profit rises on housing recovery

Lowe’s fiscal fourth-quarter net income rose 6 percent as the home-improvement retailer continued to benefit from the housing market’s recovery.

The company also announced a $5 billion stock repurchase program Wednesday.

The U.S. housing market has emerged from a deep slump, aided by rising home prices, steady job growth and fewer troubled loans dating back to the housing-bubble days. That has spurred customers to spend more to renovate their homes.

Lowe’s Cos. earned $306 million, or 29 cents a share, for the period ended Jan. 31. That’s up from $288 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding impairment charges, earnings were 31 cents a share.

J.C. Penney ekes out profit in 4th quarter

J.C. Penney swung to a small profit in the fourth quarter from a massive loss a year ago. The improved results come even as the beleaguered retailer had a revenue shortfall.

The results, which cover the crucial holiday shopping season, show signs that Penney’s is making strides in recovering from a botched transformation plan.

The retailer is trying to win back shoppers by restoring the sales events and basic merchandise that the company ditched in a bid to attract younger, wealthier consumers.

Last month, the retailer announced thousands of job cuts and the closure of 33 stores.

Penney’s earned $35 million, or 11 cents a share, in the three-month period ended Feb. 1. That compares with a massive loss of $552 million, or $2.51 a share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue slipped 2.6 percent to $3.78 billion. Excluding a tax benefit and other items, it had a loss of $206 million, or 68 cents a share, in the quarter.