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Briefs

Earnings up at Franklin Electric Co.

Franklin Electric Co. Inc. on Tuesday reported first-quarter earnings of $17.0 million, or 35 cents a diluted common share, a 10 percent increase from the $15.5 million, or 32 cents a share, posted for the same three-month period in 2013.

After adjustments, Franklin Electric’s earnings for the quarter ended March 31 set a record for any quarter in the company’s history. The company also reported record sales of $231.4 million, a 4 percent increase over last year’s first quarter.

The Fort Wayne company designs and makes submersible motors and pumping systems used to move water and fuel. Customers include homeowners, municipalities and companies in commercial, agricultural and other industries.

Franklin Electric has scheduled its annual shareholder meeting for 9 a.m. Friday, the same day that Scott Trumbull will retire as CEO. Gregg Sengstack, president and chief operating officer, will become CEO. Trumbull will be non-executive chairman of the board.

First Financial posts 9% earnings growth

First Financial Bancorp on Tuesday reported first-quarter earnings of $15.1 million, or 26 cents a diluted common share, a 9 percent increase over the $13.8 million, or 24 cents a share, posted for last year’s first quarter.

The Cincinnati parent of First Financial Bank also announced the $13.5 million acquisition of Guernsey Bancorp Inc., which serves the Columbus, Ohio, market. The Guernsey Bank reported $123 million in total assets as of Dec. 31.

First Financial Bank entered the Fort Wayne market in December when it opened a downtown office staffed with more than a dozen former Tower Bank commercial and mortgage loan officers and support staff.

Home price gains slow for 3rd straight month

U.S. home price gains cooled in February from the previous year for the third month in a row, as harsh winter weather and high buying costs have slowed sales.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.9 percent in February, compared with 12 months earlier.

While healthy, that is down from a 13.2 percent gain in January.

And home prices fell in 13 of the 20 cities in February, compared with the previous month. The index is not adjusted for seasonal variations.

Toyota moving base to suburban Dallas

Toyota delivered a surprise pink slip to California on Monday, announcing the company would move its U.S. headquarters and about 3,000 jobs from the Los Angeles suburbs to the outskirts of Dallas.

The world’s largest automaker will keep a foothold in the Golden State – about 2,300 jobs will remain in California after the company settles into its new corporate campus in Plano, Texas.

Committee approves Fed board nominees

A Senate committee on Tuesday advanced the nominations of three officials selected by President Barack Obama to fill vacancies on the seven-member Federal Reserve Board.

The Banking Committee approved the nominations of Stanley Fischer as vice chairman and Lael Brainard as board member. It also approved the nomination of Jerome Powell, a current board member, for another term.

The three, approved on a voice vote, are expected to win easy approval in the full Senate.

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