March 17, 2010

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By MATT WICKENHEISER Staff Writer

— Biddeford company to be sold in $23.3 million deal

Deep Down Inc. of Houston, Texas, said it planned to acquire Biddeford-based Flotation Technologies in a stock purchase deal worth an estimated $23.3 million.

Flotation Technologies engineers, designs and makes buoyancy products for marine applications, including offshore oil, oceanographic, seismic and government markets.

Flotation Tech President Tim Cook said his company saw record growth in 2007, doubled its revenue and moved to a plant twice the size of its old home. Revenue for the year ending March 31 was $17.27 million, according to the company.

Seafood entrepreneurs win national recognition

The Small Business Administration has named Cape Elizabeth natives John and Brendan Ready, owners of Ready Seafood and Catch a Piece of Maine, as the national young entrepreneurs of the year.

Ready Seafood is a wholesale lobster distribution company with domestic and international sales including Spain, Italy, France, China and Japan. The Ready Brothers launched Catch a Piece of Maine in October. The program offers limited memberships, allowing partners to own a lobster trap fished by a Maine lobsterman and everything it catches for one year.

Wal-Mart won't charge fee to cash stimulus checks

Wal-Mart says it won't charge a fee to cash customers' economic stimulus checks.

The world's largest retailer said Tuesday that no purchase will be required. Wal-Mart typically charges up to $3 to cash payroll or government checks.

The company's Sam's Club warehouse stores also will cash the checks at no charge.

The tax rebates are expected to reach 130 million households. The payments range up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for married couples, plus $300 per child.

Countrywide posts its third quarterly loss

Countrywide Financial Corp. said Tuesday it lost $893 million in the first quarter, as rising loan defaults amid a deepening housing downturn forced the nation's largest mortgage lender and servicer to sharply increase its provision for loan losses and book other credit-related charges.

The results marked the third consecutive quarterly loss for Countrywide, which reaped a windfall during the housing boom but has been struggling since last summer, despite predictions last fall by CEO Angelo Mozilo that his company would turn a profit in 2008.

The Calabasas, Calif.-based company agreed in January to be sold to Bank of America Corp. for about $4 billion in stock.

The company said its loss amounted to $1.60 per share for the quarter ended March 31. A year earlier, it earned $434 million, or 72 cents per share.

Revenue plunged 72 percent to $679 million from $2.4 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Oil prices and demand fall, but prices at pump rise

Oil prices fell more than $3 a barrel Tuesday as the market absorbed data showing demand is falling even as supplies are rising. Meanwhile, gasoline prices inched higher at the pump, continuing their record-breaking press toward $4 a gallon.

A monthly Energy Department report said demand for finished petroleum products dropped 8.5 percent in February from January, and demand for gasoline fell by 6.2 percent. Though some of that drop can be attributed to February's being a shorter month, it still suggests high prices are cutting American's appetite for fuel.

A British refinery strike ended Tuesday, and analysts surveyed by Platts expect the Energy Department's weekly inventory report today to show domestic crude supplies rose last week.

-- From staff and news services

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