Idexx invites staff to take paid time off to volunteer

Idexx Laboratories employees are being encouraged to take two paid days a year to volunteer in their communities.

Chief Executive Officer Jon Ayers announced the new policy Thursday at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center. Idexx, based in Westbrook, makes health care products for animals.

The policy is an offer to nearly 5,000 employees worldwide, including about 1,600 in Maine.

The policy could create as many as 3,330 volunteer days in Maine, which translates to a full-time employee working every day for nine years, the company said.

Acquisition adds acreage for Maine forest company

A Maine-based forest management company is expanding into New Hampshire, Vermont and New York by acquiring a company that operates in those states.

Prentiss & Carlisle President Donald White said the acquisition of Upland Forestry adds nearly 270,000 acres to the 1.5 million acres the company manages in six states and Quebec.

White said that with the acquisition of Upland Forestry, Prentiss & Carlisle becomes one of the largest multiregional forest management firms in the country.

Prentiss & Carlisle is based in Bangor. Upland Forestry is based in Bristol, Vt., and has offices in New Hampshire and New York.

Ex-Obama car czar settles one case, sued in another

Former Obama car czar Steven Rattner has agreed to pay $6.2 million to settle federal charges over his role in a pay-to-play scandal, but said he won’t be “bullied” by New York’s attorney general into accepting a harsher penalty in a parallel state case.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday that Rattner had accepted the fine and a two-year ban from the securities industry to resolve allegations that he paid illegal kickbacks to help his private equity firm land a lucrative investment from a state pension fund.

Similar settlement talks with state officials collapsed, however, and on Thursday, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed two lawsuits seeking a much tougher punishment: at least $26 million and a lifetime ban from the securities business.

Dell’s net income doubles as firms replace technology

Personal computer maker Dell Inc. said Thursday that its net income for the latest quarter more than doubled as companies spent more to replace aging technology.

Dell’s earnings topped Wall Street’s expectations, and investors sent shares up nearly 6 percent after the results were announced.

Businesses of all sizes, plus government agencies and other public-sector customers, spent more with Dell in the quarter. Large-enterprise revenue jumped 27 percent to $4.3 billion from a year ago, and small and medium business increased 24 percent to $3.7 billion. Public-sector revenue rose 20 percent to $4.4 billion, with government business steady.

Sears Holdings sees losses double in the third quarter

Sears Holdings Corp.’s third-quarter loss nearly doubled, dragged down by weak revenue at its Sears chain and poor sales of appliances and clothing.

Business at its Kmart discount stores held up better, but they still saw a key revenue measure edge downward. The chain is expected to face even more pressure in the holiday quarter amid stiffer competition from rivals like Target and Wal-Mart.

Sears Holdings, led by billionaire Edward Lampert, posted a loss of $218 million, or $1.98 per share. That compares with a loss of $127 million, or $1.09 per share, in the same period last year.

The miserable results renewed discussion on Wall Street on why the two chains combined in 2005 in the first place.