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Vera Bradley up 36% in 3rd quarter

Vera Bradley Inc. on Wednesday reported third fiscal quarter earnings of $17.7 million, or 44 cents per diluted share, a 36 percent increase over the $13.0 million, or 32 cents a share, posted for the same three months of last year.

The Fort Wayne-based maker of women’s handbags, luggage, accessories and home decor items follows a fiscal year that ends in late January. The company’s third quarter ended Oct. 27.

The results included a $1.2 million charge for water-damaged inventory and $15 million of inventory ordered ahead of schedule due to an inventory process issue, which has since been fixed. Company officials said during a conference call that they expect to sell most of the additional inventory, which is in best-selling patterns and styles.

The company opened five retail stores during the quarter – four full price and one outlet.

Vera Bradley reported earnings after markets closed. The company’s stock closed Wednesday at $26.21, down $1.11, in trading on the Nasdaq stock market.

Manitowoc workers eligible for assistance

The Labor Department has certified certain employees of Manitowoc Foodservice for benefits under the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

The ruling, issued Nov. 28, applies to local workers losing jobs because the company is consolidating production to Cleveland.

TAA benefits help workers displaced because of foreign imports or shifts in production out of the country. The requirement was met, according to the ruling, because Manitowoc has shifted “production of articles like or directly competitive with articles produced by the workers” to a foreign country.

Services include training, job search assistance and relocation allowances. Contract workers who were assigned to Manitowoc by Aerotek and Top Echelon Network also are eligible.

Manitowoc announced in September the consolidation that will put about 200 local employees out of work by April 30.

Eligible workers can obtain information from WorkOne centers or at

Neuhouser owner files for bankruptcy

The owner of a Fort Wayne nursery and landscaping business has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Neuhouser Inc. announced in September that the sluggish economy and other factors forced it to end operations at Stellhorn Road and at West Jefferson Boulevard. Owner Kenton Neuhouser filed Nov. 27 in the Fort Wayne division of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Court records show Neuhouser with more than $1 million in debt, but only $579,039 in assets.

The company’s website listed 20 employees.

Local building permits activity nearly double

The Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne on Wednesday said there were 53 Allen County residential construction requests in November, compared with 28 permits the same month a year ago. Housing officials have typically attributed major swings in the number of permits to one-time developments or similar activity.

Year-to-date figures showed a 1.4 percent increase at 646 permits.

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