FDA approves Medford company’s blood-collection device


FDA approves Medford company’s blood-collection device

A Medford startup’s blood-collection device, which uses an array of tiny needles in an effort to reduce patient discomfort, has been approved for blood-sugar testing by professionals. Seventh Sense Biosystems Inc. said Thursday that its TAP device was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use by health care workers testing hemoglobin A1c, which is used to monitor blood sugar. Seventh Sense said it is seeking FDA approval to use the device in more tests, and for use by patients at home. The TAP device is roughly the size of a stethoscope’s bell. It can be attached to a patient’s arm with an adhesive strip, and uses a ring of 30 spring-loaded “microneedles” — smaller than an eyelash — to puncture the skin and draw blood. Seventh Sense is backed by Boston-area investors Flagship Pioneering and Polaris Partners, along with health care companies Novartis and Laboratory Corporation of America. — CURT WOODWARD


Boston Beer Co. falls after poor earnings report

Boston Beer Co. stock slumped more than 11 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday evening following the release of an earnings report that detailed the company’s poor performance in 2016. An early pioneer of the craft beer industry, Boston Beer reported an operating profit of $137.7 million for the year — down 12 percent from $156.2 million in 2015. Meanwhile, depletions — sales of Boston Beer products from distributors to retailers — fell 5 percent in 2016. The company’s flagship Sam Adams brand family fared particularly poorly, with sales to consumers falling 9 percent and revenues falling 7 percent, according to IRI, a Chicago market research firm. Boston Beer said depletions for the first six weeks of 2017 were down 15 percent from the same period last year. It projected that depletions in 2017 would, at best, grow by 1 percent, and at worst, fall another 7 percent. Jim Koch, the company’s founder and chairman, said he was disappointed by the results — and particularly disappointed by the performance of Samuel Adams Hopscape, a seasonal wheat beer released last month. The company’s Twisted Tea brand did see impressive growth, according to IRI, as did several low-production specialty beers, but that wasn’t nearly enough to erase the decline in Sam Adams sales and an 11-plus percent drop in sales of Boston Beer’s Angry Orchard cider products. Koch blamed the company’s overall struggles in part on the increasingly crowded craft beer market. — DAN ADAMS



Apple’s new headquarters to include a theater named for Steve Jobs

Apple has announced that its new headquarters will open for employees in the spring and will include a theater named for its late cofounder, Steve Jobs. Apple says in a news release on its website that the process of moving its 12,000 employees from its old digs in Cupertino, Calif., to the new Apple Park nearby will begin in April and will take more than six months to complete. The 175-acre campus includes a 2.8 million-square-foot main building in the shape of a giant ring. Apple says the building will run entirely on renewable energy. The campus will also include a 1,000-seat auditorium called the Steve Jobs Theater. Jobs famously unveiled new Apple products at theater events. He died in 2011 at 56 following a battle with cancer. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



January home sales at fastest pace since 2007

Americans shrugged off rising mortgage rates and bought existing homes in January at the fastest pace since 2007. That has set off bidding wars that have pushed up prices as the supply of available homes has dwindled to record lows. Home sales rose 3.3 percent in January from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.69 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The typical house for sale was on the market for just 50 days last month, compared with 64 days a year ago. Strong demand is pushing up median home prices, which jumped 7.1 percent from a year earlier to $228,900. Just 1.69 million homes were on the market nationwide in January, near the lowest level since records began in 1999. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Verizon to test 5G in 11 markets, including Brockton

Verizon Communications Inc. will test faster fifth-generation mobile broadband service in 11 markets in the first half of this year as the nation’s largest wireless carrier tries to take the lead in the 5G race. Working with equipment partners including Ericsson AB and Samsung Electronics Co., Verizon will beam 5G signals to a test group of homes and businesses in Brockton, Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville, N.J., Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., according to a statement released as part of Mobile World Congress, which starts this week in Barcelona. While 5G service isn’t expected to be commercially available until 2020, Verizon and its closest rival, AT&T Inc., are bringing the technology out of the lab and into the hands of actual users to spur development. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


TJX profit tops estimates

TJX’s fiscal fourth-quarter profit topped analysts’ estimates, bolstered by strong sales during the holiday season. The parent company of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and other stores earned $677.9 million, or $1.03 per share, for the period ended Jan. 28. That compares with $666.5 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier. The performance beat the $1 per share that analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research were calling for. The clothing and home decor company’s revenue climbed to $9.47 billion from $8.96 billion, meeting forecasts of analysts polled by Zacks. Sales at stores open at least a year, a key gauge of a retailer’s health, rose 3 percent. This figure excludes results from stores recently opened or closed. For the year, the Framingham-based company reported an adjusted profit of $3.53 per share on revenue of $33.18 billion. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Amazon resists effort by prosecutors to get Echo recordings in murder case

Amazon is resisting an effort by Arkansas prosecutors to obtain potential recordings from a slaying suspect’s Amazon Echo smart speaker, saying authorities haven’t established that their investigation is more important than a customer’s privacy rights. The issue comes in the investigation into the death of Victor Collins, who was found floating face-up in a hot tub in a friend’s Bentonville home in November 2015. The friend, James Andrew Bates, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Benton County prosecutors asked a court to force Amazon to provide data that Bates’s Echo may have collected. Echo devices ‘‘listen’’ for a user’s voice and respond to commands. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


McDonald’s to offer $1 sodas to boost sales

McDonald’s is hoping $1 sodas can help draw more customers into its stores in the United States as it fights to reverse four years of declining visits. The company says it plans to offer $1 sodas of any size for a limited time starting in April, with smoothies, frappes, and shakes being sold for $2. The deals, earlier reported by Bloomberg, come after McDonald’s sales dipped 1.3 percent at established US location in the last quarter of 2016. Customer visits declined for the fourth straight year in 2016 despite the fanfare over its all-day breakfast menu. As it tries to step up the image of its food, McDonald’s is also trying to hold onto deal seekers. It’s an area it’s struggled with since getting rid of its popular Dollar Menu.