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Obama picks new FCC head

A White House official says President Obama plans to name a former cable and wireless industry lobbyist to head the Federal Communications Commission.

The official said Obama planned to announce today that he was nominating Tom Wheeler as the country’s top telecommunications regulator. The official said Obama would name FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn to serve as acting chairwoman while Wheeler awaits Senate confirmation. The official spoke on a condition of anonymity since the selection had not yet been officially announced.

Wheeler is former head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association and the National Cable Television Association. Since 2005, he has been a venture capitalist at Core Capital Partners.

Wheeler would replace outgoing chairman Julius Genachowski, who announced in March he would be stepping down.

GM stock hits 1-year high

Shares of General Motors Co. hit another 52-week high Tuesday as several analysts predicted strong U.S. sales gains for the company when it releases its April numbers today.

GM, which has an Allen County truck assembly plant and a Defiance, Ohio, foundry, also reports first-quarter earnings on Thursday, and while analysts expect a strong quarter, they see earnings falling a bit from a year ago.

The auto pricing site predicts that GM sales rose more than 10 percent in April, while Kelley Blue Book expects a 12 percent gain. U.S. sales are important because it’s by far GM’s most lucrative market. GM also is expected to announce strong earnings Thursday, with solid performances in North America and China offsetting poor sales in Europe.

Franklin Electric’s earnings decline

Franklin Electric Co. Inc. on Tuesday reported first-quarter earnings of $15.5 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, a 33 percent drop from the $23.0 million, or 30 cents a share, for the same three months of 2012.

The Bluffton-based company, which designs and makes submersible motors and pumping systems, noted that last year’s first quarter included a gain of $12.2 million related to the acquisition of Pioneer Pump Inc.

Without that one-time item, earnings were $14.3 million for that quarter. Compared to that number, the quarter ended March 31 represents an 11 percent increase in profits.

Franklin Electric completed a 2-for-1 stock split on March 18. All earnings-per-share amounts are calculated on a post-split basis, company officials said.

First-quarter sales were $222.5 million, an increase of 10 percent compared to 2012’s first quarter.

Report: Apple selling record bond amounts

The Wall Street Journal said Tuesday that Apple Inc. is selling $17 billion in bonds. That would make it the largest corporate bond issue ever.

Apple is selling the bonds in its first debt issue since the 1990s. The company is raising the money to give to shareholders through dividend payments and stock buybacks.

Apple has enough cash on hand for the $100 billion cash return program it announced last week, but most of that money sits in overseas accounts, and the company doesn’t plan to bring it to the U.S. until the federal corporate tax rate is lowered.