Credit union offers relief loans

Westbury-based credit union NEFCU began offering low-interest hurricane relief loans this week, contributing to the relief effort after superstorm Sandy devastated parts of Long Island. NEFCU members will be able to apply for loans of up to $20,000 on 1 percent fixed interest for a year. After a year, the loan will revert to the regular interest rate the customer would have received on the day of the loan application. Eligibility for the hurricane relief loans, as well as the interest rate the client will receive after the one-year period, will depend on credit history, said John De Ieso, NEFCU's chief information officer. The loans are for individual customers, De Ieso said, adding that the credit union is working with its business customers on a case-by-case basis to offer customized solutions. NEFCU services 150,000 individual customers across Long Island and about 500 business clients. Non-NEFCU members can open an account with the credit union with a $5 deposit and apply for the relief loan immediately. De Ieso said the loans could be especially helpful for Sandy victims who cannot wait for insurance payouts and need money immediately to buy essentials. -- Lisa Du

Lifetime Brands earnings fall

Lifetime Brands Inc., the Garden City-based maker of kitchenware, tabletop products and home decor, said its third-quarter earnings fell about 48 percent from the same period last year, as demand for tabletop and home solutions products fell. Net income was $3.9 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, dropping from $7.5 million from the same period a year ago. Net sales increased 2.7 percent to $128.1 million, compared to $124.7 million the prior year. The company said that sales increased as a result of including sales of Creative Tops, a kitchenware and tableware wholesaler acquired in November 2011, as well as a 15.4 percent increase in sales of its kitchenware products. -- Keiko Morris


Priceline.com buying Kayak

Priceline.com Inc. plans to buy online travel-research company Kayak Software Corp. for $1.8 billion to expand its travel business. Priceline will pay about $500 million in cash and $1.3 billion in stock and assumed options. The deal values Kayak at $40 a share, a 29 percent premium over its closing price Thursday. Shares of Kayak soared in after-hours trading while Priceline shares fell. Kayak allows users to compare hundreds of travel sites when looking for flights, hotels and rental cars. It then sends the consumer to other websites to complete their purchase and earns fees on the referrals.

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Galaxy seen ahead of iPhone

A research firm says that Samsung's Galaxy S3 overtook Apple's iPhone 4S as the world's bestselling smartphone for the first time in the third quarter. Boston-based Strategy Analytics said Thursday the S3 shipped 18 million units in the third quarter. Apple's iPhone 4S, meanwhile, shipped 16.2 million units, as many people likely held off to buy its successor. Apple launched the iPhone 5 on Sept. 21. Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston says Galaxy's top position is likely to be short-lived. The iPhone 5 sold an estimated 6 million units in the third quarter, ended on Sept. 30.

Groupon books small loss

Groupon Inc., the No. 1 online deals service, failed to show investors Thursday that its business is growing as quickly as they would like, as it was hurt by what it called "continued challenges" from the economic weakness in Europe. The company booked a small loss in the third quarter as higher revenue wasn't enough to make up for stock compensation and other expenses. Though revenue grew by nearly a third, it was below Wall Street's expectations. The Chicago-based company's stock fell sharply in after-hours trading following the announcement. -- AP