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VOL. 125 | NO. 167 | Friday, August 27, 2010

Daily Digest

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First Alliance Buys Back Houston Levee Trails Acreage

First Alliance Bank has bought back about 30 acres in Houston Levee Trails Planned Development at a foreclosure sale on the Shelby County Courthouse steps. The bank paid $1.7 million for the property, which sold at an Aug. 18 sale.

The Houston Levee Trails development is south of Highway 64, on both sides of Houston Levee Road. The property was foreclosed because South 64 Joint Venture defaulted on a $1.8 million loan taken out in August 2001. The original lender was FirstBank, according to loan documents.

South 64 Joint Venture was composed of William T. Edwards and Clair D. Vanderschaaf Jr., according to foreclosure sale documents.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Kate Simone

American Snuff to Lay Off 45

Memphis-based American Snuff LLC has notified the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development that it plans to lay off 45 salaried employees.

The layoffs will occur from Sept. 30 to Dec.13, according to the information the company provided to the state.

A company spokesman said the jobs are being eliminated as the result of administrative streamlining. The company’s headquarters and its research and development staff will remain in Memphis.

The company over the last year has invested $19.3 million in the purchase of a 786,500-square-foot facility at 5106 Tradeport Ave. in Hickory Hill. It has filed building permits totaling $7.2 million to improve the property. As part of the expansion, the company will add an undisclosed amount of hourly employees.

American Snuff is owned by Reynolds­American.

Tom Wilemon

Fred’s Q2 Net Income Up 17 Percent

Memphis-based discount merchant Fred’s Inc. posted a 17 percent jump in second-quarter net income Thursday, riding a wave of stronger sales from better foot traffic and higher margins on the products it sold.

Even as general merchandise sales gain traction, the company’s pharmacy business is feeling the effects of an industry-wide slump.

CEO Bruce Efird said in the next 18 months the company will be hurt by changes in third-party reimbursement rates, falling sales because of greater use of generic drugs and expansion of pricing for generics at $4.

Still, even with those challenges, overall revenue at stores open at least a year rose 2.5 percent in the quarter, a key measurement of growth in the industry.

The general store operator said it earned nearly $5 million, or 13 cents per share, during the three-month period that ended on July 31. That compares with earnings of $4.2 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.

Net revenue rose 3.5 percent to $449.5 million, up from $434.2 million last year.

Excluding higher income taxes, the company earned 14 cents per share.

Fred’s, which has 674 stores, expects its revenue to rise between 4 percent and 5 percent in the current quarter, and revenue at stores open at least a year to jump 2 percent to 4 percent. It expects net income to range from 16 cents to 19 cents per share, and maintained its annual guidance of earnings per share to range from 72 cents to 79 cents.

– The Associated Press

Stanton Unveils Heroin Bust in 1st US Atty. Appearance

Newly confirmed U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton made his first public appearance Wednesday as the chief federal prosecutor for West Tennessee unveiling a substantial investigation of an alleged heroin ring.

A Memphis federal grand jury returned a sealed 30-count indictment against 22 defendants accused of dealing heroin in the Memphis area, including Collierville, Germantown, Bartlett and Fayette County, over the last two years. All 22 are charged with drug conspiracy, and most are also charged with heroin possession with intent to distribute.

Federal and local authorities on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force began rounding up those accused Wednesday and served 16 search warrants.

– Bill Dries

Perkins Promotes Two Executives

Memphis-based Perkins & Marie Callender’s Inc. has promoted Cheryl Ahlbrandt to executive vice president, marketing and research & development, and has promoted Toni Quist to senior vice president, human resources and training.

Ahlbrandt is responsible for Perkins’ and Marie Callender’s marketing teams and the company’s food and beverage research and development efforts. She joined the company in April 2006 as vice president of marketing.

Quist’s purview includes providing leadership to the more than 30-person team supporting employment, benefits, compensation, training and operations services. She began her career with Perkins in 1976, working as a server in a Perkins restaurant in Minnesota.

Andy Meek

Pinnacle Amends Loan, Will Use It for Spare Parts

Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines Corp. says it increased funds available under a three-year loan and will use the proceeds to buy spare parts.

In a regulatory filing Thursday, Pinnacle said it amended the loan with CIT Bank last week.

Pinnacle and subsidiaries Pinnacle Airlines Inc. and Colgan Air Inc. amended the loan to increased the commitment by $4.5 million, extend the maturity about two years to June 30, 2014, and reduce the London Interbank Offered Rate floor by one-half of 1 percent.

The company said it would use the additional funds to buy spare parts for its new Q400 aircraft deliveries in the next two to four months. The parts will serve as security for the loan.

Pinnacle and Colgan operate regional flights for other airlines.

– The Associated Press

UTHSC Raises Money for Pakistan Flood Victims

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center raised nearly $7,000 to support the flood victims in Pakistan.

UTHSC faculty, staff and students raised $3,000 during a six-hour fundraising drive on the main campus of the Health Science Center.

The UT Cancer Institute, with 200 employees at ten locations in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, raised more than $4,000 over four days, all through payroll deductions.

– Taylor Shoptaw

Businesses Offered Energy Efficiency Loans

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development has launched a $50 million loan program to help companies in the state invest in energy efficiency.

The money can be used for energy retrofits, energy-efficient technology and renewable energy systems.

The loans will be offered at 5 percent with terms extending to 10 years. They will be administered by Pathway Lending.

To be eligible for a loan, a business must have a complete energy audit, assessment or vendor proposals with detailed project energy savings.

To learn more about the loan program, visit www.pathwaylending.org or call 615-425-7171.

– Tom Wilemon

Valero Donates $300K to 27 Nonprofits

Valero Energy Corp. Thursday donated $300,000 to 27 nonprofit organizations.

The money was distributed at Creative Life Inc., which is a long-time recipient of monetary gifts from Valero.

Creative Life is a community youth development organization with the mission of providing creative learning opportunities to youths from low- and moderate-income families in Southwest Memphis.

– Tom Wilemon

Downtown Cigar Event Raises Money for Charity

Cigar celebrity Rocky Patel will be Downtown Saturday for a fundraiser for the International Children’s Heart Foundation.

The “Patel on Beale” event will be at Prime Time Sports Bar on South Second Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bar will have two bands for entertainment, cigar giveaways, a buffet and a live auction.

The sponsor of the event, Havana Mix Cigar Emporium, will also introduce the new Beale Street Cigar. This cigar will be sold exclusively in Memphis at Havana Mix Cigar Emporium.

– Tom Wilemon

PROPERTY SALES 92 229 4,100
MORTGAGES 94 225 4,615
BUILDING PERMITS 170 538 9,806
BANKRUPTCIES 53 163 3,048