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VOL. 123 | NO. 69 | Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daily Digest

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PMC Biogenix Inc. Buys Lots From Chemtura

     PMC Biogenix Inc. has bought various lots in the Trendex Industrial Subdivision from Chemtura Corp. for $3.3 million. PMC took out a loan in conjunction with the sale for $3.3 million from CitiGroup Business Credit Inc.
     PMC Biogenix Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of PMC Group, which was created by the acquisition of Chemtura's oleochemicals division. PMC Group Inc. completed the purchase of Chemtura's oleochemicals business - including its Memphis manufacturing facility at 1231 Pope St. - in March, and operates under the name PMC Biogenix Inc.
     Chemtura sold its oleochemicals division to PMC for an undisclosed amount, according to a company statement. The Chemtura oleochemicals business had revenues of approximately $175 million in 2007.
     The 260 employees at what was Chemtura's Memphis facility have transferred to PMC Group Inc. The oleochemicals facility produces fatty acids, fatty esters, glycerin approved for pharmaceutical applications, glycerol esters and other products.
     PMC is seeking a 12-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement on personal property from the city-county Industrial Development Board. The PILOT would save the company $2.27 million.
     Attempts to reach PMC Group by press time were unsuccessful.

Morgan Keegan Analyst Drops Thomas & Betts Forecast

     A variety of economic factors have led a Morgan Keegan & Co. analyst to lower his profit forecast for Memphis-based electrical components maker Thomas & Betts Corp.
     Analyst Brent Rakers said in a note to investors Monday that lower durable goods orders, reduced billing in the company's architectural segment and lower business confidence were causing him to cut his earnings outlook for the company.
     Rakers lowered his per-share earnings forecast to $3.98 from $4 for the current fiscal year. He also cut his forecast for 2009 to $4.62 from $4.64 per share.
     However, Rakers kept his "Outperform" rating for Thomas & Betts, and his outlook remained at the higher end of Wall Street expectations and above the company's forecast.
     Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expect Thomas & Betts to earn, on average, $3.88 per share in 2008 and $4.43 per share in 2009. The company said in February it expects to earn between $3.80 and $3.95 per share for 2008.
     Rakers' earnings outlook for the first quarter also was bullish, largely because of higher revenue expectations, he said.
     In 2007, he said the company had modest sales growth domestically but posted robust growth in foreign markets. Sales were up 35 percent internationally in 2007, he said.
     "Thomas & Betts' current management team has a history of conservatism when it comes to earnings guidance, and this particularly stands out going into the company's first-quarter results," Rakers wrote.
     He expects Thomas & Betts to earn 84 cents per share, compared to the average prediction of 77 cents per share among analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

LeMoyne-Owen Committee Partners With Chicago Group

     The presidential search committee at LeMoyne-Owen College has contracted with Chicago-based The Hollins Group Inc. to conduct a nationwide search for the school's next president.
     Former Memphis City Schools Superintendent Johnnie B. Watson has served as interim president since August 2006. The presidential search committee is seeking candidates to permanently fill the post.
     The Hollins Group will begin its search activities immediately, and the presidential search committee hopes to begin screening candidates for the 11th president of LeMoyne-Owen College by early summer.

Groundbreaking to be Held For Colonial Middle School

     A groundbreaking will be held today for the new Colonial Middle School that's expected to be open for the 2009-2010 school year.
     The new performing arts middle school is being built adjacent to the current Colonial Middle School at 4778 Sea Isle Road.
     The project is expected to cost $24 million.
     Representatives from the architectural firm Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc. will be at the groundbreaking to discuss the design of the new facility.
     No contractor has been chosen for the project, though general contractor bidding has begun. Construction is expected to be completed by July 2009.
     The new Colonial Middle is part of a $74 million capital improvement project approved by the school board in January.
     When the new school opens next year, it is expected to have the capacity to serve up to 1,200 students.

Report Finds Weaknesses In IRS Computer System

     A week before the tax filing deadline, Treasury Department watchdogs are saying that inadequate controls over the Internal Revenue Service computer system could make confidential taxpayer information more vulnerable to hacking and theft.
     The office of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration is warning that the lack of monitoring could allow a disgruntled employee or a hacker to disrupt computer operations and steal taxpayer data.
     The IRS, in response to the report, agreed that it needs to improve oversight of who has access to its computers.

Green Building Workshop To be Held Thursday

     Three groups are partnering this week to present a free training workshop on green building for cost-effective, affordable housing developments.
     Seedco Financial, the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis and Southface Energy Institute will hold the workshop Thursday at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis at 1900 Union Ave. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
     Everyone who attends the program will be able to gain a special certification and developers and contractors who do so are then eligible to apply for grants from Seedco Financial.

Democrats Push for More Help for Economy

     Democratic lawmakers said Sunday that Congress should pass a second economic aid plan that would focus on helping homeowners avoid foreclosure and increasing spending on bridges, roads and transit systems.
     "Our economy will never grow in the 21st century unless we expand and repair the deteriorating infrastructure needs of our country," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
     Dodd, D-Conn., also said Congress needs to help homeowners in distress. He has called for lenders to offer new, more affordable mortgages in exchange for greater financial backing by the Federal House Administration, which pays a claim to the lender in the event of a homeowner's default.
     "The heart of this economic problem is the foreclosure problem," Dodd said.
     Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, did not rule out a second aid plan, but is worried about the potential costs.
     It is too early to gauge the economic impact of the $168 billion measure passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in January. Rebate checks of up to $1,200 per couple and even more for families with dependent children will start arriving in mailboxes in May.
     Bush has argued against additional relief plans at this time.
     "Everything I hear coming from my friends on the other side of the aisle is, 'Let's have the federal government spend more money,'" Cornyn said. "And that money comes from your pocket and mine. And I think we ought to be careful."
PROPERTY SALES 98 172 17,556
MORTGAGES 101 194 20,229
BUILDING PERMITS 223 349 36,295
BANKRUPTCIES 52 115 11,279