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VOL. 123 | NO. 20 | Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Daily Digest

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Shaw Material to Move Sales Dept. to New Site

     Shaw Material Handling Systems Inc., a Bartlett-based material handling company that specializes in battery-powered forklift trucks, has bought a warehouse/office space near its Kate Bond headquarters with plans to move its sales and marketing team there.
     The company, working under the name Shaw Material Real Estate Investment LLC, bought the property for $683,000 from Whit R. Greenway, trustee of The Whit R. Greenway Revocable Trust. The purchase was financed with a $700,000 loan through Merchants and Farmers Bank.
     The 6,000-square-foot building sits on about .6 acres on the north side of Appling Center Drive east of Appling Road behind Coletta's Restaurant. The Shelby County Assessor's 2007 appraisal was $275,800.
     Shaw Material employs 140 in four locations, including the Bartlett headquarters at 3025 Kate Bond Road, and offices in Little Rock and Lowell, Ark., and Jackson, Miss. The company plans to move its 18-person sales and marketing team to the Appling Center site from the company's headquarters less than a mile away, said president Richard C. Shaw.
     Parts, service and operations staff will remain at the Kate Bond site, he said.
     The new building, which Shaw expects to occupy around March 1, will have offices as well as a sales and product demonstration area.
     

County Commission to Appoint Trustee Replacement

     The Shelby County Board of Commissioners will appoint someone Feb. 11 to fill the office of Shelby County Trustee. The office has been vacant since the Jan. 19 death of Bob Patterson.
     Commissioners are accepting applications for the appointment and all who apply will undergo a criminal background check. Whoever gets the appointment will serve until the winner of a special election takes office.
     The trustee's race will be added to the Aug. 7 general election ballot, said Tennessee Elections Coordinator Brook Thompson. There won't be time under state law to hold primary elections in advance of the August election, Thompson wrote in a letter last week to Shelby County Election Commission officials.
     In those cases, the executive committees of each local party usually select the nominees. The winner of the special election will serve the two years remaining on Patterson's term of office.
     

Valero Explores Sale of Memphis Refinery

     Valero Energy Corp., the San Antonio, Texas-based oil refiner that owns a Memphis refinery, reported fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday that were about half of that earned during the same quarter of 2006.
     With the figures, the largest oil refiner in North America also announced it has hired an investment bank to explore the idea of selling the Memphis refinery as well as another in Krotz Springs, La. A company statement said the investment bank would look at "strategic alternatives" for the two refineries. Such alternatives generally involve a partial or full sale of a property.
     Valero executives announced in November they were considering the sale of a refinery in Aruba as well.
     Valero bought the Memphis refinery on McKellar Lake in 2005 and has spent more than $245 million upgrading the plant. It makes light products including diesel and jet fuel as well as regular and premium gasoline. The refinery has had several owners since it was built in 1941.
     The Q4 earnings of $567 million announced by Valero this week amount to $1.04 per share, compared to $1.11 billion or $1.85 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2006.
     The earnings are a reaction to higher crude prices, the firm said. Higher expenses for maintenance and energy costs were also a factor.
     The numbers were better than analysts had expected. Those surveyed by Thomson Financial expected the company to earn only 64 cents a share.
     For the year, Valero earned $5.23 billion in 2007, compared to $5.46 billion in the previous year.
     For the coming year, Valero officials said they expect gasoline markets to return to more seasonal patterns, with margins improving during the summer driving season. Diesel margins were expected to be strong because inventories are lower than last year and demand remains strong, officials said Tuesday.
     Other products, such as asphalt and fuel oil, still are suffering lower margins, however, and that is expected to affect overall margins, the company said.
     Including Memphis, Valero operates 16 refineries and 5,800 retail outlets in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
     

NWA Posts Narrower Q4 Loss

     Northwest Airlines Corp. posted a narrower fourth-quarter loss Tuesday, beating Wall Street's forecasts despite higher fuel costs.
     For the three months through December, the carrier reported a loss of $8 million, or 3 cents per share. During the same period last year, Northwest had a loss of $267 million, or $3.06 per share, because of hefty bankruptcy expenses.
     The most recent figure includes a $14 million pretax loss related to Northwest's stake in Pinnacle Airlines. Excluding that item, Northwest said it broke even.
     Analysts had been expecting a loss of 8 cents per share, according to a survey by Thomson Financial. Those forecasts typically exclude one-time items.
     Northwest said revenue increased to $3.10 billion, from $2.98 billion previously. Analysts predicted revenue of $3.03 billion, on average.
     Northwest made more money per passenger on fuller planes, even as it reduced capacity by 1.5 percent. Its revenue per available seat mile - the amount it collected from each passenger it flew one mile - rose 4.8 percent to 11.32 cents.
     And while recession fears have hurt the outlook for airlines, Northwest Executive Vice President for Marketing and Distribution Tim Griffin said in a statement that "we have seen no evidence of slowing demand."
     Operating costs rose $123 million, or 4.3 percent; without fuel costs, those expenses would have fallen by $6 million, Northwest said.
     Northwest emerged from bankruptcy protection May 31. The carrier, the nation's fifth-largest by revenue, did not comment on speculation of a combination with Delta Air Lines Inc. Speaking on a conference call, Chief Executive Doug Steenland said Northwest would not offer any new updates Tuesday.
     Northwest is an early customer of the new Boeing 787, which has been set back by delays. Steenland said Northwest still expects to have the 787 in service by mid-2009.
     For the full year, not counting reorganization items, Northwest said it earned $764 million in 2007, up from $301 million in 2006. Including bankruptcy items it earned $2.09 billion, up from a loss of $2.84 billion in 2006.
     

Medtronic Monitoring System Approved by FDA

     Medical device maker Medtronic Inc. said Tuesday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its new glucose monitoring system for diabetics.
     The system, called CGMS iPRO, is worn by a diabetes patient for three days, after which physicians can review the data. The device is attached to a small sensor just under the skin. Medtronic said the system is Medicare reimbursable, with broad private insurance coverage.
     Medtronic's Spinal and Biologics business is based in Memphis.
     

Clinton Campaign Launches Response Team

     The presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton is launching a rapid response team made up of several Tennesseans. It's an effort to push back against what the campaign sees as inaccuracies or distortions of the former first lady's record during the all-important primary contests held Tuesday.
     The campaign is setting up what it's calling "Rapid Responder" groups in all 22 states that vote on that day, dubbed "Super Tuesday." The responders working for Clinton's Democratic primary campaign in Tennessee include former state Democratic Party Chairman Randy Button and former U.S. Rep. Bob Clement, D-Tenn.
     

Rhodes Receives Grant For Environmental Studies

     Rhodes College has received a $500,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen its environmental studies initiatives.
     The money will be provided over a period of three years, and the grant also will fund three postdoctoral positions to help Rhodes expand its environmental science program into environmental studies.
     Dr. David Kessler, professor of biology at Rhodes, will direct the program. Recruitment of the postdoctoral fellows will begin immediately. The fellows will design and incorporate courses on environmental policy according to their own teaching and research interests and specialties.
     The three-year grant period also will enable faculty to develop a plan for permanent expansion of the program, including offering a minor in environmental studies.
     The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation currently gives grants in six core program areas: Higher education and scholarship, scholarly communications, research in information technology, museums and art conservation, performing arts and conservation, and the environment.
     

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 68 321 13,763
MORTGAGES 79 340 15,906
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 24 2,163
BUILDING PERMITS 265 765 28,522
BANKRUPTCIES 49 227 8,877
BUSINESS LICENSES 28 113 4,678
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 25 118 5,511
MARRIAGE LICENSES 16 73 2,967

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