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VOL. 123 | NO. 184 | Friday, September 19, 2008

Daily Digest

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Lightman Buys Piece Of Polo Grounds for $2M

Michael A. Lightman Sr. has acquired three more acres in the Polo Grounds North Planned Development, where his company, Michael Lightman Realty Co., is building the Centennial Commons retail center. Lightman bought the acreage for $2 million in a special warranty deed from Winsouth Hotel Partnership. The sale closed Sept. 12.

The site is north of Winchester Road, east of Germantown Road, near Tenn. 385. The retail center includes JCPenney, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and Dollar Tree Stores Inc.

Construction is well under way with completion of JCPenney slated for fall, Lightman’s son, Michael Lightman Jr., told The Daily News in the spring. The company is targeting additional retail shops for the remaining space, looking for holes in the busy 385/Winchester/Hacks Cross area.

“We’re trying to meet all needs,” Lightman Jr. said in April. “It’s going to be very nice.”

Centennial Commons is part of the 300-acre Centennial Park project, which Michael Lightman Realty Co. has been developing for a decade. Centennial Park includes retail stores, medical offices, restaurants, a hotel and apartments.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports


FedEx Fiscal Q1 Profit Falls, Meets Views

FedEx Corp. reported Thursday its fiscal first-quarter earnings fell 22 percent, but still met Wall Street’s expectations, as cost cuts partially offset the impact of slowing global growth.

The package delivery company also predicted it will beat analysts’ current expectations for its fiscal second quarter, and said it will hike shipping rates at its Express unit starting early next year.

Memphis-based FedEx earned $384 million, or $1.23 per share, in the three months ended Aug. 31, compared to $494 million, or $1.58 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 8 percent to $9.97 billion from $9.20 billion a year ago.

A Thomson Reuters poll showed analysts, on average, were expecting profit of $1.23 per share on revenue of $9.92 billion.

“Global economic conditions are challenging, but FedEx is taking strong, proactive actions to manage through this difficult cycle,” said Frederick W. Smith, FedEx chairman, president and chief executive.

FedEx reported that cost-cutting efforts were countered by global economic weakness and still-high fuel prices. The company also said its higher fuel surcharges are dampening demand. Although the price of jet fuel slipped toward the end of the quarter, FedEx still paid an average of 77 percent more year-over-year.

Growth in its ground and international-domestic express units and from a postal service deal was “substantially offset by a continued decline in U.S. domestic express shipments,” FedEx reported.

For the second quarter, FedEx expects to earn $1.40 to $1.60 per share, well above Wall Street’s average forecast of $1.35 per share for the period. The company earned $1.54 in the year-ago second quarter.

For the full year, the company maintained its profit forecast of $4.75 to $5.25 per share, citing slowing global growth. Analysts, on average, currently expect $5.18 per share. FedEx reported the predictions incorporate current fuel prices.

FedEx’s Express unit will raise rates by an average of 6.9 percent for U.S. and U.S. export services, beginning on Jan. 5. The company reported the rate hike will be partially offset by a slightly lower fuel surcharge.



Jobless Claims Rise Because of Hurricane Gustav

New applications for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly last week from the impact of Hurricane Gustav, the government reported Thursday.

The Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 455,000, up 10,000 from the prior week. Analysts had expected claims to fall slightly to 440,000.

A Labor Department analyst said last week’s number is the first to include claims stemming from job losses caused by Hurricane Gustav, which slammed into the Louisiana coast over the Labor Day weekend. Louisiana was unable to report actual claims until last week, the analyst said.

The department wouldn’t give a precise estimate of the impact of the hurricane, but said claims would have fallen without it.

The four-week average of new claims, which smoothes out fluctuations, rose by 5,000 to 445,000.

The number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped 55,000 to 3.48 million. The four-week average increased to 3.46 million, the highest in almost five years.

The figures reflect ongoing weakness in the job market. Economists consider initial claims above 400,000 a sign of a struggling economy. A year ago, the figure stood at about 320,000.

Thursday’s figures were compiled before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy Monday and before Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. agreed to be acquired by Bank of America Corp.

Those moves could put thousands of jobs at risk. Lehman has about 25,000 employees worldwide and Merrill Lynch has 60,000.

The Labor Department reported earlier this month that the unemployment rate jumped to 6.1 percent in August, the highest level in five years.

Employers cut payrolls by 84,000 in August, the eighth straight month of cuts, the department reported. So far, 605,000 jobs have been eliminated this year, and some economists estimate that figure could grow to 1 million by year-end.



Town Hall Meeting To Discuss Charter Changes

A town hall discussion has been planned for next week at the Orange Mound Community Services Center gymnasium to educate voters on changes to the city and county charters that will show up on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Members of the Memphis Charter Commission as well as representatives of Change Memphis – a coalition of The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, New Path Memphis and Concerned Memphians United – will be on hand to discuss the changes. Members of the Memphis City Council and Memphis City Schools Board of Education also are expected to attend.

The town hall discussion will take place Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 2572 Park Ave.



Tenn. to Get $1.3M For Energy Assistance

Tennessee will get $1.3 million in emergency energy assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said this week the funds are to help pay heating bills during the coming winter.

The money is designed to assist eligible low-income households in meeting their heating or insulation needs.

A total of $121 million nationally is being released for energy assistance.

The funds are from the federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).



U of M Forum to Discuss Sustainable Tennessee

The Ecological Research Center at the University of Memphis will host a “Regional Forum for a Sustainable Tennessee” today and Saturday at the Fogelman Executive Center on campus.

Today’s schedule will feature a seminar directed by Doug Farr, president and founder of Farr Associates Architecture and Urban Design.

Saturday’s sessions will include a keynote address by Bob Ford of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Saturday’s sessions also will include discussions of sustainability plans from various regional perspectives.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Registration is $175 for both days, $120 for today only and $75 for Saturday only.

For more information, visit www.sustainablewesttn.org or e-mail sustainable@gmail.com.



Baptist Hospital Named To Top 100 List

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis recently was named one of the 100 Top Hospitals: Performance Improvement Leaders by Thomson Reuters.

The study, “Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals: Performance Improvement Leaders, 5th Edition,” examined the performance of more than 2,800 U.S. hospitals on a variety of clinical, financial, operational and patient safety criteria. Hospitals that made the list enhanced their survival rates, patient safety efforts, national treatment standards, efficiency and financial stability during the last five years. Baptist Memphis was the only area hospital to make the list.



Gore to Host Fundraiser For Senate Candidate Tuke

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bob Tuke will be counting on a major financial boost when former Vice President Al Gore hosts a fundraiser for him just days before early voting starts next month.

Tuke, a Nashville attorney and former Tennessee Democratic Party chairman, has faced a steep disadvantage in campaign funding and name recognition compared with his opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.

Tuke won the six-way Democratic primary last month with 32 percent of the vote.

The Oct. 10 fundraiser at Gore’s home in the upscale Belle Meade suburb of Nashville will cost $1,000 to attend. A special reception for those who give $2,300 will be held before the event, and political groups dropping at least $5,000 will be named host committees.



RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 16 53 275
BUILDING PERMITS 0 569 5,701
BANKRUPTCIES 0 87 993
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 110 491
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0