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VOL. 124 | NO. 151 | Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Daily Digest

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Four Homes, Three Lots Sold Back to Bank

Trust One Bank has bought back four homes and three lots formerly owned by Skip Hobbs Construction LLC following foreclosures of the properties. In successor trustee’s deeds, the bank paid slightly less than $2 million for the homes, all of which are in Germantown, and $93,000 for the three lots, all of which are in Lakeland.

Skip Hobbs Construction LLC had defaulted on a $2.7 million loan through Trust One Bank and dated Sept. 18, 2007. The trust deed was for the homes at 2214, 2223, 2235 and 2236 Beau Ridge Cove in Germantown. The homes have a combined appraised value of $1.7 million.

The company also defaulted on a $716,800 construction loan through Trust One Bank and dated May 31, 2007. The trust deed was for lots 64, 65 and 83 of phases two and three of the Evergreen Hills Planned Development in Lakeland.

Jordan E. Reifler of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP was appointed June 19 as successor trustee in both transactions.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Analyst Cuts Rating On Regions Financial

An analyst downgraded Regions Financial Corp. Monday amid ongoing concerns about potential loan losses and based on the bank’s current stock price.

Goldman Sachs analyst Brian Foran cut his rating on the Birmingham, Ala.-based bank to “Neutral” from “Buy.” He wrote in a research note that since he upgraded the stock in June, its share price has risen, but credit quality has worsened.

While Foran said the second quarter might be the peak for non-performing assets at Regions Financial, “improvement may come in the shape of an L rather than a V,” meaning credit quality is unlikely to significantly improve until 2010.

During the second half of 2009, Regions Financial will continue to face easing land, homebuilder and Florida home equity loan problems, Foran said. At the same time, it will face the start of problems in the commercial real estate sector, he added.

Foran said the increase of non-performing assets increased much more than expected during the second quarter and rose from already elevated levels the previous two quarters.

Foran maintained a $4.50 price target.

Last month, Regions said it lost $244 million, or 28 cents per share, in the second quarter after paying preferred dividends.

The losses came as the bank nearly tripled its provision for loan losses.

Construction Spending Rises Unexpectedly

Construction spending rose for the second time in three months in June as residential building increased and government-funded infrastructure projects jumped.

The report provides fresh evidence the housing sector may be recovering, while the rise in government spending was partly due to the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package, economists said.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Monday construction spending increased by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.3 percent in June, defying analysts’ estimates of a 0.5 percent drop. May construction spending was revised up slightly to a 0.8 percent decline. Still, June’s $965.7 billion in spending was 10.2 percent below the year-ago level.

The data follow earlier reports that new and existing home sales rose in June, and new home construction also increased. Buyers were taking advantage of bargain prices, low interest rates and a federal tax credit for first-time homeowners. Some homebuilders’ stocks have risen recently, but falling home prices are expected to limit their earnings.

Public construction also helped drive the increase, jumping 1 percent to $321.7 billion for the biggest rise since March, the department said.

Federal government construction spending increased 1.9 percent, the most since December 2008, after falling 0.3 percent in May and plummeting 6.1 percent in April.

State and local construction rose 1 percent as spending on education and highway construction also grew.

US Manufacturing Contraction Slowest Since August

U.S. manufacturing activity should grow next month for the first time since January 2008 as industrial companies work to restock customers’ bare shelves, a trade group said Monday.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said its index measuring U.S. manufacturing activity in July showed the slowest pace of decline since last August. The 48.9 reading was up from 44.8 in June. Production and new orders jumped to their highest level in two years, while new export orders grew after shrinking for nine months.

“If we stay on trend ... we would expect to be above 50 next month,” said Norbert Ore, chair of ISM’s manufacturing survey committee. A reading above that threshold would indicate growth in manufacturing, something that hasn’t happened in 18 months.

The pace of decline in manufacturing has been slowing since the index hit a 28-year low of 32.9 in December. And it was the third straight monthly reading above 41.2, which tends to indicate expansion in the overall economy, if sustained at such levels, according to the ISM.

“This adds to the growing evidence that the recession ended around the middle of the year,” Capital Economics U.S. economist Paul Ashworth wrote in a research note.

Three Memphis Firms Honored In 2010 Best Lawyers

Three Memphis law firms have attorneys who have been honored in the 2010 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC had four attorneys from its Memphis office honored: Donna K. Fisher, Thomas L. Henderson, Charles V. Holmes and Frederick J. Lewis were named to the list as top lawyers in labor and employment law. All four previously have been recognized by Best Lawyers.

Adams & Reese LLP had seven attorneys in its Memphis offices recognized. Cannon F. Allen was honored for his work in mass tort litigation; Donna L. Boyce, medical malpractice law; Brian S. Faughnan, appellate law; James B. McLaren Jr., banking, project finance and public finance law; Lucian T. Pera, commercial litigation, ethics and professional responsibility law, First Amendment law, health care and legal malpractice law; Henry C. Shelton III, bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights law; and Joseph B. Walker, trusts and estates.

Also, Memphis-based firm Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC had 17 lawyers firmwide selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers: Allen S. Blair, G. Rice Byars Jr., Susan Callison, M. Anderson Cobb Jr., Steven N. Douglass, William W. Dunlap Jr., Allison T. Gilbert, A. Neal Graham, James B. Jalenak, Philip G. Kaminsky, James L. Kirby, Edward J. McKenney Jr., John L. Ryder, J. Max Shelton, John Kevin Walsh, George T. Wheeler Jr. and James D. Wilson.

The Best Lawyers in America is an annual peer review survey in which more than 24,000 attorneys cast their votes for their colleagues based on their legal abilities and achievements in their respective specialties.

Health Department to Hold Back-to-School Health Fair

The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department will host a back-to-school information and health fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Grizzlies Athletic Center, 2107 Ball Road.

The Health Department’s TENNderCARE program will provide free checkups and health care services for children who are covered under TennCare.

Dr. Kenneth S. Robinson, Shelby County health officer, and WKNO-TV Channel 10 television personality Mr. Chuck will deliver motivational speeches to the children. McGruff the Crime Dog also will make an appearance.

Giveaways, entertainment, refreshments and educational information also will be available. For more information about the fair, call the Health Department at 528-0044.

Bearden Receives Telly For Adams Ave. Documentary

Local filmmaker Willy Bearden has won a Silver Telly Award for “The View from Adams Avenue: 19th Century Memphis,” the film he wrote and produced that premiered on WKNO Channel 10 in August 2008.

The Telly Awards recognize outstanding local, regional and cable television commercials and programs, including video and film productions.

Bearden’s other film work includes documentaries such as “Overton Park, A Century of Change,” “The Story of Cotton” and “Elmwood – Reflections of Memphis.”

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751