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VOL. 124 | NO. 55 | Friday, March 20, 2009

Daily Digest

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Kroger Buys Land Next to Bartlett Store

Kroger LP I on March 12 bought the vacant land next to its Bartlett store at 7615 Summer Ave. near Appling Road for $1 million. The seller was PPM X LP, who bought the property in 2005 for $400,000 from Brenda F. Hopkins Living Trust.

No mortgage was associated with the sale.

A representative at Kroger’s office at 800 Ridge Lake Blvd. in Memphis confirmed the company did “close on some land next to our store” near Appling Road. He said the company did not have a time frame or any plans for the land yet, but he said “it just made sense to go ahead and acquire that.”

The Kroger store sits on a 5.35-acre site on the southeast side of U.S. 70, or Summer Avenue. The Shelby County Assessor’s 2008 appraisal of the property and building was $6.4 million.

The vacant land is listed in the sale deed as being part of two parcels. One is a 9-acre parcel on the southeast side of U.S. 70 north of Appling Road. The other is a 5.6-acre parcel, also on the southeast side of 70.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

CDC Releases Data On Area Births

The number of births to unmarried women and those younger than 20 continues to rise in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, according to statistics released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of the babies born in Mississippi during 2007 were to unmarried women, accounting for 53.7 percent of births compared to 52.8 percent of births for the prior year. In Tennessee, 42.8 percent of births were to unmarried women compared to 41.4 percent the year before. In Arkansas, 43.4 percent of births were to unmarried women compared to 41.8 percent for the prior year.

Nationwide, the birth rate for teens between 15 and 19 increased about 1 percent in 2007. Mississippi had the biggest increase of the three states surrounding Memphis with 17.1 percent of live births, up from 16.5 percent. Tennessee had a slight increase with 13.2 percent of births compared to 13 percent from the prior year. Births to teens in this age group decreased in Arkansas. There, 14.6 percent of births were to teens ages 15 to 19 compared to 14.8 percent from the prior year.

All three states made slight progress in the percentage of low-birth-weight babies. Arkansas had the lowest percentage of low-birth-weight babies with 9.1 percent, down from 9.2 percent the prior year.

In Tennessee, 9.4 percent of babies had low birth weights, compared to 9.6 percent for the prior year. In Mississippi, 12.3 percent of babies had low birth rates compared to 12.4 percent for the prior year.

Leading Indicators Drop Less Than Expected in Feb.

A private sector group’s index of leading economic indicators dropped less than expected in February, but its broad decline of the past 19 months persisted and is unlikely to end nationwide until next year.

The New York-based Conference Board’s monthly forecast of U.S. economic activity fell 0.4 percent last month. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 0.6 percent decline.

Still, the Conference Board on Thursday also lowered estimates for the previous two months, saying leading indicators rose just 0.1 percent in January and slipped 0.1 percent in December. The earlier estimates were for gains of 0.4 percent in January and 0.2 percent in December.

The index is designed to forecast economic activity in the next three to six months, based on 10 components that include stock prices, money supply, jobless claims and building permits.

“The economy has still not hit bottom,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial. The index is designed to give a “sneak peek” at the next several months, and “right now the leaders are saying there’s still no light seen at the end of the tunnel.”

In the six-month span through February, leading national indicators fell 2.1 percent. That’s faster than the drop of 1.6 percent in the six months through January.

However, the Conference Board said while indicators that make up its index have been trending lower since July 2007, the pace of decline has moderated in recent months.

“Financial market volatility remains strong, and the credit market freeze is relenting very slowly,” Ken Goldstein, economist at Conference Board, said in a statement. “A return to strong growth will not likely occur until 2010.”

Citigroup May Execute Reverse Stock Split

Citigroup Inc. reported Thursday it plans to increase the number of its common shares outstanding and may execute a reverse stock split as part of its effort to convert preferred shares to common shares.

And, as announced late last month, Citi is seeking to exchange about $27.5 billion in public and private preferred securities as part of its agreement with the U.S. Treasury Department, which has pledged to match up to $25 billion of the conversions.

The deal represents the government’s third attempt in five months to prevent the beleaguered banking giant’s collapse.

Citigroup said all private holders of convertible preferred securities, with a total liquidation value of $12.5 billion, have agreed to the swap. The bank will also offer holders of non-convertible preferred and trust-preferred securities to exchange their shares. The conversion price is $3.25 per share. Citigroup said it plans to launch the exchange in early April.

The number of the bank’s common shares will increase significantly following the exchange offer and subsequently boost the bank’s capital cushion.

Citi also said it will be filing a proxy to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to authorize the board of directors to execute a reverse stock split of its common stock.

A reverse stock split reduces the number of a company’s shares outstanding, but increases the value of its earnings per share. The market value of the shares remains the same. Companies often elect to do a reverse stock split in an effort to make their stock look more valuable if the share price is significantly low. Citigroup’s shares dropped below $1 a share earlier this month on the fear that the government’s efforts wouldn’t be enough to save it from failing.

Citi’s stock price dropped 77 percent in 2008, and has fallen another 54 percent so far this year. However, its shares have tripled in the past two weeks after the bank said it turned a profit in January and February.

Medco CEO Calls for IT Reform

David B. Snow Jr., the chairman and chief executive officer of Medco Health Solutions Inc., in a speech this week said real health care reform will be difficult, if not impossible, with the transparency of a wired system.

He called for implementation of information technology that will allow providers to be measured based on their contribution to lowering costs and improving quality. He made the comments in they keynote address Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute.

Medco, which is the parent company of Accredo in Memphis, provides pharmacy services to more than 60 million people by contracting with employers, health plans, labor unions, government agencies and Medicare.

Bodine Gets Ready For Big Fundraiser

The Bodine School will host its annual Acorn Auction fundraiser, the school’s largest fundraiser, March 28 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave.

Proceeds from the auction will allow the school to continue providing educational programs for children with dyslexia in first through eighth grades.

This year’s Acorn Auction will have a carnival theme and feature carnival games, dinner, live and silent auctions, entertainment and dancing. Auction items include home décor, vacation packages, jewelry, gift cards, toys and family activities.

Debbie Litch, executive producer at Theatre Memphis, will serve as the 2009 Acorn Auction honorary chair.

Tickets are $35 for individuals or $400 for tables of 10 and can be purchased by calling The Bodine School at 754-1800.

Reservations must be made today.

PROPERTY SALES 0 120 21,080
MORTGAGES 0 130 24,262
BANKRUPTCIES 0 44 13,512