Performance Of Memphis Public Cos. Varies Widely

By Andy Meek

Memphis is home to several publicly traded companies that have made an indelible mark on industries ranging from transportation to finance and manufacturing.

Here’s a snapshot of how those companies are faring at the moment. (For a detailed look at AutoZone, see related story, "The Fast Lane.")

Buckeye Technologies Inc. (BKI)

Buckeye Technologies Inc. describes itself as a “leading supplier of unique fiber solutions to a broad array of markets and customers world-wide.” The company was started in the early 1900s as the Buckeye Cottonseed Oil Co., a cottonseed crushing division of Procter and Gamble.

Today, the company has several manufacturing sites and is approaching $1 billion in sales. Its next earnings presentation is scheduled for April 25. Analysts are forecasting a 67-cent profit per share, down slightly from 71 cents per share one year ago.


EdR (formerly Education Realty Trust Inc.) is one of the largest owners, developers and operators of collegiate housing in the country. The company has locations in 23 states and since 2000 has developed more than 33 privatized housing communities and completed more than $2.4 billion in collegiate housing transactions.

The company in February posted a net loss of 7 cents per share, or $5.8 million, for the fourth quarter, compared to a net loss of $1.8 million, or 3 cents per share, during the same period in 2010. The company releases earnings again April 26, and analysts are forecasting a 13-cent profit per share, the same amount as the 13-cent profit per share one year ago.

FedEx (FDX)

The shipping giant last month reported third quarter net earnings of $521 million, or $1.65 a share, compared with $231 million in earnings, or 73 cents a share, a year ago. That’s a whopping 126 percent increase driven by record-setting holiday package shipping and strong online holiday sales.

FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith warned analysts last month that the company doesn’t expect the global economy to grow as rapidly as once anticipated. Nevertheless, the average estimate of close to two dozen analysts covering FedEx is the company will report even higher earnings per share ($1.92) next quarter.

First Horizon (FHN)

First Horizon is the parent company of the largest bank based in both Memphis and Tennessee – First Tennessee Bank. FHN also operates a strong capital markets unit, FTN Financial, that’s based in Memphis.

FHN’s next quarterly earnings presentation is April 19. Analysts are expecting a profit of 13 cents a share for the company, down slightly from 15 cents a share last year but still a highly prized thing among large banking companies these days – a profit.

Fred’s Inc. (FRED)

Fred’s is a discount retail chain that sells general merchandise, everything from pharmacy items to housewares to snacks and garden supplies.

The company reported a 14 percent jump in fourth quarter net income last month on the strength of boosting customer traffic, the opening of 16 new stores and seven pharmacies recording a favorable tax adjustment.

For the quarter ended Jan. 28, Fred’s earned $9.8 million, or 27 cents per share, up from $8.6 million, or 22 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2010. Sales at stores open at least a year, however, were flat.

For the company’s next quarterly earnings results, analysts are forecasting a 27-cent profit per share, up from a 24-cent profit per share one year ago.

GTx Inc. (GTXO)

GTx is a biopharmaceutical company working on drugs to treat cancer and other serious conditions.

The company is still spending heavily on research and development, and in November reported a $9.3 million loss for the third quarter as the company ramped up R&D on two drugs in clinical development programs.

Ostarine and Capesaris are drugs that battle the effects of certain types of cancer or treatments for some types of cancer.

GTx CEO Dr. Mitchell Steiner said the company continues to make progress with both clinical development programs. And GTx reported $83 million on hand in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments. The $9.3 million loss compares to an $8.6 million loss in the third quarter of 2010.

Q3 revenue, however, was $2 million, up from the $1.3 million posted for the same quarter of 2010.

International Paper (IP)

International Paper is a global leader in the paper and packaging industry, with manufacturing operations around the world. Earlier this year, the company completed its acquisition of Austin, Texas-based rival Temple-Inland Inc. in a $4.5 billion deal.

IP releases its next quarterly earnings results April 27. Analysts are forecasting a profit of 51 cents a share, down from 74 cents a share one year ago.

Mueller Industries Inc. (MLI)

Mueller makes copper tube and fittings, as well as aluminum, plastic and brass fittings used in commercial and residential construction.

The company reported a drop in net income during its most recent quarterly presentation. That drop included a slump in copper prices and a fire at the company’s Wynne, Ark., manufacturing plant that forced it to shift operations to other plants.

Mueller reported net income for the third quarter of $10.5 million compared to $18.9 million for Q3 2010. Net sales of $585.8 million were up from the $507.2 million a year ago.

Pinnacle Airlines Corp. (PNCL)

It is currently a time of upheaval for Pinnacle, which on April 1 filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition after months of uncertainty, departures of key officials and an attempt to implement a cost-cutting turnaround plan for the company.

The bankruptcy filing is a continuation of that turnaround process and includes Pinnacle having received a commitment from Delta Air Lines Inc. for $74.3 million in debtor-in-possession financing.

Pinnacle will use $44.3 million of that amount to pay back a secured promissory note held by Delta. The rest of the money will be used to fund Pinnacle’s ongoing operations. The company has not yet rescheduled the annual meeting of shareholders it ordinarily would have held in mid-May but which is now postponed.

And Pinnacle’s stock was delisted from the NASDAQ stock market April 11.

Thomas & Betts Corp. (TNB)

Thomas & Betts is an electrical component maker that has a portfolio of more than 200,000 products marketed under more than 45 premium brand names. It has manufacturing facilities in 20 countries, and it employs about 9,400 people.

Jan. 1 was the start of TNB’s final year as a Memphis-based, locally owned company. At the end of January the Swiss-based ABB group of companies announced it’s acquiring TNB in a $3.9 billion deal. As part of the deal, ABB will gain access to the Thomas & Betts network of more than 6,000 distributor locations and wholesalers in North America.

Also, Thomas & Betts CEO Dominic Pileggi will head up a new global business unit.

TNB net earnings were up 32 percent in the third quarter of 2011. The company reported Q3 net earnings of $54.3 million or $1.03 per diluted share.

Verso Paper Corp. (VRS)

Verso makes coated papers used in media and marketing like magazines, ad brochures, annual reports and direct-mail pieces.

The company cited a “tepid economic recovery” as partly behind some of its recent results. Verso last month posted a net loss of $54.3 million for 2011, compared to a net loss of $126.4 million for calendar year 2010.

Verso showed a net sales increase for full-year 2011 of 7.3 percent on sales of $1.7 million compared to 2010.

Even though the Q4 numbers showed net sales up 10.4 percent from the Q4 2010, Verso permanently closed three paper machines at mills in Maine and Minnesota, which cut its annual production capacity by 193,000 tons.

Wright Medical Group Inc. (WMGI)

Wright Medical Group Inc. is an orthopedic medical device company based in Arlington.

It reported a slump in net sales in its fourth quarter results that were released in February, with net sales falling 8 percent to $126.9 million from $138.3 million during the same period in 2010. The company attributed that partly to challenges associated with beefing up its compliance processes.

The company reports earnings again May 1. Analysts are forecasting an 8-cent profit per share, down from a 19 percent profit per share one year ago.