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VOL. 128 | NO. 238 | Friday, December 6, 2013

Daily Digest

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Methodist Pays $22.5 Million for Germantown Facility

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has bought the Germantown Multispecialty Center at 7945 Wolf River Blvd. for $22.5 million from UT Medical Group Inc.

Operating in the transaction as Methodist Healthcare – Memphis Hospitals, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare bought the 116,865-square-foot, Class A medical office building in a Dec. 2 warranty deed.

UT Medical Group chief financial officer Brenda H. Jeter signed the warranty deed. The organization received the property in a 1997 transfer for $3.3 million.

Built in 1999, the building sits on 9.6 acres along the south side of Wolf River Boulevard east of its intersection with South Germantown Road. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2013 appraisal is $13.6 million.

UT Medical Group, UT Cancer Institute and the Methodist Breast Center – Germantown are housed in the facility.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

MAAR Commercial Council Wins National Award

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council has been honored with a 2013 ACE Award for Accredited Commercial Excellence.

The National Association of Realtors says ACE winners “have demonstrated that they have gone beyond their accreditation benchmarks to be leaders in engaging their members and the high quality of the services provided.”

– Amos Maki

FedEx Honored for Civic Engagement

FedEx Corp. is one of the companies honored on this year’s Civic 50 survey, now in its second year, the results of which were published by Bloomberg Thursday, Dec. 5.

The survey was developed by the National Conference on Citizenship, Points of Light and Bloomberg for the purpose of measuring corporate civic engagement. Its goal also is to recognize top S&P companies that make socially responsible practices and community leadership part of their corporate culture.

Other companies on this year’s list include Gap Inc., Southwest Airlines and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

– Andy Meek

Bunker Sets Exit Date from Commission

Lakeland Mayor Wyatt Bunker has formally set Jan. 3 as the date he will resign from the Shelby County Commission.

Bunker was elected mayor of Lakeland in September, giving him 90 days to resign from the commission under terms of the Shelby County Charter, which prohibits him from holding both elected positions.

The letter from Bunker means the commission will be appointing someone to fill his seat for the remainder of his term of office, which runs to Sept. 1, 2014. That’s when those elected in the 2014 August county general elections take office for full, four-year terms on the commission.

– Bill Dries

Iberiabank Promotes 2 Memphis Associates

Iberiabank has promoted two associates in Memphis.

Stephen Fitzsimmons is the new branch manager at Iberiabank’s Germantown branch, 7465 Poplar Ave. He has seven years of banking experience, and is a licensed attorney and an active member of the Memphis Bar Association.

Meanwhile, Kirstin Wicker will assume the role of assistant branch manager at Iberiabank’s Memphis headquarters, 4894 Poplar Ave. She has eight years of experience and will also act as the key operations liaison for retail support and training new associates.

– Andy Meek

Dollar General Sees Quarterly Profit Rise

Dollar General’s fiscal third-quarter net income climbed 14 percent as traffic improved and shoppers spent more per transaction on average.

Its earnings topped Wall Street’s expectations. The discounter also lifted the low end of its full-year adjusted earnings forecast and boosted its stock repurchase authorization by $1 billion.

Sales at stores open at least a year climbed 4.4 percent. This figure is a key indicator of a retailer’s health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

Dollar General reported strong sales of tobacco products, perishables, candy and snacks in the quarter. Seasonal and home product sales were solid, it added.

The company’s board approved an additional $1 billion for stock buybacks on Wednesday. This raises the total authorization for future buybacks to $1.2 billion.

For the period ended Nov. 1, Dollar General Corp. earned $237.4 million, or 74 cents per share. A year earlier it earned $207.7 million, or 62 cents per share. Taking out a benefit from the reversal of income tax reserves, earnings were 72 cents per share.

Revenue increased 11 percent to $4.38 billion from $3.96 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 70 cents per share on revenue of $4.42 billion, according to a FactSet poll.

Dollar General now foresees full-year adjusted earnings between $3.18 and $3.22 per share.

– The Associated Press

Average Mortgage Rate Rises to 4.46 Percent

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose sharply this week, making home-buying slightly less affordable.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year loan jumped to 4.46 percent from 4.29 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan increased to 3.47 percent from 3.30 percent.

Rates have risen a full percentage point since May after the Federal Reserve signaled it might slow its bond purchases by year’s end. Rates peaked at 4.6 percent in August.

Mortgage rates have stabilized since September, when the Fed surprised markets by taking no action. And rates remain low by historical standards. The Fed meets later this month and could slow the bond purchases if the economy shows further improvement.

The bond purchases are designed to keep long-term rates low.

The increase in mortgage rates has contributed to a slowdown in home sales over the past two months. But the government reported Wednesday that purchases of new homes ramped up in October after three months of soft sales, evidence that the housing market is improving fitfully.

Sales of new homes increased 25.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 444,000 in October, the largest monthly percentage increase since May 1980.

And in another sign of potential economic strength, the Commerce Department said Thursday the economy grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest since early 2012. But nearly half the growth came from a buildup in business stockpiles, a trend that could reverse in the current quarter and hold back growth.

– The Associated Press

Jobless Claims Plunge as Layoffs Slow

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits tumbled 23,000 last week to 298,000, nearly a six-year low that shows companies are laying off fewer workers.

The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average declined 10,750 to 322,250.

Last week’s unemployment benefit applications nearly matched a September figure that was distorted by late reporting from California. When excluding the September report, last week’s figures were the lowest since May 2007.

Applications have now fallen in seven of the past eight weeks, a hopeful sign for job growth at the end of the year.

Last week included the Thanksgiving holiday, which can present challenges for seasonal adjustments. But government officials say there were no special factors affecting the report.

The economy has added an average of 202,000 jobs a month from August through October, up from an average of 146,000 in May through July. The government issues its November employment report on Friday.

A report Wednesday from payroll processor ADP suggested the hiring gains continued last month. Companies and small businesses added 215,000 jobs in November, ADP said.

Greater employment typically boosts income, which helps drive more economic growth. Consumers’ spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of economic activity.

Still, the unemployment rate remains high at 7.3 percent. That’s well above the 5 percent to 6 percent unemployment rate consistent with healthier job markets. When unemployment is lower, workers have more flexibility to change jobs.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 105 193 8,028
MORTGAGES 120 239 9,024
BUILDING PERMITS 192 445 17,512
BANKRUPTCIES 27 69 5,228