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VOL. 128 | NO. 62 | Friday, March 29, 2013

Daily Digest

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Baptist Group Buys Former Post Office

Baptist Memorial Medical Group Inc. has paid $1.3 million for the former U.S. Postal Service location at 1520 Union Ave. in Midtown.

The group, an affiliate of Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., bought the 11,470-square-foot facility March 20 from a host of sellers.

They are listed as Barbara Y. Newell, Ann Morse Woodliff, Frances Peake Morse, Joseph Clinton Droke Jr., James Clyde Droke, John William Droke, Harvey L. Carter, Trustee of the Jane R. Carter Revocable Trust (under Trust Agreement dated October 13, 2000) and Joann McKinley and Rodney A. McKinley, Co-Trustees of the Joann McKinley Trust (under Trust Agreement dated April 14, 2006).

Jason Little, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Baptist, was quoted in the Memphis Business Journal as saying, “The purchase of this site demonstrates the continued commitment of Baptist Memorial Health Care to our community. This location will allow Baptist to enhance patient convenience by providing an additional point of access for patients in the Midtown and Downtown area.”

Built in 1940, the mixed-use office building sits on 1.1 acres on the north side of Union between South McNeil and South Willett streets. It had a 2012 appraised value of $587,000, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Morgan Keegan Fund Directors Settle With SEC

A group of former Morgan Keegan & Co. mutual fund directors are reportedly settling claims filed against them by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010.

The SEC made the settlement public in an administrative order Wednesday, March 27. Terms were not disclosed.

The Memphis-based funds, according to regulators, had been invested in some securities backed by subprime mortgages and “fraudulently overstated the value of their securities” as the housing market was collapsing in 2007.

The SEC and other state regulators previously charged the funds’ managers with fraud, and Morgan Keegan – which later was sold to Raymond James Financial Inc. – agreed to pay $200 million to settle.

– Andy Meek

Fred's Profit Down as Costs Rise, Shoppers Wary

Discount store operator Fred’s Inc. said Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income fell 33 percent due to some higher costs and cautious consumer spending.

The company’s forecast for this year also fell below analyst expectations.

Fred’s pharmacy division is performing well, but its general merchandise unit is weaker, said Fred’s CEO Bruce Efird. The company is starting a three-year turnaround plan aimed at improving the profitability of its general merchandise segment.

Net income for the three months ended Feb. 2 fell to $6.6 million, or 18 cents per share. That compares with $9.8 million, or 26 cents per share, the year before. Analysts expected 20 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 7 percent, to $533.4 million from $497.6 million. Analysts expected $537.4 million. Revenue in stores open at least one year rose 4.8 percent. The measure is a key gauge of a retailer’s financial health because it excludes stores that open or close during the year.

Operating costs were higher than the company expected.

For the year, profit fell 11 percent to $29.6 million, or 81 cents per share. Revenue rose 4 percent to $1.96 billion.

Looking forward, Fred’s predicted earnings of 77 cents to 88 cents per share in 2013. Analysts expect 95 cents per share.

The company’s predictions for the current quarter also fell short, as bad weather in March hurt sales of seasonal items. Fred’s expects profit of 26 cents to 30 cents per share, with revenue in a range of down 1 percent to up 1 percent, which implies sales of $493 million to $503 million in the period through April.

Analysts expect profit of 30 cents per share on revenue of $511.3 million.

– The Associated Press

Bill Would Let Cities Form Own School Systems

Legislation that would allow cities to form their own school systems is advancing in the Senate.

The measure sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

The proposal would lift a 1998 ban that forbids municipalities from starting their own school systems.

The measure would benefit six Memphis suburbs seeking to bypass a merger of the Shelby County and Memphis school districts and run their own schools.

The suburbs voted in August to create their own districts after the Legislature passed a narrowly crafted bill that allowed it.

Shelby County officials argued in court that the law violated the Tennessee Constitution because it applied to only one county. A federal judge agreed and struck it down.

– The Associated Press

Chism Named BankTennessee Mortgage Loan Specialist

George Chism Sr. is a newly appointed mortgage loan specialist at BankTennessee.

Chism, who has been with the bank since February 2012, had been a commercial loan officer. During his tenure in the banking industry, Chism has worked at Magna Bank, Wells Fargo and Germantown Home Mortgage.

Collierville-based BankTennessee has seven retail banking offices located in Collierville, East Memphis, Downtown, Germantown, Ripley and Lebanon. The bank also has a loan production office in Atoka.

– Andy Meek

U of M Raises Awareness of Habitat for Humanity

The University of Memphis Habitat for Humanity Chapter and Students Advocating Service are hosting a series of events to educate the public about Habitat for Humanity’s mission and to encourage people to get involved.

Act! Speak! Build! Week is an annual, weeklong series of youth-led advocacy events that raise awareness on eradicating poverty and access to housing. The opening ceremony will be held on April 1, and events run through April 5. All events will be held on the University of Memphis campus.

– Jennifer Johnson Backer

Senate Bill Cuts Lawmaker Allowances

The Senate has passed a bill to eliminate hotel allowances for lawmakers who live within 50 miles of the state Capitol.

The proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. Ferrell Haile of Gallatin was approved on a 28-2 vote on Thursday. The measure would eliminate the $107-per-night hotel payment for Nashville-area legislators, though it would provide for daily mileage allowances instead of weekly ones.

The legislation would continue to provide a $66 daily meals allowance for all lawmakers.

The House approved its version on a 71-15 vote earlier this month, but would have to approve a technical change made by the Senate before the measure could head for the governor’s signature.

Annual savings are projected at more than $250,000.

– The Associated Press

Rate on 30-Year Mortgage Ticks up to 3.57 Percent

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages edged up this week but remained near historic lows. Low rates have helped drive the housing market’s steady recovery.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year fixed loan rose to 3.57 percent from 3.54 percent last week. That’s near the 3.31 percent reached in November, which was the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage increased last week to 2.76 percent from 2.72 percent last week. The record low of 2.63 percent was also reached in November.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fee for 30-year mortgages was unchanged at 0.8 point. The fee for 15-year loans also was steady, at 0.7 point.

The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage slipped to 2.62 percent from 2.63 percent last week. The fee for one-year adjustable-rate loans edged down to 0.3 from 0.4 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.68 percent from 2.61 percent. The fee held at 0.6 point.

– The Associated Press

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PROPERTY SALES 119 482 10,051
MORTGAGES 119 497 11,811
BUILDING PERMITS 268 1,056 21,366
BANKRUPTCIES 50 263 6,700

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