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VOL. 7 | NO. 17 | Saturday, April 19, 2014

Daily Digest

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First Horizon Grows Net Income in First Quarter

The first earnings announcement of the 150th anniversary year for First Tennessee Bank’s parent company was one of those seemingly uncommon things in banking these days – a surprise to the upside.

Analysts polled before the announcement Thursday, April 17, on average said they expected Memphis-based First Horizon National Corp.’s earnings to fall during the first quarter compared to one year ago. But, in fact, net income during the quarter for First Horizon was $45 million, equal to 19 cents per share.

That’s up from 17 cents during the first quarter of 2013, a 12 percent increase. Expenses also were down 8 percent company-wide during the quarter, and at the company’s banking unit, First Tennessee Bank, both deposits and lending were up.

“We’re preparing our company for the next 150 years,” said First Horizon chairman and CEO Bryan Jordan by way of putting the results in context and at the same time giving a nod to the company’s status as having the 14th oldest national bank charter in the country.

It was a theme he also stressed in an interview with The Daily News this month before the earnings call, looking back at what the bank has accomplished to reach its current milestone – and what the future holds.

At a private gathering Downtown in recent days to celebrate the company’s anniversary, for example, Jordan told The Daily News, “We had people there who (via their businesses) have been banking with us in excess of 100 years. The only way you have long-term success like that is through strong customer relationships.”

Wunderlich Securities Inc. bank analyst Kevin Reynolds, in an analyst note following First Horizon’s earnings presentation, described the company’s performance during the just-ended quarter as “respectable.” The “earnings beat,” he explained, was mostly due to a greater than expected decline in noninterest expenses for the bank.

Another bright spot he noted: First Horizon’s so-called efficiency row has come down and is getting closer to where the company wants it to be. The first-quarter efficiency ratio was 75.3 percent, down from 88.66 percent during the fourth quarter and 75.6 percent during the first quarter of 2013.

Simmons Named President of Financial Planning Assn.

Legacy Wealth Management chief compliance officer Cathy Simmons has been tapped to serve as president of the Memphis Chapter of the Financial Planning Association.

The term lasts for one year, and her responsibilities include helping guide new planners, shaping a vision for the future of financial planning and delivering the standard of care that is at the core of the profession.

The Memphis-based firm she’s a part of has been in business for more than 30 years and provides portfolio management and financial planning services to more than 750 clients.

Continental Approved for Tax Freeze

The tire division of Continental AG, one of the world’s largest automotive industry suppliers, will open a tire retreading, service and sales center in Memphis after receiving approval for a tax break.

Continental Tire the Americas LLC was awarded a five-year tax break from the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County for the project that will employ 25 people at 3474 Winchester Road.

The company’s total capital investment is expected to reach $2.1 million, and the 25 new jobs will pay an average annual wage of $41,814. The five-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentive saves the company $161,325 while producing $616,281 of new tax revenue.

Head Joins CBU as Chief Financial Officer

Carolyn Head is the new chief financial officer and vice president for administration and finance at Christian Brothers University.

Head, who is currently chief budget officer for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, begins her duties at CBU in June.

She has held the chief budget officer post at UTHSC since January 2011. Before that, she was accounting and business manager for the UT Medical Group and owner of Management Consulting and Accounting Services.

Head succeeds Daniel Wortham, who is retiring at the end of May after being CFO and vice president at CBU for 14 years.

NBA Playoff Tickets On Sale Saturday

Tickets for the first two Memphis Grizzlies home games in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs will go on sale Saturday, April 19, at 10 a.m.

The Grizzlies will begin their first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road Saturday, April 19. The third and fourth games – to be held Thursday, April 24, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 26, at 8:30 p.m. – will be at FedExForum, as will Game 6, if necessary.

Fans interested in purchasing tickets for the first two home games can do so at all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 800-4-NBA-TIX, visiting the FedExForum Box Office or online at grizzlies.com or ticketmaster.com.

Baptist Named Among 100 Great Hospitals

Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis was recently named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2014 list of “100 Great Hospitals in America.”

To develop this list, the Becker's Hospital Review editorial team conducted research, considered nominations and evaluated hospital ranking sources, such as U.S. News & World Report, Truven Health Analytics' 100 Top Hospitals, Healthgrades, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, The LeapFrog Group and several other resources.

The Baptist Memphis campus includes the 706-bed hospital that is the flagship of the Baptist Memorial Health Care system. It serves as a major referral center for patients from across the Mid-South and offers diagnostic, surgical and rehabilitation services.

Lawmakers Vote to Delay Common Core Testing

The testing component of Tennessee's Common Core education standards would be delayed a year under legislation headed to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's desk.

The measure was sent to the governor on Thursday after lawmakers in both chambers voted to accept a conference committee report that recommended the delay. Haslam has said he doesn't want any type of delay, so it's unclear what he will do with the legislation.

Last month, lawmakers passed a bill that sought to delay further implementation of the new standards for two years. It also sought to delay the testing component for the standards for the same amount of time.

The measure now only affects the testing component, which is scheduled to begin in the school year that begins in August.

Measure to Allow Electric Chair in Tenn.

Tennessee could electrocute death row inmates if lethal injection drugs are unavailable under legislation that's headed for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's desk.

The Senate voted 25-3 on Thursday to agree to changes to the legislation made by the House, which approved the measure 68-13 the day before.

The legislation keeps lethal injection as the preferred method for executions, but allows the electric chair if the state were unable to obtain the necessary drugs or if lethal injections were found unconstitutional.

And electrocutions would be allowed regardless of when the crime was committed.

Under Tennessee law, death row inmates could choose to be electrocuted if their crimes were committed before 1999, when lethal injection became the preferred method.

There are 76 inmates on Tennessee's death row, including one woman.

30-Year Mortgage Rate Falls to 4.27 Percent

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year loan fell to 4.27 percent from 4.34 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.33 percent from 3.38 percent.

Mortgage rates have risen about a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.

Many analysts have been expecting an improving economy to lift the housing market, which has been recovering over the past two years. But housing has struggled to maintain momentum. Rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have held back some potential home buyers. Others have had trouble qualifying for mortgages.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that U.S. home construction rose moderately in March as builders resumed work at the end of a frigid winter. But applications for building permits slid, clouding the outlook for future construction.

Neely’s Receives Loan With Conditions

The original Neely’s Bar-B-Que could be making a comeback if owners can pay off back property taxes.

The Downtown Memphis Commission’s Center City Development Corp. on Wednesday, April 16, approved a $67,500 development loan to bring Neely’s back to 670 Jefferson Ave. if owners pay back taxes on two closed restaurants.

Owners owe more than $40,000 in delinquent city and county taxes and penalties on the Jefferson Avenue property and a former restaurant at 5700 Mt. Moriah Road, which both closed in October 2012.

Tony Neely, who would operate the restaurant, applied for the development loan to help revive the original Neely’s restaurant in the Victorian Village area just west of the Medical Center.

Neely previously operated the Neely’s location in Nashville and is the brother of Patrick Neely, who stars with his wife, Gina, in the Food Network’s “Down Home with the Neelys.”

GTx Scientific Officer Resigns

James Dalton, the chief scientific officer and vice president of Memphis-based GTx Inc., will resign effective Aug. 31 to become dean of the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy.

The biopharmaceutical company announced Dalton’s resignation Wednesday, April 16, in a notice to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Terms of Dalton’s departure were still being discussed, according to the GTx notice, with the possibility Dalton might serve as a consultant for some period after the end of August.

Dalton is the latest departure from the biopharmaceutical company.

GTx co-founder Dr. Mitchell Steiner resigned as CEO of the company effective April 3 to “pursue other business interests.”

With Steiner’s departure, the company’s board announced its intent to seek a European marketing application for enobosarm, a drug it has been trying to gain approval for marketing in the U.S. as well.

The drug is a treatment for muscle wasting in patients with advance non-small cell lung cancer.

Earlier this month, the company was told by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that tests on enobosarm did not produce the necessary data in current trials that allow GTx to file a new drug application.

GTx laid off 53 non-executive employees late last year, with the company’s chief financial officer resigning the day the layoffs were announced.

Magna Bank Launches New Checking Product

Magna Bank has announced a new checking account package called Prime Checking, which allows a wider range of the bank’s checking customers to earn interest on their account balances.

With Prime Checking, if monthly qualifications are met, customers can earn an enhanced interest rate on average collected balances up to $30,000 and have up to $15 of ATM surcharges refunded per statement cycle. Customers can open Prime Checking and most other deposit accounts online, part of Magna’s ongoing technology upgrades.

The bank also recently began offering mobile deposit capability through its upgraded mobile app and plans to unveil more upgrades in the coming months.

Council to Abolish Weights and Measures

Memphis City Council member Myron Lowery unsuccessfully attempted Tuesday, April 15, to take back the April 1 council vote to abolish the city’s department of weights and measures.

Lowery moved for reconsideration, saying he wanted a one-year transition period to ensure state government would be prepared to take over the duties of making sure gas pumps and scales in retail stores accurately reflect prices by weight or amount.

His move for reconsideration lost on 6-7 vote.

The city department will no longer be funded by the city as of July 1 under terms of the resolution, which is similar to action the council took to do away with auto inspections.

Bill Passes That Would Help Felons Get Jobs

The Tennessee Legislature has passed a bill that may make it easier for some felons who have turned their lives around to find a job.

The bill, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, would allow courts to issue a certificate of employability to convicted felons who have stayed out of trouble. It would also grant some legal protection from lawsuits to employers who hire a felon who has the court-issued certificate.

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, a Republican from Germantown. Rep. Karen Camper, a Democrat from Memphis, sponsored the House version of the bill.

Kelsey said the bill encourages public safety because people are less likely to turn back to crime if they have a job.

The bill has yet to be signed by the governor.

Hope House Golf Classic to be Held April 28

The Hope House Classic will be held Monday, April 28, at Chickasaw Country Club, 3395 Galloway Ave., to raise funding for programs and services that Hope House provides for children and families affected by HIV.

Hope House is seeking individuals and teams interested in participating in the tournament or acting as a sponsor. Throughout the day, golfers can challenge teammates and other players through games such as the hole-in-one competition and the birdie challenge.

Registration is $1,000 per team of four players, and individual entries are $300. Registration fees include player gifts, a silent auction with high-end items such as gift cards to local restaurants, entertainment and travel packages, spa packages and other gifts. Register at hopehousememphis.org or 272-2702, ext. 206.

House Rejects Senate Version of Anti-Meth Bill

The Tennessee House has refused to go along with the Senate version of Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to set tighter annual limits on the amount of cold and allergy medicines used to make meth that can be bought without a prescription.

The lower chamber voted 80-10 on Wednesday, April 16, to reject the Senate version, meaning the legislation is likely headed for conference committee to work out their differences.

The House version would set an annual limit of 28.8 grams, or a five-month supply, without a prescription. The Senate bill would set a limit at half that amount.

According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, 1,685 meth labs were seized in Tennessee last year.

Artist Chosen for Broad Water Tower

The Broad Avenue water tower artist has been chosen.

Suikang Zhao was announced as the winner of the Broad Avenue Water Tower Public Art Project at the recent MemFeast event, securing a $70,000 grant to produce his vision.

His proposal called for a combination of 2-D and 3-D artwork with colored LED lights, and the goal is for installation to be completed by the Broad Avenue Art Walk in October.

Lakeland Annexation Opponents Present Petition

Opponents of an annexation of parts of northeast Shelby County by the city of Lakeland were to take a petition Tuesday, April 15, to the Lakeland mayor and board of commissioners.

The petition, signed by hundreds of landowners in the area that includes Bolton High School, is a response to a petition by 52 citizens in January requesting the annexation.

The petition prompted the commissioners to approve funding for an annexation feasibility study.

The area under discussion is 35 square miles and comes as Lakeland and the county’s five other suburbs prepare to start their own school systems in August.

Shelby County Schools will take in the city of Memphis and all unincorporated areas of Shelby County with the demerger.

Lakeland’s school system is the smallest among the six suburbs, with its only school being Lakeland Elementary.

If the annexation goes through, Bolton High – which is crucial to Shelby County Schools’ plans for that part of the county – would not automatically become part of the Lakeland Schools district. Instead, the two school systems would begin negotiations.

In negotiations that produced settlements on school buildings last year, Shelby County Schools retained four schools – three within Germantown’s borders and one in Millington.

Tenn. Revenues Improve but Still Fall Short

Tennessee revenue collections are showing signs of improvement, but are still well below expectations.

The state's general fund collections came in $4 million short of projections in March, which reflects economic activity in the previous month.

Corporate franchise and excise taxes were $12 million below the budgeted estimate for the month, though sales taxes exceeded expectations by $9 million.

Through the first eight months of the budget year, general fund collections have come up $264 million short of projections. The poor revenue collections led the Republican-controlled Legislature to cancel planned raises for teachers and state employees in the state's $32.4 billion annual budget plan passed last week.

Strong Beer Sales Bill Headed to Governor

A bill to allow stronger beer to be sold in Tennessee supermarkets and convenience stores is headed for Gov. Bill Haslam's desk.

The House voted 72-12 on Monday to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville. The Senate last week passed its version sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro on a 22-7 vote.

Current law allows any beer stronger than 5 percent by weight – or about 6.3 percent by the more common measure of alcohol by volume – to only to be sold in liquor stores. The bill would raise that limit to 8 percent by weight, or about 10 percent by volume.

The change would take effect in 2017.

Override of Local Bans of Guns in Parks Fails

A bill seeking to do away with city and county governments' power to ban firearms in parks, playgrounds and ball fields has failed for the year.

The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Tilman Goins of Morristown did not emerge from the House Finance Subcommittee before the panel closed for the year on Monday night.

The Legislature in 2009 gave city and county governments the ability to opt out of a new law that allowed people with state-issued handgun carry permits to bring their firearms into state and local parks.

The Senate passed its version of the bill to eliminate that local control on 26-7 vote in February. But the House version got caught up on the bill's estimated $38,000 price tag.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam was among the bill's opponents.

Wright Medical Investing in Arlington

Just months after relocating its corporate headquarters to Memphis, Wright Medical Group Inc. is planning a $4.3 million expansion of its manufacturing and distribution operations in Arlington.

Wright will add about 52,000 square feet of warehouse and office space next door to an existing industrial and office location at 11564 Memphis Arlington Road, according to a building permit. Wright moved its headquarters to the wooded office campus at Park Avenue and Cherry Road in East Memphis but has kept its manufacturing and distribution operations in Arlington.

Wright is investing in Arlington following the sale of its hip- and knee-implant business, along with a host of other Arlington facilities, to MicroPort Scientific Corp. of China, a $290 million deal that was finalized in January.

Bank On Memphis Continues to Grow

More than 6,400 Bank On Memphis accounts have been created since 2010, when the Memphis and Shelby County governments joined business and nonprofit groups to launch the initiative.

Most of those were checking accounts, with the rest being savings accounts. Most accounts were opened by residents in the 38109 ZIP code of Whitehaven, followed by Midtown’s 38106 ZIP code and Orange Mound’s 38114 ZIP code.

The number of Bank On Memphis community partners and financial institutions also is growing. There are now 12 participating financial institutions and more than a dozen community partners, including the Memphis Area Transit Authority, United Way of the Mid-South and the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

BankTennessee Breaks Ground in Munford

BankTennessee is breaking ground for its new branch in Munford April 22.

The 3,267-square-foot branch will have an expandable second floor and will be located on a 1.12-acre site at 26 Munford Ave. It will mirror the design of the BankTennessee branch in Ripley and is scheduled to open in October.

Study Shows Increase in Online Info Thefts

The number of Americans who have had important personal information stolen online is on the rise.

That's according to a new Pew Research Center report released Monday.

The January survey shows that 18 percent of online adults had personal information stolen such as their social security number, credit card or bank account information. That's up from 11 percent in a July 2013 survey.

The number of adults that had an online account compromised – such as email or social media – remained flat at 21 percent.

The survey was done after news broke of Target Corp.'s massive pre-Christmas data breach that resulted in the theft of 40 million debit and credit card numbers, along with the personal information of up to 70 million people.

2 Brokers Take Majority Stake in Colliers Memphis

Two longtime members of Colliers International's Memphis office have taken a majority stake in the real estate company.

Andy Cates, executive vice president of brokerage, and Brad Kornegay, CEO of Colliers Management Services LLC, are now the majority shareholders in the two legal entities that make up the Memphis office.

“This is just the official passing of the torch to Andy and Brad, who have both been partners and actively involved in leadership for a number of years,” said president Gene Woods in a statement. “We’ve always seen the need for succession planning and have known for quite some time that these two highly capable individuals represented the future of our company.”

Woods, Dan Wilkinson and Bayard Snowden were the second generation of leadership at the company founded in 1946 as Colliers Wilkinson by Wilkinson’s uncle, Russell Wilkinson, and Snowden’s father, Robert Snowden.

Woods, Wilkinson and Snowden will remain involved with the company for the foreseeable future. Woods will remain involved in the operations of the brokerage office, while Kornegay will continue as CEO of Colliers Management Services.

Cates, who joined Colliers in 1998 and became a partner in 2005, said Colliers, a major player in the local industrial real estate sector for decades, will seek to increase its presence in the retail and office sectors.

“A couple of years ago, we began growing our office and retail presence, and we’d like to see those sectors become as successful as our industrial real estate practice,” Cates said.

Library Enhances Offerings at Small-Business Center

The Memphis Public Library & Information Center has announced enhanced offerings at its Small Business Center on the third floor of the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.

The First Tennessee Foundation and Start Co. are contributing to these efforts, investing funding, time and expertise for small-business owners and entrepreneurs. The First Tennessee Foundation has awarded the Memphis Library Foundation a $50,000 grant to enhance the Small Business Center’s collection of books and other materials ranging in topics from business development to social media marketing.

Start Co. mentors will host mentoring sessions at the Small Business Center starting April 8. Each Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., these mentors will offer free counseling to small-business owners and entrepreneurs, discussing ideas and helping address challenges.

Harwood Center Observes Autism Awareness Month

April is National Autism Awareness Month and the Hardwood Center will be the site of two events aimed at bringing more attention to autism.

Children who attend the Harwood Center will release balloons at 10 a.m., Wednesday, April 16, from the playground of Harwood’s downtown site, 711 Jefferson, which is located on the University of Tennessee Health Science Center campus.

The balloon release will be followed on Friday, April 18, with Harwood’s annual “Opening Eyes to Autism” 5K run in downtown Memphis. The proceeds from this race help offset the cost of children’s attendance at the Center, making it more affordable for families.

Autism is a disorder that affects social and communication skills. Current statistics indicate that autism affects one child in 68, a significant increase over previous estimates. Programs such as those at the Harwood Center, which specialize in educational and behavioral teaching techniques, have had success in combatting the effects of autism.

More information about the Harwood Center, and the 5K run, is available online at www.harwoodcenter.org or by telephone at 901-448-6580.

Businesses Increased Stockpiles 0.4 Percent

U.S. businesses boosted their stockpiles in February as sales rebounded by the largest amount in nine months.

Stockpiles increased 0.4 percent in February following a similar 0.4 percent increase in January, the Commerce Department reported Monday. Sales rose 0.8 percent in February, bouncing back after a 1.1 percent sales decline in January that was blamed on the harsh weather that month. It was the biggest one-month sales gain since last May.

A separate report showed a surge in sales at the retail level in March, providing support to the view that stronger consumer spending in coming months will encourage businesses to restock their shelves and provide a boost to the economy.

While the economy slowed in the January-March quarter, many economists are looking for a strong rebound in the current quarter.

The report on business inventories covers all kinds of stockpiles, including manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing.

Inventories held by manufacturers rose the most in February, a gain of 0.7 percent, while inventories at the wholesale level were up 0.5 percent. Stockpiles held by retailers were unchanged in February.

University of Memphis Football Tickets on Sale

Kickoff is still months away, but season tickets for the University of Memphis 2014 football season are on sale.

Fans may also renew or purchase new season tickets online at gotigersgo.com/tickets or by calling the athletic ticket office at 678-2331.

Season ticket prices remain the same from the 2013 season: Box (chairback) seats are $250, prime (sideline) seats are $150, and Fun Zone seats are $55.

In addition to season tickets, the University of Memphis will offer a new Pick 3 plan for the 2014 season. Fans can select any three games on the home schedule for $79. Pick 3 plans will provide fans the same seat for three selected prime location seats (sideline).

The Memphis athletic ticket office also has group tickets available, with prices starting at $5 per ticket.

For more information about the premium seats, contact Stephen Green at 678-3306 or smgreen2@memphis.edu.

PROPERTY SALES 81 201 16,108
MORTGAGES 40 104 10,026
BUILDING PERMITS 130 336 38,272
BANKRUPTCIES 28 56 7,528