03/17/17 Economic Development
From economy to education to leadership, there are dozens of potential frontburner issues Tampa Bay must confront. But let's separate the wheat from the chaff. Here's my take on four top priorities this region needs to get a better handle on.
Our sagging infrastructure
Earlier this month, the American Society of Civil Engineers delivered its "Infrastructure Report Card" with an embarrassing D+ grade to the quality of U.S. roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure. It's a respected assessment that the engineering group publishes every four years. The group said an additional $2 trillion in funding is needed to raise the standards....
Maybe it should be called Walter Investment Mismanagement.
Tampa mortgage banking firm Walter Investment Management Corp. saw what was left of its already battered stock price tank by nearly 39 percent on Tuesday after the long struggling firm announced an annual loss in 2016 of more than half a billion (that's with a B) dollars, as well as a $22.2 million loss for the fourth quarter.
Shares closed Tuesday at $1.65, shaving close to $50 million off the company's dwindling market value....
To say Tech Data Corp. CEO Bob Dutkowsky's having a good year isn't a far cry from suggesting the New England Patriots had a good Super Bowl.
Tech Data just closed on a major — better yet, let's call it game-changing — acquisition of the Technology Solutions group of Avnet, another big tech distributor. The deal was priced last fall at $2.6 billion, a figure that should not be taken lightly. That's the same price the stock market valued all of Tech Data — $2.6 billion — as a public company when the purchase was announced....
Trigaux: Setbacks at Enterprise Florida, in downtown Clearwater deliver one-two punch to job recruiting03/07/17Business
Florida business recruiting: We have a problem.
Make that two.
First up: Tallahassee, which was shocked Monday when Enterprise Florida — the state's job recruiting agency — lost its latest CEO. Chris Hart resigned after only two months on the job. Hart claimed he could not see eye to eye with Gov. Rick Scott on how best to lead Enterprise Florida. He now leaves behind a headless agency at the critical start of the Florida Legislature. The House Speaker is waging a war to do away with the public-private agency altogether as an impediment to letting a "free market" decide what jobs are created in this state....
03/03/17 Economic Development
Florida's economy ranks an impressive seventh among U.S. states. The state's infrastructure stands at a commendable 11th and even its government gets a thumbs up at ninth nationwide.
Impressive! Mission accomplished?
Take a closer look. Based on "opportunity" — a measure of household income, poverty and inequality of education, income and by race — Florida rates a dismal 43rd among the 50 states. Ranked by "crime and corrections" — a look at state incarceration rates and public safety — the state limps along at 37th. And in especially critical categories of health care and education, Florida lands at an unimpressive 31st and lagging 29th, respectively....
The Dow may still be lurking above 21,000, but this bullish stock market does not shed its grace on all publicly traded companies. These five — three are locally based and two are prominent players here but have headquarters in other states — are finding the recent economy has not been as kind to them as others. Some of these businesses are in industries undergoing rapid change and intense competition. Others — well what's the best way to put this? — seem to be suffering from a failure to execute. They are all big companies with uphill climbs of variable steepness ahead. Like the five well performing companies profiled earlier this week, there's much to appreciate and learn from these firms and their challenges. ...
This spring, some leading lawmakers in the Florida Legislature are smitten with a searing desire to inject more "free market" principles into Florida's economy.
Job incentives be damned. Tourism marketing? A waste of tax dollars.
On the surface, business should cheer more free market competition in Florida. For decades, most business complaints leveled against the federal and state governments have involved excessive regulation, compliance costs and taxes....
Part 1 of 2 columns looking at which publicly traded companies in the Tampa Bay market are performing especially well right now. Part 2, which looks at a handful of area firms losing money or struggling, appears tomorrow.
Welcome to the fast lane of Tampa Bay's public companies where stocks are roaring to record heights and bottom lines are setting new highs in revenues and earnings. Maybe it sounds so easy that these five companies — ones making their marks in health care, financial services, tech distribution, building products and recreational boat retailing — are recently enjoying remarkable runs. After all, the stock market's still on a rocket ride — the Dow soared 303 points to 21,115 on Wednesday — since President Trump took office. Are these five simply along for the ride? • No way. These local businesses have demonstrated focused strategies, resilient turnarounds and great execution. Watch them and learn. Tomorrow's column will examine another five companies operating in the Tampa Bay market that have not been so lucky or, perhaps, as smart....
Anyone who pays attention to the avalanche of personal finance warnings about America's inability to save money might think they have heard it all already.
Not enough people save for the basic emergencies of day to day life, let alone sock away money for retirement. We've written and read versions of this unnerving theme for years.
Now comes a fresh and painful analysis from the Consumer Federation of America and American Savings Education Council. Their findings? After a decade of annual surveys, the country's savings habits are still continuing to erode. ...
What's most striking about Tampa Bay's momentum lately is the breadth both of economic and quality of life strides under way. Forbes this month published a list of the 25 fastest growing U.S. metro areas that, to use the magazine's words, "provides a holistic picture of places on the upswing."
Upswing. That's a pretty good description of Tampa Bay these days. Not only does Florida capture six of the top ten picks of fastest growing places by Forbes (with Tampa Bay coming in eighth), the Sunshine State grabs a total of nine of the 25 top metros. That's a whopping 36 percent....
ST. PETERSBURG — Like a lot of Americans, HSN CEO Mindy Grossman is happy to say goodbye to 2016. It was not the best of times for her home-shopping empire.
HSN on Wednesday reported the TV, digital and catalog retailing company's performance for all of 2016 and its fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 31.
Net income plummeted 30 percent in 2016 from the prior year to $118.7 million, while fourth-quarter net income dropped 27 percent to $43.5 million. Net sales slipped 3 percent to $3.6 billion in 2016 from a year earlier, while dipping 2 percent in the fourth quarter to $1.07 billion from same quarter of 2015....
02/22/17 Personal Finance
For all the talk of an economic rebound in Florida, there's a big problem that too often stays out of the state's spotlight.
More than 4 of every 10 households in Florida — 3.3 million of the state's 7.5 million households — are struggling to make ends meet. That 44 percent includes not only the 14.5 percent of households that earn less than the federal poverty level but another 29.5 percent of Florida households that are part of the working poor. These are folks ranging from fast food workers, the bulk of tourism industry employees, home health care workers and even certain teachers who find their modest paychecks still make it tough to meet basic needs....
For a theme park company that easily could have been financially mauled by years of bad publicity, SeaWorld Entertainment is showing surprising resilience.
Forced to reinvent itself without its star orca attraction, the theme park company on Tuesday released preliminary performance numbers for 2016 that show a modest drop in both theme park attendance and revenues. The figures are down, but apparently solid enough to ease the fears of investors. SeaWorld shares closed Tuesday at $19.31 apiece. That's close to where the stock price traded at the start of this year....
Bloomin' Brands, Tampa's beleaguered parent of such big-name restaurant chains as Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill, must feel like it's been wandering the casual dining bog in search of solid ground for years.
Alas, there's no sign of dry land yet.
The company, whose holdings of 1,500-plus restaurants also include Bonefish Grill and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, on Friday reported declining customer traffic across all four of its chains, lower sales at three of its four brands, the closing of 43 underperforming restaurants and a $4.3 million loss for the fourth quarter that ended on Dec. 31....
What's most striking about Tampa Bay's momentum lately is the breadth both of economic and quality of life strides under way. Forbes this month published a list of the 25 fastest growing U.S. metro areas that, to use the magazine's words, "provides a holistic picture of places on the upswing."...