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Verizon dials into a large, industrial Bronx site for $21M

The communications company had been leasing the 2.7-acre Castle Hill property.....»»

Category: blogSource: crainsnewyorkNov 24th, 2022

Sterling"s (STRL) RLW Wins Aviation Contract at Salt Lake City

Sterling's (STRL) focus on the execution of projects and strategic objectives bode well. Sterling Infrastructure, Inc.’s STRL subsidiary, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Company, LLC (RLW), won the Phase 4 Terminal Redevelopment Program at the Salt Lake City International Airport.The project’s scope includes airfield and civil work to connect adjacent taxiways and extensive electrical work to update lighting and signage. Also, the demolition of taxiways, aprons, utilities and other related infrastructure will be completed to make way for new installations in the design layout.Over the last three years, STRL received more than $200 million in aviation projects with the department of airports. To this note, Sterling's CEO, Joe Cutillo, stated, "This award is yet another example of aligning our unparalleled performance with our strategic focus in our Transportation Solutions segment to expand our alternative delivery aviation business."Solid Project Execution Bode WellThis Woodlands, TX-based company specializes in E-Infrastructure, Building and Transportation Solutions principally in the United States, mainly across the Southern, Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Rocky Mountain states, California and Hawaii.The company has been navigating the ongoing supply chain and inflation challenges with growth in its E-Infrastructure Solutions (its largest segment), E-Infrastructure and Building Solutions. With continued demand for complex site development, STRL has been broadening its customer base with industrial and manufacturing opportunities in E-Infrastructure Solutions, thereby helping it to generate higher profits. Focus on the execution of strategic objectives also bodes well.Earlier on Oct 26, RLW received two new projects in Idaho for more than $34 million. The awards combine the Idaho Transportation Department’s (ITD) infrastructure improvements with a design-build concrete package project.In the past six months, shares of the company have gained 32.8% compared with Zacks Engineering - R and D Services industry’s 2% increase. It is benefiting from solid E-Infrastructure Solutions and Transportation and Building Solutions businesses. September-end backlog and combined backlog levels were at all-time highs, primarily as a result of the new large site development projects in E-Infrastructure Solutions and increased bid activity in Transportation Solutions.Backed by strong results and backlog, the company raised its fiscal 2022 guidance. Its current guidance reflects net income improvement by 53%, revenue by 21% and EPS by 47% year over year.STRL’s earnings for 2022 and 2023 are expected to grow by 47.4% and 6.3%, respectively. This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock has seen a 4.3% upward estimate revision for 2022 earnings in the past 30 days, depicting analysts’ optimism over its prospects.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Key PicksSome better-ranked stocks that warrant a look in the Zacks Construction sector include Atlas Technical Consultants, Inc. ATCX, Altair Engineering Inc. ALTR and EMCOR Group Inc. EME, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2.Atlas Technical, an Austin, TX-based company, provides professional testing, inspection, engineering, environmental and program management and consulting services in the United States. The company’s record backlog and robust new award pipeline reflect the business’ prospects. ATCX has become one of the largest providers of mission-critical technical services for infrastructure and environmental markets in the United States.ATCX’s expected earnings growth rate for 2023 is 76.9%.Altair Engineering provides software and cloud solutions in simulation, high-performance computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence worldwide.ALTR’s expected earnings growth rate for 2023 is 21.5%.EMCOR Group, a Norwalk, CT-based company, provides electrical and mechanical construction and facilities services in the United States. EMCOR has been benefiting from solid execution in the U.S. Construction segment — comprising the U.S. Mechanical and Electrical Construction units — as well as disciplined cost control. Also, accretive buyouts have been strengthening its overall results by adding new markets, opportunities and capabilities.EMCOR’s 2022 and 2023 are expected to grow 10.2% and 17%, respectively. This Little-Known Semiconductor Stock Could Be Your Portfolio’s Hedge Against Inflation Everyone uses semiconductors. But only a small number of people know what they are and what they do. If you use a smartphone, computer, microwave, digital camera or refrigerator (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), you have a need for semiconductors. That’s why their importance can’t be overstated and their disruption in the supply chain has such a global effect. But every cloud has a silver lining. Shockwaves to the international supply chain from the global pandemic have unearthed a tremendous opportunity for investors. And today, Zacks' leading stock strategist is revealing the one semiconductor stock that stands to gain the most in a new FREE report. It's yours at no cost and with no obligation.>>Yes, I Want to Help Protect My Portfolio During the RecessionWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Altair Engineering Inc. (ALTR): Free Stock Analysis Report EMCOR Group, Inc. (EME): Free Stock Analysis Report Sterling Infrastructure, Inc. (STRL): Free Stock Analysis Report Atlas Technical Consultants, Inc. (ATCX): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 24th, 2022

Atlanta firms partner on rezoning request to allow large industrial project just outside Triad

RP Salisbury Partners LLC, which documents show is a partnership between Track West Partners and Rooker, is seeking to rezone a 98.1-acre site in Rowan County......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsNov 23rd, 2022

Sterling (STRL) Wins IDIQ Contract to Support Border Security

Sterling (STRL) focuses on the execution of strategic objectives and projects. Sterling Infrastructure, Inc. STRL won an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Per the contract, STRL’s work includes the design and build of critical infrastructure required to support border security, including roads, utilities and other related infrastructure.Joe Cutillo, Sterling's CEO, stated, "This award is another example of our ability to lever our core skills in other end markets and continue to migrate away from low bid heavy highway work. The strict qualifications, along with extensive bid requirements, ensured only the most qualified contractors were able to bid. TSC's ability to make the short list, and win, demonstrates our strong relationship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the broad capabilities we have to serve them in the future."Solid Project Execution Bode WellThis Woodlands, TX-based company specializes in E-Infrastructure, Building and Transportation Solutions principally in the United States, mainly across the Southern, Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Rocky Mountain states, California and Hawaii.The company has been navigating the ongoing supply chain and inflation challenges well with growth in its E-Infrastructure Solutions (its largest segment), E-Infrastructure and Building Solutions. With continued demand for complex site development, STRL has been broadening its customer base with industrial and manufacturing opportunities in E-Infrastructure Solutions, thereby helping it to generate higher profits. Continued focus on the execution of strategic objectives also bodes well.On Oct 26, STRL’s subsidiary, Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Company, LLC, received two new projects in Idaho for more than $34 million. The awards combine the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) infrastructure improvements and a design-build concrete package project.In the past six months, shares of the company have gained 34.1% compared with Zacks Engineering - R and D Services industry’s 3.1% increase. It is benefiting from solid E-Infrastructure Solutions and Transportation and Building Solutions businesses. September-end backlog and combined backlog levels were at all-time highs, primarily as a result of the new large site development projects in E-Infrastructure Solutions and increased bid activity in Transportation Solutions.Backed by strong results and backlog level, the company raised its fiscal 2022 guidance. Its current guidance reflects net income improvement by 53%, revenue by 21% and EPS by 47% year over year.STRL’s earnings for 2022 and 2023 are expected to grow 47.4% and 6.3%, respectively. This Zacks Rank #2 stock has seen a 4.3% upward estimate revision for 2022 earnings over the past 30 days, depicting analysts’ optimism over its prospects.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Key PicksSome better-ranked stocks, which warrant a look in the Zacks Construction sector, include Willdan Group, Inc. WLDN, EMCOR Group EME and Altair Engineering Inc. ALTR, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).Willdan is a nationwide provider of professional, technical, and consulting services to utilities, government agencies, and private industry.WLDN’s expected earnings growth rate for 2023 is 18.5%.EMCOR is one of the leading providers of mechanical and electrical construction, industrial and energy infrastructure, as well as building services for a diverse range of businesses.EME’s expected earnings growth rate for 2023 is 17%.Altair Engineering provides software and cloud solutions in the areas of simulation, high-performance computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence worldwide.ALTR’s expected earnings growth rate for 2023 is 21.5%. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock And 4 Runners UpWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Altair Engineering Inc. (ALTR): Free Stock Analysis Report Willdan Group, Inc. (WLDN): Free Stock Analysis Report Sterling Infrastructure, Inc. (STRL): Free Stock Analysis Report Atlas Technical Consultants, Inc. (ATCX): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 21st, 2022

The only thing Elon Musk understands about Twitter is how to kill it

Musk declared that Twitter is a "collective cybernetic super-intelligence." Which reveals how little he understands about his new plaything. Musk declared that Twitter is a "collective cybernetic super-intelligence." Which reveals how little he understands about his new plaything.Rachel Mendelson/InsiderIn early November, as mass layoffs began at Twitter and blue-check parodies were about to nuke the company's advertising business, the new owner got a little dorm-roomy. At 1:13 a.m. on a Thursday, Elon Musk tweeted:"Because it consists of billions of bidirectional interactions per day, Twitter can be thought of as a collective, cybernetic, super-intelligence."This was a pretty wild thing to be thinking about, given all the potentially company-ending chaos that Musk was getting ready to inflict on Twitter. But it also revealed something important about his thought process. Musk has long worried, very publicly, about the dangers that all-powerful cybernetic superintelligences might pose to humanity. So you might think that if Twitter were one of those, that would have been high on his list of reasons not to spend $44 billion to buy the company. Perhaps he didn't perceive that particular caveat until he was the emptor. Or perhaps the price he paid for Twitter wasn't the only thing that was high.Either way, Musk had stumbled on to a rich theoretical vein. Flocks of birds, schools of fish, herds of cattle, swarms of bees, even tumors, brains, and sometimes drones and software agents — what we might collectively call "collectives" — do preternaturally intelligent things when they work in unison.So Musk was on to something big. Biologists, anthropologists, and information theorists do think that social networks, like Musk's bird app, show at least some signs of being flocks. On a social network, all the likes and faves, the mutual follows and retweets and shares, turn us individual users into something bigger, smarter, and weirder. And scientists hope that the mechanisms for how that works could someday help tame the crappier aspects of social media — the polarization, the disinformation, the harassment, the Nazis. Understanding Twitter as a collective could make social media less polarizing and more useful.But the thing is, I don't think that's what Musk meant. And since he hit on the idea of Twitter as a collective intelligence, he's gone on to get every implication of that larger thought wrong. At a core level, he simply doesn't understand what he bought, or how it works. And whether Musk manages to hold this thing together or spin it into shards, his deeper misunderstanding should make all of us even more worried about the future of social media than we already are. If Twitter is a collective superbrain, that superbrain might be sociopathic.Resistance is futileHere's a chilling sentence: Elon Musk was right.A group of seemingly random-acting individuals turns into a collective when it follows a set of simple rules, like "turn right when the guy nearest you turns right" or "make an alarmed noise when you hear an alarmed noise." From these tiny instruction sets, all sorts of complicated cooperative actions (pack hunting, migrations) arise spontaneously, like a weaver creating an intricate twill pattern just by repeating a couple of simple flicks of their loom. Scientists call those emergent behaviors.For the behaviors to emerge, though, animals have to communicate. Fish and birds use visual signals about what their neighbors are doing — turn left, dive fast, whatever — to create the gorgeous flowing murmurations of starlings or quick en-masse undulations of anchovy schools. Hyenas use audible calls. Ants lay down pheromone trails. And people? We have language. That's how we trade information.Groups of animals, like this shoal of 50,000 sardines, can act in sophisticated, united ways based on a few simple rules of behavior — like, "avoid the shark."Yoshikazu Tsuno - AFP/Getty ImagesIn that sense, social networks are definitely collectives. Where else do so many humans communicate with so many other humans than on Twitter and Facebook and TikTok? They're collectives, and things like viral memes or Arab Springs are what emerge. "Collective behavior happens wherever you have rules of interaction among individuals. You get emergent properties," says Joe Bak-Coleman, a researcher at the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security at Columbia University who studies this stuff. "But that's quite different from the question of, at these very large scales, are we processing information and making good decisions?"Musk's tweet attracted Bak-Coleman's attention because he has been working for years on the idea that understanding the collectivist nature of social networks might make them better. Yes,  people communicate on social networks. But the twist, Bak-Coleman warns, is that "social networks change how that information propagates." Our words go further, faster. We don't get any of the signals of trustworthiness our brains have evolved to look for. If the bird closest to you says "turn right," he may just be trying to trick you into voting for Donald Trump. And since we're all more likely to spread signals that are new, surprising, or emotionally fraught, disinformation and rage move faster online than truth or beauty. But there's an upside. As Bak-Coleman and a bunch of his colleagues pointed out last year in a paper called "Stewardship of Global Collective Behavior," all those ideas circulating so widely and rapidly mean that one simple tweak could make a social network a lot more pleasant. All that's needed is to tap the brakes — to add a little bit more friction to the system, making it fractionally harder for any individual expression to go viral.In most high-functioning networks, signals start to degrade after just three or four degrees of separation. The lords and masters of Twitter or Facebook could set their systems so that when an idea threatens to infect the internet, circuit breakers close. Think of it like mask-wearing and ventilation, but for memes. Fresh ideas might take a little longer to spread. But the germs will get filtered out.The desire for a better filtering system may be why so many Twitter users are decamping to the newish social network Mastodon like ships fleeing a sinking rat. Mastodon's many servers (or "instances"), each with its own rules of behavior, make wideband communication slightly less easy than on Twitter. That adds up to a kind of "antivirality," as the tech writer Clive Thompson put it. The network disfavors speed and distance, which makes the overall experience more pleasant.But Musk isn't doing any of that. Yes, he figured out what Twitter is. But he failed to grasp how it operates, or why.The rules aren't simpleWhich brings us to a more familiar sentence: Elon Musk was wrong. Collectives emerge only when they follow simple rules laid out by physics and biology — when the group itself decides on a course of action. But social networks are built on rails, governed by algorithms, which interferes with the self-organizing. Musk doesn't seem to understand that Twitter can't turn into a collective cybergenius if he, the owner, won't let it have a mind of its own."Elon's tweet is basically espousing the invisible hand of social behavior," Bak-Coleman says. "We just connect everyone and the invisible hand of collective intelligence will usher in a utopia with free speech and no violence? That would maybe play well on Joe Rogan's podcast to a stoned listener, but it's no different than the claim that the economy will just work itself out."Like an economy, social networks have rules and regulations. And Twitter's current rules are designed to enhance conflict.Getty ImagesJust like an economy, a social network has rules and regulations. And the current rules deployed by Twitter and most of the other dominant social networks are designed to subtly enhance conflict. The thermostat is set a little high; the chairs are a little cramped. Why? Because all those algorithmic choices keep us clicking. "They drive up engagement and mine our attention to feed us ads, which we engage with and buy stuff, and that generates revenue for the site," Bak-Coleman says.No group can develop collective cognition if all its members are trolling one another. "A brain that's infighting and unable to come to a consensus would be unable to operate," says Iain Couzin, an expert in collective behavior who serves as the director of the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior at the University of Konstanz. "We do not have natural selection operating on Twitter, so the analogy fails. Facebook, Twitter — all the human social networks do not have that property."In this construction, a social network might have become a collective superintelligence, had capitalists left it to its — our? — own devices. But the algorithms and ads that make it profitable exclude the possibility of emergent collective cognition. They murder the superintelligence in its infancy, and in its place we get a dumb machine optimized to extract profit from our attention.Common senseThe truth is probably somewhere in between. Maybe Musk was right, but wrong about how he was right. A social network on algorithmic rails could be an emergent uberbrain and also be terrible, a cybernetic superintelligence that will be extremely hardcore in pursuit of profit.The nature of Twitter's superintelligence, like Musk's, remains a matter of faith.The science of collectivity suggests that social networks come in two flavors: kind and gentle, or profitable. Think of all the different approaches to social media: short video clips, long blog entries, short text, still pictures, moderated, unmoderated, anonymous, and so on. So far, all of the for-profit ones have ended up chaotic-evil. But even the foremost experts in the field will be the first to acknowledge they don't really know why that is, or how to fix it. "We have no idea what produces collective intelligence among humans, especially at large scales," says Duncan Watts, a computational social scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who has worked as a researcher at Yahoo and Microsoft. Finding some science to tame social networks would be great, of course — "a super important question, both for science and society," Watts says. "But it's so far removed from what most of social science has actually established that I'm not sure we know anything useful at all."Studying collectives is hard, y'all. When the networks are run by public companies and have 100 million users? Forget about it. "We have zero clue," Bak-Coleman concedes. "Well, not zero clue. But if Elon Musk decided that the current recommendation system is bad, let's say, and replaced it with a whole new system, and shared the code and data with scientists, and gave us a year and a half with it, we still couldn't tell you what that would do to democracy."Couzin says much the same. "It would be helpful if there was an openness about these algorithms," he says. "There's an interesting ethical aspect to the control, the subtle dials they have to control the information structure."So what did Musk do the minute he took over Twitter? He fired the team that studies this stuff and shares data with outside researchers. So the nature of Twitter's superintelligence, like Musk's, remains a matter of faith.We really are all in this together, alasThe single most tantalizing piece of evidence supporting the proposition that Twitter is a positive, uplifted, emergent superintelligence comes, perhaps ironically, from what looks to be its final act: the fact that so many people are leaving it.One of the most basic things a collective does is move, whether it's bacteria attacking a new organ or elephants walking to water. So the way everyone on Twitter seems to be trudging across the digital veldt toward Mastodon, Couzin says, "is a collective migration, sharing many of the hallmarks we see in animal networks."But not just any animal network. Specifically, we're all acting like honeybees looking for a new nest. When a hive breaks down, a honeybee swarm sends out scouts with the specs for a perfect nest encoded in their brains — things like size of entrance, location, square footage, and so on. Scouts are the realtors of the honeybee world. They find candidate locations and then fly back to the cluster of bees looking for a new home, where they argue their case. By dancing.Each scout's choreography encodes the direction and distance to the site it's touting. The better the site is, the longer and more vigorously the scout dances, recruiting other scouts and non-scout bees to its moves. The scene eventually turns into a whole-hive dance-off — "Step Up: The Swarm" — until only one team is left. All the bees align into a massive apiary Bollywood number that also teaches everyone the new nest's coordinates. Then they all buzz off.So: To bee or not to bee? Under Musk, Twitter has entered the dance-off phase. I probably spend too much time on there, but my experience of the past couple of weeks has been that of a bee watching the scouts return. Some groove toward Mastodon; others get down to Cohost. I have even picked up some new dance moves. I'll be sad if the Twitter superintelligence starts singing a Kubrickian cover of "Daisy" and implodes into a pile of melting isolinear chips. But I look forward to being part of a new collective, wherever we decide to locate our next hive-mind.The analogy isn't perfect, of course. And as the scientists are quick to point out, you can't equate people with insects. "Humans," Couzin says, "are much more intelligent than bees."Uh-huh. Sure we are.Adam Rogers is a senior correspondent at Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 21st, 2022

Dead Costco chickens produce piles of bones outside a Nebraska town. Residents complain about "smell of death"

People near Costco chicken barns reported the smell from dead poultry was "unbearable," and they were "disgusted" by piles of bones used for compost. Chicken bones from a Costco plant can be seen in compost spread across a farmer's field in Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Examiner.Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner Some Nebraska residents are complaining about discarded chicken parts from Costco's operations. There are at least 94 barns with nearly 450,000 chickens within a few miles of one town. Residents said the smell from discarded poultry was "unbearable," the Nebraska Examiner reported. Costco's chicken supplier is under fire from some Nebraska residents after poultry parts discarded from the area's barns — home to nearly 450,000 chickens — have been spread over fields as compost, the Nebraska Examiner reported Friday.The piles of bones are visible in fields around David City, Nebraska, which is about 80 miles west of Omaha, area residents told the Examiner. David City Mayor Alan Zavodny also expressed concern that composting operations were near the city's water wells, the Examiner reported.Bones and other discarded parts from dead chickens can be piled up at the chicken barns themselves, the Examiner reported, citing state laws. The piles can sit there as they turn into compost to potentially be sold to nearby farmers or to be otherwise disposed of. Nearby residents complained to the publication of the smell of those operations."It was just the smell of death," Greg Lanc, a farmer who lives within a mile of nearly 50 chicken barns, told the Examiner. He said he was "disgusted" at the chicken parts he could see from his home. Sam Barlean, another farmer in the area, called the smell "unbearable."The compositing operations followed state guidelines, the Examiner reported, but aside from the smell, residents complained of what happens to the compost after it gets moved off the site of the barns.The compost can be sold to farmers to be used as fertilizer: One of the farmers who bought the compost spread it over his fields, the Examiner reported, but an inspection by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy flagged that chicken bones were visible in the compost; a state inspector asked for additional soil to be placed on the visible bones, the Examiner reported.The area around David City is home to more than 440,000 chickens spread across 94 barns that supply chickens for Costco's chicken processing plant, Lincoln Premium Poultry. Butler County, where David City is located, lacks county zoning regulations that prevent concentrated industrial farms in other areas.Costco didn't respond to Insider's request for comment regarding chicken disposal. The company's animal welfare information page says "We are working toward a uniform program in the countries/regions where we operate, while respecting that each country may have its own regulatory and social requirements in place."Costco's chicken production line has been called into question before. In June 2022, two Costco shareholders filed a lawsuit in Washington accusing the company of knowingly breeding chickens too large to stand up, where "disabled birds slowly die from hunger, thirst, injury, and illness." Costco executives were named as defendants for allegedly ignoring reports of the abuse. Costco opened a massive chicken production plant in Fremont, Nebraska, in 2019. The membership club invested $450 million in the plant with plans to eventually scale up to processing 2 million chicken per week, up to 100 million per year.In 2021, Mercy for Animals visited Costco's chicken-processing facility and described conditions that included "chickens struggling to walk under their own unnatural weight," "bodies burned bare from ammonia-laden litter," "dead days-old chicks," and "piles of rotting birds."Rotisserie chickens remain a Costco staple. The company sold 106 million in 2021 and has publicly committed to keeping them priced at $4.99, below many of its competitors. The price has remained the same since 2009, even as costs of labor and production have increased. Costco takes a loss on the chickens, using them as a strategy to draw customers into stores, where Costco hopes they will buy other products with higher margins.Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytNov 19th, 2022

SJP Properties, Chesterfield, Manulife Investment Management and Atalaya Capital Management Celebrate Groundbreaking for First Phase of Georgia International Commerce Centre in Savannah

Savannah’s continued transformation into one of the most powerful trade hubs in the United States took a major step forward today with the news that SJP Properties broke ground on the first phase of construction of the Georgia International Commerce Centre (GICC), a 6.5 million-square-foot, Class A industrial facility comprising... The post SJP Properties, Chesterfield, Manulife Investment Management and Atalaya Capital Management Celebrate Groundbreaking for First Phase of Georgia International Commerce Centre in Savannah appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Savannah’s continued transformation into one of the most powerful trade hubs in the United States took a major step forward today with the news that SJP Properties broke ground on the first phase of construction of the Georgia International Commerce Centre (GICC), a 6.5 million-square-foot, Class A industrial facility comprising 12 buildings, with vertical construction of the first building, for which it is partnering with Manulife Investment Management, now underway. Signifying SJP’s largest land acquisition to date, the GICC is located on 809 acres of industrial land near the Port of Savannah, the most dynamic commerce center and the fastest-growing container port in the country, and is part of a joint venture with Chesterfield and Atalaya Capital Management. Conceptual plans for the GICC site call for 12 buildings ranging in size from 250,000 to 1,300,000 square feet, each with cross-dock, front-load or rear-load configurations. Spanning one million square feet, the first building is a Class A cross-dock facility that will feature 40-foot clear heights; 228 dock doors; four drive-in ramps; 273 trailer parking spots; a 185-foot-deep truck court; and car parking for roughly 190 employees. The building is set to be delivered in July 2023 and is available for lease. The site, which features direct access to public roadways, is ideally situated 2.5 miles from Interstate 16 — the primary route for transporting merchandise inland to Atlanta and points further north and west — and just 22.1 miles from the Georgia Port Authority. The GICC sits in close proximity to the recently announced Hyundai manufacturing facility, which will total over 16 million square feet and include an electric vehicle assembly plant and adjacent EV battery factory. The site is also conveniently located 18 miles from Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport.  “As the Southeast experiences explosive population growth and e-commerce continues to accelerate, the demand for state-of-the-art, large-scale distribution facilities has skyrocketed. We’ve spent the last four years studying industrial market fundamentals in the Southeast, and both this asset class and geographic area was a logical point of expansion for our organization’s development expertise,” said Steve Pozycki, CEO of SJP Properties. “The Port of Savannah serves as the conduit for the world’s manufactured goods to reach more than 75 million consumers, and yet, the surrounding region has a dearth of suitable sites that meet the needs of its end users. We’re proud to enter Savannah’s industrial sector and eager to bring the Georgia International Commerce Centre to life alongside Chesterfield, one of the region’s premier industrial developers.” “Chesterfield is excited to continue its industrial development in the Savannah area with its joint venture partners SJP Properties and Atalaya, each firm having established prominence over a long period in the real estate industry,” said Will Gardner, CEO of Chesterfield. Gardner expressed confidence in the growth of the Savannah industrial market, his firm having already completed over six million square feet of Class A industrial in Savannah over the last five years, with an additional approximately 4.5 million square feet of industrial now under construction. “Capitalizing the first building of GICC amidst the current market environment corroborates Atalaya’s three-fold thesis in the strength of sponsorship, market, and sector selection,” said Young Kwon, Head of Real Estate for Atalaya Capital Management. “Hyundai’s entry just minutes from our site further bolsters our Day 1 belief that the Interstate-16 Corridor presents the natural path of growth for the nation’s third-largest port in the years to come. We are excited and honored to contribute to Bryan County’s continued growth alongside world-class partners in SJP, Chesterfield, and now Manulife.”Located at the crossroads of the largest global trade flow between Asia, Europe and North America, the Port of Savannah is often the first port of call for ocean carrier services bringing imports to the East Coast from the Panama Canal, and is typically the last port of call for carriers exporting goods to Europe and Asia via the Suez Canal. The Port is home to the single-largest container facility in the country, along with two modern, deep-water terminals: Garden City Terminal and Ocean Terminal.  With direct access to Interstates 16 and 95, the Port of Savannah also has connectivity to cities such as Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville, along with critical manufacturing hubs throughout the Southeast and Midwest. The Port’s Mason Mega Rail project is the largest intermodal rail facility for a port authority in North America, offering 38 trains per week that handle import and export cargo for the CSX and Norfolk Southern rail service providers. The area is also home to Amazon’s newest 3.2-million-square-foot, multi-story distribution facility. Stephen Ezelle of Gilbert & Ezelle Inc., a regional non-owned affiliate of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., is serving as the exclusive leasing agent for the Georgia International Commerce Centre. For further information, please visit www.giccsavannah.com The post SJP Properties, Chesterfield, Manulife Investment Management and Atalaya Capital Management Celebrate Groundbreaking for First Phase of Georgia International Commerce Centre in Savannah appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyNov 16th, 2022

SmartCentres Real Estate Investment Trust Releases Third Quarter Results for 2022

Operational Shopping centre leasing activity continues to improve with occupancy levels, inclusive of committed deals, increasing to 98.1% in Q3 2022, representing a 50 basis point increase from Q2 2022 Same Properties NOI inclusive of ECL(1) increased by $3.9 million or 3.1% in Q3 2022 as compared to the same period in 2021. Same Properties NOI excluding ECL(1) increased by $3.0 million or 2.3% in Q3 2022 as compared to the same period in 2021 Net rental income and other increased by $3.6 million or 2.9% for the three months ended September 30, 2022 as compared to the same period in 2021 Mixed-use Development In excess of three million square feet of construction activity is currently underway, principally on high rise residential projects in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa Construction progressing on time and on budget on 241,000 square feet of industrial space for the 16-acre Phase 1 development in Pickering, of which 53% has already been pre-leased to a leading Canadian furniture retailer Construction of Transit City 4 & 5 condominium towers is in the final stages of completion with closings scheduled to commence in Q1 2023. All 1,026 units have been pre-sold Construction of the Millway, a 454-unit purpose-built rental apartment building, is also in the final stages of completion, with initial tenants expected to begin occupancy in Q1 2023 Financial FFO with adjustments and excluding impact of ECL, TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(1) was $93.8 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022, which remained virtually unchanged as compared to $93.9 million for the same period in 2021 Net income and comprehensive income was $3.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022, as compared to $178.1 million for the same period in 2021, representing a decrease of $174.6 million, which was primarily attributed to a $177.7 million decrease in fair value adjustments on revaluation of investment properties TORONTO, Nov. 11, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- SmartCentres Real Estate Investment Trust ("SmartCentres", the "Trust" or the "REIT") (TSX:SRU) is pleased to report its financial and operating results for the quarter ended September 30, 2022. "Customer traffic to our Walmart-anchored shopping centre portfolio continues to gain post-pandemic momentum which, in turn, is generating steadily increasing levels of leasing activity that began earlier in 2022," said Mitchell Goldhar, Executive Chairman and CEO of SmartCentres. "We anticipate that this trend will continue into 2023 and will have a positive impact on both our occupancy and earnings levels. We are pleased with the noticeable increase in leasing activity in the third quarter and the associated improvement in cash collections. Our development business is progressing well, with over 735,000 square feet (approximate) of municipal approvals received for residential and mixed-uses in this quarter alone. This brings 6,000,000 square feet of potential on-site growth so far this year. Current projects under construction include over 400,000 square feet of self-storage space across three properties, more than 1,000 condominium units and a further 174 townhomes, over 900 residential rental suites in three separate projects, and a further 413 seniors housing units. Construction has also commenced on a 241,000 square foot industrial project. We expect each of these projects to begin contributing to FFO(1) during 2023 or 2024. In the immediate term, the next two 45-storey and 50-storey condominium towers at Transit City are sold out and construction is progressing on time and on budget. Closings are expected to commence early in 2023. In addition, The Millway, a 454-unit, 36-storey rental tower, is also proceeding on time and on budget with initial occupancy and rent commencement expected to begin early in 2023. Also, the first phase of our Artwalk condominium project is sold out and construction is expected to commence by spring 2023. We are also pleased to confirm that we expect to publish our inaugural ESG report in the coming weeks. With respect to the changing economic conditions, we plan on applying discipline when assessing new opportunities for growth. Our focus remains on the long term, including the development of mixed-use projects on our strategically located shopping centre sites which will extract deeply embedded value wherever possible for many years to come," added Mr. Goldhar. (1)   Represents a non-GAAP measure. The Trust's method of calculating non-GAAP measures may differ from other reporting issuers' methods and, accordingly, may not be comparable. For additional information, please see "Non-GAAP Measures" in this Press Release.Key Business Development, Financial and Operational Highlights for the Three Months Ended September 30, 2022 Mixed-Use Development and Intensification at SmartVMC Park Place condo pre-development is underway on the 53.0 acre SmartVMC West lands strategically acquired in December 2021. Pre-sales for this development have commenced. The Trust's acquisition in December 2021 of a two-thirds interest in the SmartVMC West lands more than doubled the Trust's holdings in the 105 acre SmartVMC city centre development. Construction continues on budget on the 100% pre-sold Transit City 4 (45 storeys) and 5 (50 storeys) 1,026-suite condo towers. Concrete and formwork have been completed for both towers, with building envelope and interior finishes ongoing. Closings are expected to commence in early 2023. Construction of the purpose-built rental project, the Millway (36 storeys), continues at SmartVMC. Both formwork and concrete have been completed. Building envelope is ongoing with interior finishes underway. Initial occupancy and rent commencement are expected in spring 2023. ArtWalk condominium sales of 320 released units in Phase 1 are sold out (construction expected to begin early in 2023). Other Business Development The Trust completed the purchase of approximately 38 acres of industrial lands in Pickering, adjacent to Hwy 407, on which the Trust received approval to build 241,000 square feet of industrial space for the 16 acre Phase 1 development, of which 53% has already been pre-leased to a leading Canadian furniture retailer, with completion currently scheduled for 2023. Leasing continues on the completed first phase of the two-phase, purpose-built residential rental project in Laval, Quebec, with more than 99% of the 171 units rented. Construction continues on the next phase that commenced in October 2021, with a target completion date of Q2 2023. Initial occupancy and rent commencement in the two purpose-built residential rental towers (238 units) in Mascouche, Quebec began in July 2022. More than 130 units have been leased and current lease-up activity is in line with initial expectations. All of the five developed and operating self-storage facilities (Toronto (Leaside), Vaughan NW, Brampton, Oshawa South and Scarborough East) have been well-received by their local communities; current occupancy levels are ahead of expectations. Three self-storage facilities in Markham, Brampton (Kingspoint) and Aurora are currently under construction and on budget, with the latter two facilities expected to be completed in late 2022. Additional self-storage facilities have been approved by the Board of Trustees and the Trust is in the process of obtaining municipal approvals in Whitby, Stoney Creek and two locations in Toronto (Gilbert Ave. and Jane St.). In addition, the municipal approval process is underway in New Westminster and on a newly acquired property in Burnaby, British Columbia. Construction continues on a new retirement residence and a seniors' apartment project, totalling 402 units, at the Trust's Laurentian Place in Ottawa, with completion expected in Q1 2024. The Trust intends to commence the redevelopment of a portion of its 73 acre Cambridge retail property (which is subject to a leasehold interest with Penguin) which is now zoned for 12.0 million square feet of residential and commercial uses. Over the coming years, this high profile property will transform into a vibrant urban city center away from the GTA, but strategically within its orbit. The Trust, together with its partner, Penguin, have also commenced preliminary siteworks for the 215,000 square feet retail project on Laird Drive in Toronto, that is expected to feature a flagship 190,000 square foot Canadian Tire store together with 25,000 square feet of additional retail space. Canadian Tire is expected to take possession in 2024. Financial Net income and comprehensive income(1) was $3.5 million as compared to $178.1 million for the same period in 2021, representing a decrease of $174.6 million. This decrease was primarily attributed to: i) $177.7 million decrease in fair value adjustment on revaluation of investment properties; ii) $4.3 million increase in interest expense; iii) $2.3 million decrease in net operating income; iv) $2.2 million increase in general and administrative expenses (net); v) $0.6 million net income decrease relating to other items; and was partially offset by vi) $9.9 million increase in fair value adjustments on financial instruments; and vii) $2.7 million increase in interest income. The Trust increased its unsecured/secured debt ratio(2)(3) to 77%/23% (December 31, 2021 – 71%/29%). The Trust continues to add to its unencumbered pool of high-quality assets. As at September 30, 2022, this unencumbered portfolio consisted of investment properties valued at $8.4 billion (September 30, 2021 – $6.0 billion). The Trust's fixed rate/variable rate debt ratio(2)(3) was 83%/17% as at September 30, 2022 (December 31, 2021 – 89%/11%). FFO with adjustments excluding impact of ECL, TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2) was $93.8 million as compared to $93.9 million in the same period last year. During the quarter, 941,990 additional notional Units were added at a weighted average price of $27.42 per Unit to the Total Return Swap. Net income and comprehensive income per Unit(1) decreased by $1.01 or 98% to $0.02 as compared to the same period in 2021, primarily resulting from fair value adjustments on revaluation of investment properties in amount of $177.7 million or $0.99 per Unit. FFO with adjustments excluding impact of ECL, TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition per Unit(2) was $0.54, which remained the same as compared to the same period in 2021. Cash flows provided by operating activities(1) increased by $0.7 million or 0.7% to $97.0 million as compared to the same period in 2021. Surplus of cash flows provided by operating activities(1) over distributions declared amounted to $14.6 million (three months ended September 30, 2021 – surplus of $16.6 million). The Payout Ratio relating to cash flows provided by operating activities for the rolling 12 months ended September 30, 2022 was 86.6%, as compared to 96.8% for the same period ended September 30, 2021. The Payout Ratio relating to cash flows provided by operating activities for the rolling 24 months ended September 30, 2022 was 91.3%, as compared to 95.8% for the same period ended September 30, 2021. For the three months ended September 30, 2022, ACFO(2) decreased by $9.3 million or 10.3% to $81.1 million as compared to the same period in 2021. For the three months ended September 30, 2022, there was a shortfall of ACFO(2) over distributions declared of $1.3 million (three months ended September 30, 2021 – surplus of $10.7 million). The Payout Ratio to ACFO(2) for the rolling 12 months ended September 30, 2022 was 98.9%, as compared to 90.1% for the same period ended September 30, 2021. Excluding SmartVMC West LP Class D distributions, the Payout Ratio to ACFO(2) for the rolling 12 months ended September 30, 2022 was 96.7%, as compared to 90.1% for the same period ended September 30, 2021. The Payout Ratio to ACFO(2) for the rolling 24 months ended September 30, 2022 was 94.4%, as compared to 91.0% for the same period ended September 30, 2021. Excluding SmartVMC West LP Class D distributions, the Payout Ratio to ACFO(2) for the rolling 24 months ended September 30, 2022 was 93.3%, as compared to 91.0% for the same period ended September 30, 2021. Operational Rentals from investment properties and other(1) was $196.7 million, as compared to $195.2 million for the same period in 2021, representing an increase of $1.5 million or 0.8%, primarily due to the acquisition of an additional interest in investment properties in Q1 2022, higher rental income from Premium Outlets locations in both Toronto and Montreal, additional self-storage facility and parking rental revenue, and higher miscellaneous revenue. In-place and committed occupancy rates were 97.6% and 98.1%, respectively, as at September 30, 2022 (June 30, 2022 – 97.2% and 97.6%, respectively). Same Properties NOI inclusive of ECL(2) increased by $3.9 million or 3.1% as compared to the same period in 2021. Same Properties NOI excluding ECL(2) increased by $3.0 million or 2.3% as compared to the same period in 2021. Subsequent Event Subsequent to September 30, 2022, certain mortgages receivable with Penguin in the amount of $101.4 million were repaid in cash and the proceeds were primarily used to repay a portion of the balance outstanding on the Trust's revolving operating facility. (1)   Represents a GAAP measure(2)   Represents a non-GAAP measure. The Trust's method of calculating non-GAAP measures may differ from other reporting issuers' methods and, accordingly, may not be comparable. For additional information, please see "Non-GAAP Measures" in this Press Release.(3)   Net of cash-on-hand of $150.0 million as at September 30, 2022 for the purposes of calculating the applicable ratios. Selected Consolidated Operational, Mixed-Use Development and Financial Information Key consolidated operational, mixed-use development and financial information shown in the table below includes the Trust's proportionate share of equity accounted investments: (in thousands of dollars, except per Unit and other non-financial data) September 30, 2022   December 31, 2021   September 30, 2021   Portfolio Information             Number of retail properties 155   155   156   Number of office properties 4   4   4   Number of self-storage properties 6   6   5   Number of residential properties 1   1   1   Number of properties under development 19   17   15   Total number of properties with an ownership interest 185   183   181   Leasing and Operational Information(1)             Gross leasable retail and office area (in thousands of sq. ft.) 34,685   34,119   34,225   Occupied retail and office area (in thousands of sq. ft.) 33,843   33,219   33,312   Vacant retail and office area (in thousands of sq. ft.) 842   900   913   In-place occupancy rate (%) 97.6   97.4   97.3   Committed occupancy rate (%) 98.1   97.6   97.6   Average lease term to maturity (in years) 4.3   4.4   4.5   Net annualized retail rental rate (per occupied sq. ft.) ($) 15.52   15.44   15.40   Net annualized retail rental rate excluding Anchors (per occupied sq. ft.) ($) 22.40   22.07   21.91   Mixed-Use Development Information             Trust's share of future development area (in thousands of sq. ft.) 39,500   40,600   32,200   Trust's share of estimated costs of future projects currently under construction, or for which construction is expected to commence within the next five years (in millions of dollars) 9,800   9,800   7,700   Total number of residential rental projects 107   104   97   Total number of seniors' housing projects 25   27   39   Total number of self-storage projects 35   36   46   Total number of office building projects 8   8   7   Total number of hotel projects 3   3   4   Total number of condominium developments 89   95   73   Total number of townhome developments 8   10   15   Total number of estimated future projects currently in development planning stage 275   283   281   (in thousands of dollars, except per Unit and other non-financial data) September 30, 2022   December 31, 2021   September 30, 2021   Financial Information             Total assets – GAAP(2) 11,862,633   11,293,248   10,191,592   Total assets – non-GAAP(3)(4) 12,219,429   11,494,377   10,382,086   Investment properties – GAAP(2) 10,211,384   9,847,078   8,892,656   Investment properties – non-GAAP(3)(4) 11,135,415   10,684,529   9,623,548   Total unencumbered assets(3) 8,383,900   6,640,600   6,002,800   Debt – GAAP(2) 5,159,860   4,854,527   4,539,594   Debt – non-GAAP(3)(4) 5,410,319   4,983,078   4,647,648   Debt to Aggregate Assets (%)(3)(4)(5) 43.7   42.9   44.5   Debt to Gross Book Value (%)(3)(4)(5) 52.1   50.8   50.4   Unsecured to Secured Debt Ratio(3)(4)(5) 77%/23%   71%/29%   70%/30%   Unencumbered assets to unsecured debt(3)(4)(5) 2.1X   1.9X   1.9X   Weighted average interest rate (%)(3)(4) 3.67   3.11   3.25   Weighted average term of debt (in years) 4.2   4.8   5   Interest coverage ratio(3)(4)(5) 3.3X   3.4X   3.3X   Adjusted Debt to Adjusted EBITDA (net of cash)(3)(4)(5) 10.0X   9.2X   8.5X   Adjusted Debt to Adjusted EBITDA (net of cash and TRS)(3)(4)(5) 9.8X   9.1X   8.5X   Fixed Rate to Variable Rate Debt Ratio(3)(4)(5) 83%/17%    89%/11%   94%/6%   Equity (book value)(2) 6,141,317   5,841,315   5,268,176   Weighted average number of units outstanding – diluted 179,644,083   173,748,819   173,535,843   (1)   Excluding residential and self-storage area.(2)   Represents a GAAP measure.(3)   Represents a non-GAAP measure. The Trust's method of calculating non-GAAP measures may differ from other reporting issuers' methods and, accordingly, may not be comparable. For additional information, please see "Non-GAAP Measures" in this Press Release. (4)   Includes the Trust's proportionate share of equity accounted investments. (5)   As at September 30, 2022, cash-on-hand of $150.0 million was excluded for the purposes of calculating the applicable ratios (December 31, 2021 – $80.0 million, September 30, 2021 – $50.0 million). Quarterly Comparison to Prior Year The following table presents key financial, per Unit, and payout ratio information for the three months ended September 30, 2022 and September 30, 2021: (in thousands of dollars, except per Unit information) September 30, 2022   September 30, 2021   Variance     (A)   (B)   (A–B)   Financial Information             Rentals from investment properties and other(1) 196,678   195,171   1,507   Net base rent(1) 127,576   125,125   2,451   Total recoveries(1) 59,391   60,565   (1,174 ) Miscellaneous revenue(1) 4,683   4,573   110   Service and other revenues(1) 5,028   4,908   120   Net income and comprehensive income(1) 3,548   178,051   (174,503 ) Net income and comprehensive income excluding fair value adjustments(2)(3) 83,927   90,691   (6,764 ) Cash flows provided by operating activities(1) 97,011   96,298   713   Net rental income and other(1) 127,197   123,617   3,580   NOI from condominium and townhome closings and other adjustments(2) (244 ) 6,444   (6,688 ) NOI(2) 130,986   133,333   (2,347 ) Change in net rental income and other(2) 2.9 % 9.2 % (6.3 )% Change in SPNOI(2) 3.1 % 6.6 % (3.5 )% Change in SPNOI excluding ECL(2) 2.3 % (1.0 )% 3.3 %         FFO(2)(3)(4)(5) 88,403   97,887   (9,484 ) Other adjustments 669   1,706   (1,037 ) FFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) 89,072   99,593   (10,521 ) Adjusted for:       ECL (271 ) 670   (941 ) Loss (gain) on derivative – TRS 4,900   (392 ) 5,292   FFO sourced from condominium and townhome closings 216   (5,922 ) 6,138   FFO sourced from SmartVMC West acquisition (154 ) —   (154 ) FFO with adjustments excluding impact of ECL, TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) 93,763   93,949   (186 )         ACFO(2)(3)(4)(5) 81,060   90,342   (9,282 ) Other adjustments 669   1,706   (1,037 ) ACFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) 81,729   92,048   (10,319 ) Adjusted for:       Loss (gain) on derivative – TRS 4,900   (392 ) 5,292   ACFO sourced from condominium and townhome closings 244   (6,444 ) 6,688   ACFO sourced from SmartVMC West acquisition (154 ) —   (154 ) ACFO with adjustments excluding impact of TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) 86,719   85,212   1,507           Distributions declared 82,382   79,683   2,699   Surplus of cash provided by operating activities over distributions declared(2) 14,629   16,615   (1,986 ) (Shortfall) surplus of ACFO over distributions declared(2) (1,322 ) 10,659   (11,981 ) Surplus of ACFO with adjustments excluding impact of TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition over distributions declared(2) 4,337   5,529   (1,192 ) Units outstanding(6) 178,126,285   172,287,950   5,838,335   Weighted average – basic 178,123,918   172,285,503   5,838,415   Weighted average – diluted(7) 179,678,009   173,644,091   6,033,918   (in thousands of dollars, except per Unit information) September 30, 2022   September 30, 2021   Variance     (A)   (B)   (A–B)                 Per Unit Information (Basic/Diluted)             Net income and comprehensive income(1) $0.02/$0.02   $1.03/$1.03   $-1.01/$-1.01   Net income and comprehensive income excluding fair value adjustments(2)(3) $0.47/$0.47   $0.53/$0.52   $-0.06/$-0.05                 FFO(2)(3)(4)(5) $0.50/$0.49   $0.57/$0.56   $-0.07/$-0.07   Other adjustments $0.00/$0.01   $0.01/$0.01   $-0.01/$0.00   FFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) $0.50/$0.50   $0.58/$0.57   $-0.08/$-0.07   Adjusted for:             ECL(8) $0.00/$0.00   $0.00/$0.00   $0.00/$0.00   Loss (gain) on derivative – TRS $0.03/$0.03   $0.00/$0.00   $0.03/$0.03   FFO sourced from condominium and townhome closings $0.00/$0.00   $-0.03/$-0.03   $0.03/$0.03   FFO units impact from SmartVMC West LP Class D Units $0.01/$0.01   $0.00/$0.00   $0.01/$0.01   FFO with adjustments excluding impact of ECL, TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) $0.54/$0.54   $0.55/$0.54   $-0.01/$0.00                 Distributions declared $0.463   $0.463   $—                 Payout Ratio Information             Payout Ratio to cash flows provided by operating activities 84.9 % 82.7 % 2.2 % Payout Ratio to ACFO(2)(3)(4)(5) 101.6 % 88.2 % 13.4 % Payout Ratio to ACFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) 100.8 % 86.6 % 14.2 % Payout Ratio to ACFO with adjustments excluding impact of TRS, condominium and townhome sales, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) 91.9 % 93.5 % (1.6 )%               (1)   Represents a GAAP measure.(2)   Represents a non-GAAP measure. The Trust's method of calculating non-GAAP measures may differ from other reporting issuers' methods and, accordingly, may not be comparable. For additional information, please see "Non-GAAP Measures" in this Press Release. (3)   Includes the Trust's proportionate share of equity accounted investments. (4)   See "Non-GAAP Measures" in this Press Release for a reconciliation of these measures to the nearest consolidated financial statement measure. (5)   The calculation of the Trust's FFO and ACFO and related payout ratios, including comparative amounts, are financial metrics that were determined based on the REALpac White Paper on FFO issued in January 2022 and REALpac White Paper on ACFO issued in February 2019, respectively. Comparison with other reporting issuers may not be appropriate. The payout ratio to FFO and the payout ratio to ACFO are calculated as declared distributions divided by FFO and ACFO, respectively. (6)   Total Units outstanding include Trust Units and LP Units, including Units classified as liabilities. LP Units classified as equity in the consolidated financial statements are presented as non-controlling interests. (7)   The diluted weighted average includes the vested portion of the deferred units issued pursuant to the deferred unit plan.   (8)   The impact of ECL on FFO per Unit is less than $0.01 and therefore it is shown as $0.00 in the table above for the three months ended September 30, 2022. Year-to-Date Comparison to Prior Year The following table presents key financial, per Unit, and payout ratio information for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 and September 30, 2021: (in thousands of dollars, except per Unit information) September 30, 2022   September 30, 2021   Variance     (A)   (B)   (A–B)   Financial Information             Rentals from investment properties and other(1) 597,497   587,946   9,551   Net base rent(1) 380,082   369,955   10,127   Total recoveries(1) 196,896   196,342   554   Miscellaneous revenue(1) 10,414   10,412   2   Service and other revenues(1) 10,105   11,237   (1,132 ) Net income and comprehensive income(1) 535,655   335,595   200,060   Net income and comprehensive income excluding fair value adjustments(2)(3) 253,910   260,400   (6,490 ) Cash flows provided by operating activities(1) 243,800   237,950   5,850   Net rental income and other(1) 372,575   358,886   13,689   NOI from condominium and townhome closings and other adjustments(2) 496   20,538   (20,042 ) NOI(2) 384,888   388,405   (3,517 ) Change in net rental income and other(2) 3.8 % 4.7 % (0.9 )% Change in SPNOI(2) 3.3 % 3.4 % (0.1 )% Change in SPNOI excluding ECL(2) 5.5 % (2.1 )% 7.6 %         FFO(2)(3)(4)(5) 269,102   282,620   (13,518 ) Other adjustments 2,566   2,566   —   FFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) 271,668   285,186   (13,518 ) Adjusted for:       ECL (2,547 ) 5,251   (7,798 ) Loss (gain) on derivative – TRS 11,138   (1,462 ) 12,600   FFO sourced from condominium and townhome closings (860 ) (18,813 ) 17,953   FFO sourced from SmartVMC West acquisition (613 ) —   (613 ) FFO with adjustments excluding impact of ECL, TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) 278,786   270,162   8,624           FFO with adjustments and Transactional FFO(2)(3)(4) 271,668   286,773   (15,105 )         ACFO(2)(3)(4)(5) 247,085   269,743   (22,658 ) Other adjustments 2,566   2,566   —   ACFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) 249,651   272,309   (22,658 ) Adjusted for:       Loss (gain) on derivative – TRS 11,138   (1,462 ) 12,600   ACFO sourced from condominium and townhome closings (496 ) (20,538 ) 20,042   ACFO sourced from SmartVMC West acquisition (613 ) —   (613 ) ACFO with adjustments excluding impact of TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) 259,680   250,309   9,371           Distributions declared 247,145   239,028   8,117   Shortfall of cash flows provided by operating activities over distributions declared(2) (3,345 ) (1,078 ) (2,267 ) (Shortfall) surplus of ACFO over distributions declared(2) (60 ) 30,715   (30,775 ) Surplus of ACFO with adjustments excluding impact of TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition over distributions declared(2) 12,535   11,281   1,254   Units outstanding(6) 178,126,285   172,287,950   5,838,335   Weighted average – basic 178,118,504   172,266,602   5,851,902   Weighted average – diluted(7) 179,644,083   173,535,843   6,108,240   (in thousands of dollars, except per Unit information) September 30, 2022   September 30, 2021   Variance     (A)   (B)   (A–B)                 Per Unit Information (Basic/Diluted)             Net income and comprehensive income(1) $3.01/$2.98   $1.95/$1.93   $1.06/$1.05   Net income and comprehensive income excluding fair value adjustments(2)(3) $1.43/$1.41   $1.51/$1.50   $-0.08/$-0.09                 FFO(2)(3)(4)(5) $1.51/$1.50   $1.64/$1.63   $-0.13/$-0.13   Other adjustments $0.02/$0.01   $0.02/$0.01   $0.00/$0.00   FFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) $1.53/$1.51   $1.66/$1.64   $-0.13/$-0.13   Adjusted for:             ECL $-0.01/$-0.01   $0.03/$0.03   $-0.04/$-0.04   Loss (gain) on derivative – TRS $0.06/$0.06   $-0.01/$-0.01   $0.07/$0.07   FFO sourced from condominium and townhome closings $0.00/$0.00   $-0.11/$-0.10   $0.11/$0.10   FFO units impact from SmartVMC West LP Class D Units $0.04/$0.04   $0.00/$0.00   $0.04/$0.04   FFO with adjustments excluding impact of ECL, TRS, condominium and townhome closings, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) $1.62/$1.60   $1.57/$1.56   $0.05/$0.04                 FFO with adjustments and Transactional FFO(2)(3)(4) $1.53/$1.51   $1.66/$1.65   $-0.13/$-0.14   Distributions declared $1.39   $1.39   $—                 Payout Ratio Information             Payout Ratio to cash flows provided by operating activities 101.4 % 100.5 % 0.9 % Payout Ratio to ACFO(2)(3)(4)(5) 100.0 % 88.6 % 11.4 % Payout Ratio to ACFO with adjustments(2)(3)(4) 99.0 % 87.8 % 11.2 % Payout Ratio to ACFO with adjustments excluding impact of TRS, condominium and townhome sales, and SmartVMC West acquisition(2)(3)(4) 92.1 % 95.5 % (3.4 )%               (1)   Represents a GAAP measure.(2)   Represents a non-GAAP measure. The Trust's method of calculating non-GAAP measures may differ from other reporting issuers' methods and, accordingly, may not be comparable. For additional information, please see "Non-GAAP Measures" in this Press Release. (3)   Includes the Trust's proportionate share of equity accounted investments. (4)   See "Non-GAAP Measures" in this Press Release for a reconciliation of these measures to the nearest consolidated financial statement measure. (5)   The calculation of the Trust's FFO and ACFO and related payout ratios, including comparative amounts, are financial metrics that were determined based on the REALpac White Paper on FFO issued in January 2022 and REALpac White Paper on ACFO issued in February 2019, respectively. Comparison with other reporting issuers may not be appropriate. The payout ratio to FFO and the payout ratio to ACFO are calculated as declared distributions divided by FFO and ACFO, respectively. (6)   Total Units outstanding include Trust Units and LP Units, including Units classified as liabilities. LP Units classified as equity in the consolidated financial statements are presented as non-controlling interests. (7)   The diluted weighted average includes the vested portion of the deferred units issued pursuant to the deferred unit plan.    Operational Highlights For the three months ended September 30, 2022, net income and comprehensive income decreased by $174.5 million as compared to the same period in 2021. This decrease was primarily attributed to the following: $177.7 million decrease in fair value adjustments on revaluation of investment properties (see details in the "Investment Property" section in the Trust's MD&A); $4.3 million increase in interest expense (see further details in the "Interest Income and Interest Expense" subsection in the Trust's MD&A); $2.3 million decrease in NOI (see further details in the "Net Operating Income" subsection in the Trust's MD&A); $2.2 million increase in general and administrative expenses (net) (see further details in the "General and Administrative Expense" section in the Trust's MD&A); $0.5 million higher loss on sale of investment properties; and $0.1 million increase in supplemental costs; Partially offset by the following: $9.9 million increase in fair value adjustment on financial instruments primarily due to: i) $12.8 million higher fair value gains on those Units classified as liabilities due to fluctuation in the Trust's Unit price, ii) $3.9 million higher fair value gains relating to unit-based incentive programs due to fluctuation in the Trust's Unit price, and partially offset by: iii) $5.3 million higher fair value loss of TRS due to fluctuation in the Trust's Unit price, and iv) $1.5 million decrease in fair value adjustments of interest rate swap agreements (see further details in the "Debt" subsection in the Trust's MD&A); and $2.7 million increase in interest income mainly due to higher interest rates. For the nine months ended September 30, 2022, net income and comprehensive income increased by $200.1 million as compared to the same period in 2021. This increase was primarily attributed to the following: $114.6 million increase in fair value adjustment on financial instruments primarily due to: i) $63.1 million higher fair value gains on those Units classified as liabilities due to fluctuation in the Trust's Unit price, ii) $40.6 million increase in fair value adjustments pertaining to interest rate swap agreements (see further details in the "Debt" subsection in the Trust's MD&A), iii) $23.5 million higher fair value gains relating to unit-based incentive programs also due to fluctuation in the Trust's Unit price, and partially offset by: iv) $12.6 million higher fair value loss on the TRS due to fluctuation in the Trust's Unit price; $92.0 million increase in fair value adjustments on revaluation of investment properties, of which: i) $237.7 million increase relates to the fair value adjustment associated with certain properties under development, ii) $251.2 million decrease relates to cap rate changes, iii) $14.2 million increase relates to gain from acquisition, and iv) $91.3 million increase relates to the revaluation of investment properties, principally driven by leasing and assumption updates (see details in the "Investment Property" section in the Trust's MD&A); $1.9 million increase in interest income mainly due to higher interest rates; and $0.7 million decrease in interest expense (see further details in the "Interest Income and Interest Expense" section in the Trust's MD&A); Partially offset by the following: $3.5 million decrease in NOI (see further details in the "Net Operating Income" subsection in the Trust's MD&A); $2.4 million increase in supplemental costs; $2.3 million increase in general and administrative expenses (net) (see further details in the "General and Administrative Expense" section in the Trust's MD&A); $0.5 million higher loss on sale of investment properties; and $0.3 million increase in acquisition-related costs. Development and Intensification SummaryThe following table summarizes the 275 identified mixed-use, recurring rental income and development income initiatives, which are included in the Trust's large development pipeline:   Underway   Active   Future       Description (Construction underway or expected to commence within next 2 years)   (Construction expected to commence within next 3–5 years)   (Construction expected to commence after 5 years)   Total   Number of projects in which the Trust has an ownership interest                 Residential Rental 29   20   58   107   Seniors' Housing 4   8   13   25   Self-storage 12   7   16   35   Office Buildings —   1   7   8   Hotels —   —   3   3   Subtotal – Recurring rental income initiatives 45   36   97   178   Condominium developments 23   20   46   89   Townhome developments 2   1   5   8   Subtotal – Development income initiatives 25   21   51   97   Total 70   57   148   275   Trust's share of project area (in thousands of sq. ft.)                 Recurring rental income initiatives 5,600   3,900.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaNov 11th, 2022

Matrix Service Company Reports First Quarter Fiscal 2023 Results

TULSA, Okla., Nov. 07, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Matrix Service Company (NASDAQ:MTRX), a leading contractor to the energy and industrial markets across North America, today reported financial results for its first quarter of fiscal 2023. Key highlights: First quarter revenue of $208.4 million, an increase of 24% compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2022 and a 4% increase compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022 Project awards in the quarter of $234.6 million, a 20% increase compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, resulting in a book-to-bill of 1.1 for the quarter; backlog increased to $615.7 million Additional notable project awards subsequent to the end of the quarter, include a recently announced LNG peak shaving upgrade project as well as a large-scale specialty vessel Adjusted EBITDA of $0.8 million(1) for the first quarter of fiscal 2023 on improving margins, an increase from $(12.0) million in the prior quarter Loss per share of $0.24; adjusted loss per share of $0.15(1) excluding one-time items "Our first quarter results demonstrate the improving performance of our business," said Matrix Service Company President and CEO John R. Hewitt. "Project awards in the quarter were the second highest we have achieved in the last eight quarters, and backlog is the highest it has been in more than two years. This backlog momentum, which is characterized by incremental larger capital awards, will result in continued improvement in revenue, gross margins, and earnings per share as we move through this fiscal year.   The quality and commitment of our people, the benefits provided by our streamlined organization, and the growing number of quality projects in our opportunity pipeline gives us confidence in our ability to deliver improving earnings throughout the fiscal year and beyond." Earnings Summary Revenue in the first quarter of fiscal 2023 was $208.4 million, an increase of $7.7 million compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022 revenue of $200.7 million. Gross margin was 6.2% in the first quarter of fiscal 2023 vs. 0.4% in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022. Improved gross margins were the result of strong execution on an improving project mix and higher recovery of construction overhead costs. In the Storage and Terminals Solutions segment, gross margin of 9.8% for the quarter was primarily the result of strong execution across the storage business, including projects supporting lower carbon investments, partially offset by under recovered overhead costs. In the Process and Industrial Facilities segment, first quarter gross margin of 5.0% improved but was negatively impacted by under recovered overhead costs and work on a midstream gas processing project that experienced increases in forecasted costs to complete in the prior year, which reduced the remaining margin realized on the project. In the Utility and Power Infrastructure segment, first quarter gross margin was 3.8%, also due to under recovered overhead costs and work on a large capital project that experienced increases in forecasted costs to complete in the prior year, which reduced the remaining margin realized on the project. We had $1.3 million of restructuring costs during the quarter, which primarily related to severance costs as we continued to implement our previously announced business improvement plan. The current phase of our plan is focused on the consolidation of transactional services, procedures and operational talent to increase our efficiency, competitiveness and profitability. Our effective tax rates for the three months ended September 30, 2022 and 2021 were 0.0% and 23.1%, respectively. The effective tax rate during the first quarter of fiscal 2023 was impacted by the full valuation allowance placed on our deferred tax assets in fiscal 2022 due to the existence of a cumulative loss over a three-year period. As a result, we expect the effective tax rate to be around zero throughout the fiscal year. For the three months ended September 30, 2022, we had a net loss of $6.5 million, or $0.24 per share, compared to a net loss of $17.5 million, or $0.66 per share, in the three months ended September 30, 2021. For the three months ended September 30, 2022, we had an adjusted net loss of $4.2 million, or $0.15 per share, compared to an adjusted net loss of $16.0 million, or $0.60 per share, in the same period last year. Backlog Our backlog as of September 30, 2022 was $615.7 million. Project awards totaled $234.6 million during the three months ended September 30, 2022, leading to a book-to-bill ratio of 1.1. On a segment basis, the first quarter book-to-bill was 0.9 for Utility and Power Infrastructure, driven largely by bookings in electrical infrastructure. For Process and Industrial Facilities, the book-to-bill was 0.7. For Storage and Terminal Solutions, the quarterly book-to-bill was 1.7 led by a key award for a large-scale specialty vessel. The table below summarizes our awards, book-to-bill ratios and backlog by segment for our first fiscal quarter (amounts are in thousands, except for book-to-bill ratios):     Three Months Ended September 30, 2022   Backlog as of  Segment:   Awards   Book-to-Bill(1)   September 30, 2022 Utility and Power Infrastructure   $         42,618                   0.9           $         99,807         Process and Industrial Facilities             59,982                   0.7                     265,641         Storage and Terminal Solutions             132,028                   1.7                     250,209         Total   $         234,628                   1.1           $         615,657         _______________(1)   Calculated by dividing project awards by revenue recognized during the period. Subsequent to the end of the quarter, during the month of October, the Company has already been awarded greater than $150 million in additional projects, including a recently announced upgrade to a LNG peak shaving facility and a large specialty vessel project. Bidding activity is strong, and while the timing of project awards can fluctuate, we expect the trend of improving backlog to continue. Financial Position At September 30, 2022, we had total liquidity of $56.6 million and $15 million in debt.   Liquidity is comprised of $14.3 million of unrestricted cash and cash equivalents and $42.3 million of borrowing availability under the ABL Facility.   The Company also has $25.0 million of restricted cash to support the ABL Facility.   As a result of rising revenue volumes, especially for cost-reimbursable and maintenance-type work, our investment in working capital has increased during the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which is the primary driver of the decrease in liquidity since June 30, 2022. The Company expects its liquidity position to improve sequentially throughout the remainder of fiscal 2023. (1)Non-GAAP Financial Measure Adjusted loss and adjusted loss per share are non-GAAP financial measures which exclude the financial impact of a valuation allowance placed on our deferred tax assets, the accelerated amortization of deferred debt amendment fees associated with the prior credit agreement and restructuring costs. Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure which excludes restructuring costs, stock-based compensation, interest expense, provision for income taxes and depreciation and amortization expense. See the Non-GAAP Financial Measures section included at the end of this release for a reconciliation to net loss and net loss per share. Conference Call Details In conjunction with the earnings release, Matrix Service Company will host a conference call / webcast with John R. Hewitt, President and CEO, and Kevin S. Cavanah, Vice President and CFO. The call will take place at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern) / 9:30 a.m. (Central) on Tuesday, November 8, 2022 and will be simultaneously broadcast live over the Internet which can be accessed at our website at matrixservicecompany.com under Investor Relations, Events and Presentations. Please allow extra time prior to the call to visit the site and download the streaming media software required to listen to the Internet broadcast. The conference call will be recorded and will be available for replay within one hour of completion of the live call and can be accessed following the same link as the live call. Dial in - Toll-Free 1-888-660-6127 Dial in - Toll 1-973-890-8355 Audience Passcode 8678241 About Matrix Service Company Matrix Service Company (NASDAQ:MTRX), through its subsidiaries, is a leading North American industrial engineering and construction contractor headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma with offices located throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Sydney, Australia and Seoul, South Korea. The Company reports its financial results in three key operating segments: Utility and Power Infrastructure, Process and Industrial Facilities, and Storage and Terminal Solutions. With a focus on sustainability, building strong Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) practices, and living our core values, Matrix ranks among the Top Contractors by Engineering-News Record, was recognized for its Board diversification, is an active signatory to CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, and is consistently recognized as a Great Place to Work®. To learn more about Matrix Service Company, visit matrixservicecompany.com and read our inaugural Sustainability Report. This release contains forward-looking statements that are made in reliance upon the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are generally accompanied by words such as "anticipate," "continues," "expect," "forecast," "outlook," "believe," "estimate," "should" and "will" and words of similar effect that convey future meaning, concerning the Company's operations, economic performance and management's best judgment as to what may occur in the future. Future events involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those we currently anticipate. The actual results for the current and future periods and other corporate developments will depend upon a number of economic, competitive and other influences, including the successful implementation of the Company's business improvement plan and the factors discussed in the "Risk Factors" and "Forward Looking Statements" sections and elsewhere in the Company's reports and filings made from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Many of these risks and uncertainties are beyond the control of the Company, and any one of which, or a combination of which, could materially and adversely affect the results of the Company's operations and its financial condition. We undertake no obligation to update information contained in this release, except as required by law. For more information, please contact: Kevin S. CavanahVice President and CFOT: 918-838-8822Email:kcavanah@matrixservicecompany.com Kellie SmytheSenior Director, Investor RelationsT: 918-359-8267Email: ksmythe@matrixservicecompany.com   Matrix Service CompanyCondensed Consolidated Statements of Income(unaudited)(In thousands, except per share data)           Three Months Ended     September 30,2022   September 30,2021 Revenue   $ 208,431     $ 168,093   Cost of revenue     195,423       171,601   Gross profit (loss)     13,008       (3,508 ) Selling, general and administrative expenses     16,811       16,629   Restructuring costs     1,287       605   Operating loss     (5,090 )     (20,742 ) Other income (expense):         Interest expense     (372 )     (1,999 ) Interest income     24       21   Other     (1,074 )     (83 ) Loss before income tax benefit     (6,512 )     (22,803 ) Benefit for federal, state and foreign income taxes     —       (5,265 ) Net loss   $ (6,512 )   $ (17,538 )           Basic loss per common share   $ (0.24 )   $ (0.66 ) Diluted loss per common share   $ (0.24 )   $ (0.66 ) Weighted average common shares outstanding:         Basic     26,862       26,611   Diluted     26,862       26,611                     Matrix Service CompanyCondensed Consolidated Balance Sheets(unaudited)(In thousands)     September 30,2022   June 30,2022 Assets       Current assets:       Cash and cash equivalents $ 14,342   $ 52,371 Accounts receivable, less allowances (September 30, 2022—$1,222 and June 30, 2022—$1,320)   149,345     153,879 Costs and estimated earnings in excess of billings on uncompleted contracts   59,609     44,752 Inventories   8,379     9,974 Income taxes receivable   13,546     13,547 Prepaid expenses   9,833  .....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaNov 7th, 2022

How One Small Business Found Sweet Success During the Pandemic

"The story of small business has always been one of survival," writes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Rilvin. The three brothers gathered in their Bronx living room to talk through their options. It was approaching midnight at the end of another long day. They had devoted all of themselves to Sol Cacao, the chocolate bar business they had founded five years earlier. Now, on a May night in 2020, two months into the pandemic, they were at a loss. They went around the room, and none of them had anything positive to report. “No one is reordering,” said Dominic Maloney. The oldest of the three brothers, he has a round face, a shaved head, and the most growly New York City accent of the three. He was 30 at the time of COVID. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “No one is paying any invoices,” said Daniel Maloney. The businesses that were selling their bars—specialty stores, mainly, cheese shops and gift stores and other small retailers—were themselves in dire straits and holding on to what little money they might have. Daniel, the youngest, was twenty-seven and wore his hair in twists. The most talkative of the three, he served as the company’s de facto company spokesperson. Sol Cacao had bills of their own that needed paying, including the rent. “The landlord gave us no relief,” said Nicholas Maloney, the middle brother. Like both his older and younger brother, he has an open, friendly face and a quick smile. He sometimes leaned back and closed his eyes when talking, or held his hands together as if in prayer to say thank you. “He’s the spiritual one,” his brothers said teasingly. The three brothers talked about giving up. They shared an apartment in a part of New York City that had been hard-hit by COVID-19. The wail of ambulances in the background was a constant. Their cash reserves were gone, and their store of beans—the cacao beans they needed to make their chocolate bars—had been depleted. And even if the next day they received a shipment that was already several weeks overdue, they had almost no orders to refill. June’s rent was due in a few weeks. They were three young Black men raised by immigrant parents. They didn’t have much in the way of resources to fall back on, and sympathy in the U.S. wasn’t exactly high for three men of color who had been born somewhere else. The high-quality chocolate market was expanding, much like coffee and wine before it, and since 2015, the Maloneys had been fighting for their share. Yet, now, it was not a global giant like a Nestlé or Hershey that was doing them in, or one of the white-owned chocolate bar companies that seemed to have the connections and access to resources that they did not. Instead, it was a microscopic virus. *** The story of small business has always been one of survival. Technology evolves, tastes change, markets shift, new competitors emerge. Technology rendered blacksmiths and buggy makers obsolete, and later video rental stores and 24-hour photo shops. Neighborhoods morph, causing closures. Recessions wipe out businesses that had been limping through good times. Survival has gotten only harder in recent decades. Walmart and other big-box stores popped up on the edge of Main Streets around the country. Chains continue to chew up entire sectors of the economy. Private equity firms and other deep-pocketed investors with national or global ambitions hired teams of MBAs to implement just-in-time inventory management systems and other efficiencies at their restaurants, retail outlets, or manufacturing plants, driving down prices. The internet created opportunities for entrepreneurs but also represented a whole new category of threat. Read more: Tech Stocks Are Falling. That’s A Bad Sign For The Economy Meanwhile, the rent a small business paid soared along with insurance premiums and the price of practically everything, including the price of the cacao beans the Maloney brothers buy on the global market. Add globalization to the list of challenges confronting small business owners. Giant chocolate makers rely on what in the in the trade is called “bulk” cacao beans: cheaper, lower-quality beans from various farms typically grown on industrial farms in West Africa. Sol Cacao specializes in “origin” bars, made using beans from a single locale. Just like wine producers, the Maloneys speak of terroir, and regional distinctions for their bars from Madagascar, Ecuador, and Peru. They were part of the broader farm-to-table movement, where traceability and a respect for those growing the food, is central. They followed fair-trade practices. But that also helped to explain how Big Chocolate could sell its bars at around half the price as theirs. COVID added new stresses unique to each business. A great strength of Vilma’s Beauty Salon in the small city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was that it had always been a communal and intimate space. But in the pandemic, that became the biggest liability shop owner Vilma Hernandez. Her employees hovered over customers at the shampoo bowl. She and the other stylists leaned into faces while cutting and styling their hair. Hernandez had eight people working for her in March of 2020 but her once-crowded shop left them with little to do. The governor’s shutdown order, when it came, was largely superfluous. “People were scared,” she said. “I was scared.” The central threat to Sol Cacao’s business was the severe limits on in-person encounters “Traditionally, most of our money came from demos and in-store efforts,” Dominic said. “Any place we got to tell our story in person.” They manned tables at festivals and farmers’ markets and other large public events and did in-store tastings. “That’s how we got reorders,” Daniel said. There was never any question Sol Cacao could continue operations through Covid. As food producers, they were deemed essential. But demos and in-person events would be discontinued indefinitely. The Maloneys liked to say chocolate ran through their blood. Their great grandparents grew cacao beans in Trinidad and Tobago, where the three were born, as did their grandparents. Chocolate began as way for them to connect with their heritage but, steeped in the craft, they became evangelists for the curative properties of high-quality dark chocolates. For them, making and selling their bars became a calling. Chocolate as an everyday ritual was a healthy pleasure, they argued, if not a way of being. They also saw themselves as building Sol Cacao not just for themselves but for their adopted borough, if not black entrepreneurship itself. “We didn’t want to be a statistic, another black-owned business that closed down,” Daniel said. Yet that May, late at night in the apartment the three shared, their prospects felt dire. One in three small businesses in the U.S. shutters its doors before celebrating a second anniversary. Half close within five years of opening. Seventy percent are dead within a decade. The three bothers couldn’t even count on help from PPP, the program the government established to help small businesses survive the pandemic. It was the Paycheck Protection Program – but Sol Cacao had no payroll. “We had to face reality,” Daniel said. “And the realities of what the numbers were telling us was not good.” * * * It’s never a good time for a pandemic. But from the perspective of a modest-sized chocolate maker, this one could hardly have come at a worse time. The lockdown killed their Easter and Mother’s Day, which are two prime holidays in the industry. “Once you’re past Mother’s Day, the bikini effect takes over,” Daniel explained. “May comes and everyone’s like, ‘Oh, chocolate’s bad, it’s gonna make me gain weight.’” There was also the more practical issue that bars melt in the heat and can make a mess. Summers had always been about keeping the business alive until September. With no opportunity to offer in-store samples, 2020 seemed destined to go down as their toughest, if not their last. “I’m posting on social media more than I’ve ever posted,” Daniel said. “I’m reaching out to people, calling people, doing everything I can.” He set a target of at least $100 in sales a day, yet there were many days they did not come close to meeting even this modest goal. “I’m working harder than ever to get the word out,” Daniel said, “and that would translate into three bars sold that day.” They temporarily lowered the price of a bar to $5.99, figuring people were strapped for cash, but that just meant earning less on the few orders that came in. Then, on May 25, George Floyd was arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. Two members of the Minneapolis police force pinned down the forty-six-year-old Floyd’s back and legs, while a third officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Floyd repeated, “I can’t breathe,” at least sixteen times before he lost consciousness and died. The horrific video of George Floyd’s murder sparked protests around the country, along with a racial reckoning and a push for racial justice that would help a small black-owned chocolate maker struggling to make it in an industry dominated by whites. The “George Floyd effect,” as Daniel called it, saved Sol Cacao. “After George Floyd, there was this move to support local black businesses,” he said. “For the first time, we got visibility and had people—I mean, people we would never even imagine—reaching out to us and supporting us.” Bloggers and others who wrote about chocolate were among those contacting the Maloneys. People of color generally were the workers who planted and harvested the planet’s cacao beans, which grow in tropical climates. But the owners were overwhelmingly white. The Maloneys were featured in an article in Eater ran about “chocolate makers decolonizing the industry.” New York Makers, an online magazine, spotlighted their bespoke approach to producing chocolate. A local news site profiled the bean-to-bar makers behind the Bronx’s first chocolate factory. “We had been telling our story for five years,” Dominic said. “And finally people were listening,” Nicholas said, finishing his brother’s thought. The surprise for the Maloneys was that the horror of Floyd’s death was so deeply shared (a poll in June 2020 showed that 71 percent of white Americans agreed that racial discrimination was a “big problem”). The resulting racial reckoning meant the country, or at least many (Trump spent much of the summer decrying the “mobs” that had taken over the country’s biggest cities), were looking more deeply at institutional racism and the wide range of privileges whites blindly enjoyed at the expense of people of color. Many tried to do their small part by buying the Maloneys’ chocolate bars. Stores the Maloneys had contacted in the past got in touch with them. Others cold-called Sol Cacao—something that had never happened in its first half-dozen years. Normally, discussions with a store stretched on for months, but a couple put in an order shortly after first contact. The nimble entrepreneur through COVID increased his or her chances of survival. Cusumano’s is an upscale Italian restaurant just outside of Scranton that was able to stay in business because of the creativity of chef-owner TJ Cusumano. A state-ordered shutdown in March of 2020 meant his dining room remained closed for nearly three months. He could do take out, but his food was meant to be eaten hot on a plate, not soggy in a bag. Cusumano implemented Taco Tuesdays, and watched YouTube instructional videos to learn the finer points of barbecue. “The idea was good old Southern barbecue here in northern Pennsylvania,” TJ said. Both helped the restaurant cover its monthly bills. Sol Cacao stayed alive by pivoting to online sales. Individuals had always had the option of buying directly through the Sol Cacao website, but online purchases had never amounted to more than 10 percent of their sales. Almost all of their revenue came from sales to stores. That summer, though, online orders equaled half their revenues. Much of the rest were the corporate sales the Maloneys ramped up to cater to businesses interested in buying their bars for their customers or employees. The globe was suffering, and chocolate seemed a way for people to show they cared. One large corporation hired the brothers to do a virtual tasting for its sustainability department, which led to more jobs like it. “People were looking to get outside their confined space and find different things for team-building,” Daniel said. “You could definitely see the human spirit play out in terms of gifting,” Daniel said. “We’re getting a lot of notes saying, ‘Hey, I want to send bars to my colleagues who have been there for me,’ ‘I want to send these to someone to say thank you for support through hard times.’” The Maloneys braced for an end to the special attention accorded many black businesses in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder. The attention and heightened sense of justice was decades overdue, but they also recognized that there might be a kind of half-life to people’s attention span. For the moment, though, the three brothers were pleased. Their sales between May and September of 2020 were three times what they had been one year earlier. “The summer saved the company,” Daniel said. Added Dominic, “That gave us hope that we could get back on track in the fall.” * * * That December proved the best in the company’s history. They were along by Martha Stewart Living magazine, which had included Sol Cacao in a feature about “20 Chocolate Bars Perfect for Gifting.” Their repeat orders in the early months of 2021 were especially gratifying. “We always knew that we were making some of the best chocolate,” Dominic Maloney said. “But now it was recognition from a much larger audience.” More good things happened for the Maloneys in 2021.They received $10,000 from BeyGood, a small business Small Business Impact Fund created by the NAACP and the singer Beyoncé, to help black- owned businesses in five cities, including New York. A short time later, Amazon gave the company a $10,000 small business grant. For a moment, the brothers played their small part in Amazon’s well-funded efforts to cast itself as a friend of small business. They used the two grants to increase manufacturing capacity. Nearly three years into the pandemic, the Maloneys continue to thrive. Individual and corporate sales remain strong, and retail had picked up again as an outlet for its bars. Sol Cacao had even started selling in select Target stores. Mainly the three brothers felt fortunate that they still had a company to run. That’s a mantra voiced by a lot of small business owners who in the spring of 2020 were frightened that the pandemic would mean the end of their dream: They had survived. “We’re here and we’re still selling and still growing the business,” said Daniel Maloney. “And I consider that a big victory.” Adapted from SAVING MAIN STREET by Gary Rivlin, published by Harper Business, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © 2022 by Gary Rivlin......»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 2nd, 2022

NorthEast Community Bancorp, Inc. Reports Results for the Three and Nine Months Ended September 30, 2022

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NorthEast Community Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:NECB) (the "Company"), the parent holding company of NorthEast Community Bank (the "Bank"), reported net income of $7.5 million and $16.6 million, or $0.49 and $1.07 per basic and diluted common share, for the three months and nine months ended September 30, 2022 compared to net income of $730,000 and $7.7 million, or $0.05 and $0.48 per basic and diluted common share, for the three months and nine months ended September 30, 2021. Kenneth A. Martinek, NorthEast Community Bancorp's Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, stated "We are pleased to report another quarter of strong earnings due to the strong performance of our loan portfolio.   Despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the recent increase in interest rates, loan demand remained strong with originations and outstanding commitments increasing quarter over quarter. Our commitments, loans-in-process, and standby letters of credit outstanding totaled $1.1 billion at September 30, 2022 compared to $749.0 million at December 31, 2021. The performance of our loan portfolio remains strong with no non-accrual loans and one fully charged-off loan which was previously disclosed and remains in foreclosure at September 30, 2022. At this time, we have no loans on deferral as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As has been in the past, construction lending for affordable housing units in high demand-high absorption areas continues to be our focus." Highlights for the three months and nine months ended September 30, 2022 are as follows: Net income increased by $6.8 million and $8.9 million, or 933.2% and 115.4%, for the three months and nine months ended September 30, 2022 compared to the same periods in the prior year. Net interest income increased by $6.6 million and $11.3 million, or 60.0% and 35.7%, for the three months and nine months ended September 30, 2022 compared to the same periods in 2021. Asset quality metrics continued to remain strong with non-performing assets to total assets of 0.14% and 0.16% at September 30, 2022 and at December 31, 2021. Our allowance for loan losses totaled $5.5 million, or 0.49% of total loans at September 30, 2022 compared to $5.2 million, or 0.54% of total loans at December 31, 2021. Balance Sheet SummaryTotal assets increased by $59.8 million, or 4.9%, to $1.3 billion at September 30, 2022, from $1.2 billion at December 31, 2021. The increase in assets was primarily due to increases in net loans of $144.4 million, securities held-to-maturity of $8.9 million, premises and equipment of $2.4 million, and accrued interest receivable of $2.4 million, partially offset by decreases in cash and cash equivalents of $97.3 million and equity securities of $1.6 million. Cash and cash equivalents decreased by $97.3 million, or 63.9%, to $54.9 million at September 30, 2022 from $152.3 million at December 31, 2021. The decrease in cash and cash equivalents was a result of cash being deployed to fund an increase in net loans of $144.4 million, an increase in securities held-to-maturity of $8.9 million, an increase in property and equipment of $2.4 million due primarily to the purchase of property and equipment for a new branch office, and a reduction in FHLB advances of $7.0 million. Equity securities decreased by $1.6 million, or 8.2%, to $18.3 million at September 30, 2022 from $19.9 million at December 31, 2021. The decrease in equity securities was primarily attributable to market depreciation of $1.6 million as market interest rates increased during the nine months ended September 30, 2022. Securities held-to-maturity increased by $8.9 million, or 49.5%, to $26.7 million at September 30, 2022 from $17.9 million at December 31, 2021 due primarily to the purchases of securities, partially offset by maturities and pay-downs. Loans, net of the allowance for loan losses, increased by $144.4 million, or 14.9%, to $1.1 billion at September 30, 2022 from $968.1 million at December 31, 2021.   The increase in loans, net of the allowance for loan losses, was primarily due to loan originations of $499.2 million during the nine months ended September 30, 2022, consisting primarily of $425.1 million in construction loans with respect to which approximately 45.6% of the funds were disbursed at loan closings, with the remaining funds to be disbursed over the terms of the construction loans.   Loan originations resulted in a net increase of $178.6 million in construction loans, $4.0 million in multi-family loans, and $754,000 in consumer loans. The increase in our loan portfolio was partially offset by decreases in non-residential loans of $24.4 million, commercial and industrial loans of $7.0 million, mixed-use loans of $5.9 million, and residential loans of $1.5 million, coupled with normal pay-downs and principal reductions. Premises and equipment increased by $2.4 million, or 10.2%, to $26.3 million at September 30, 2022 from $23.9 million at December 31, 2021 due to the acquisition of property and equipment for a new branch site located in Bloomingburg, New York. Investments in restricted stock decreased by $331,000, or 21.1%, to $1.2 million at September 30, 2022 from $1.6 million at December 31, 2021 due primarily to a reduction in mandatory Federal Home Loan Bank stock in connection with the maturity/pay-off of $7.0 million in advances during the quarter ended March 31, 2022. Accrued interest receivable increased by $2.4 million, or 54.9%, to $6.6 million at September 30, 2022 from $4.3 million at December 31, 2021 due to an increase in the loan portfolio and four interest rate increases in 2022 that resulted in an increase in the interest rates on loans in our construction loan portfolio. Foreclosed real estate decreased by $189,000, or 9.5%, to $1.8 million at September 30, 2022 from $2.0 million at December 31, 2021 due to a write down on the fair market value of the property because the increase in interest rates caused an increase in the capitalization rate thereby resulting in a reduction in the calculated fair market value of the property. Right of use assets — operating decreased by $403,000, or 15.7%, to $2.2 million at September 30, 2022 from $2.6 million at December 31, 2021, primarily due to amortization. Other assets increased by $1.3 million, or 26.7%, to $5.9 million at September 30, 2022 from $4.7 million at December 31, 2021 due to increases in tax assets of $765,000 and suspense accounts of $544,000, partially offset by decreases in prepaid expenses of $32,000 and securities principal receivable of $19,000. Total deposits increased by $60.5 million, or 6.5%, to $987.6 million at September 30, 2022 from $927.2 million at December 31, 2021. The increase was primarily due to an increase in savings account balances of $71.2 million, or 38.5% and an increase in non-interest bearing demand deposits of $23.5 million, or 7.1%. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in NOW/money market accounts of $21.0 million, or 17.8%, and a decrease in certificates of deposit of $13.2 million, or 4.5%, from December 31, 2021 to September 30, 2022. Federal Home Loan Bank advances decreased by $7.0 million, or 25.0%, to $21.0 million at September 30, 2022 from $28.0 million at December 31, 2021. Advance payments by borrowers for taxes and insurance increased by $413,000, or 21.9%, to $2.3 million at September 30, 2022 from $1.9 million at December 31, 2021 due primarily to the accumulation of tax payments from borrowers. Lease liability – operating decreased by $394,000, or 15.1%, to $2.2 million at September 30, 2022 from $2.6 million at December 31, 2021, primarily due to amortization. Accounts payable and accrued expenses decreased by $2.4 million, or 17.2%, to $11.2 million at September 30, 2022 from $13.5 million at December 31, 2021 due primarily to a decrease in suspense accounts for loan closings of $2.5 million. Stockholders' equity increased by $8.7 million, or 3.4% to $260.0 million at September 30, 2022, from $251.4 million at December 31, 2021. The increase in stockholders' equity was due to net income of $16.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022, a reduction of $652,000 in unearned employee stock ownership plan shares coupled with an increase of $124,000 in earned employee stock ownership plan shares, and $64,000 in other comprehensive income, partially offset by dividends paid and declared of $5.6 million and stock repurchases totaling $3.2 million. Net Interest IncomeNet interest income totaled $17.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022, as compared to $10.9 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021. The increase in net interest income of $6.6 million, or 60.0%, was primarily due to an increase in interest income offset by an increase in interest expense. The increase in interest income is attributable to increases in loans and investment securities, offset by a decrease in interest-bearing deposits. The increase in interest income is also attributable to a rising interest rate environment and the Federal Reserve's interest rate increases during the nine months ended September 30, 2022.   The increase in market interest rates during the twelve months subsequent to September 30, 2021 also caused an increase in our interest expense. As a result, the increase in interest expense for the three months ended September 30, 2022 was due to an increase in the cost of funds on our deposits and an increase in the balances on our savings and club balances, partially offset by decreases in the balances on our certificates of deposits and interest-bearing demand deposits and decreases in the cost of funds and balances on our borrowed money. In this regard, total interest income increased by $7.3 million, or 60.3%, to $19.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022 from $12.1 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021. The increase in interest income was due to an increase in the average balance of interest earning assets of $163.8 million, or 16.0%, to $1.2 billion for the three months ended September 30, 2022 from $1.0 billion for the three months ended September 30, 2021 and an increase in the yield on interest earning assets by 180 basis points from 4.72% for the three months ended September 30, 2021 to 6.52% for the three months ended September 30, 2022.   Interest expense increased by $742,000, or 62.8%, to $1.9 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022 from $1.2 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021. The increase in interest expense was due to an increase in the cost of interest bearing liabilities by 37 basis points from 0.86% for the three months ended September 30, 2021 to 1.23% for the three months ended September 30, 2022, and an increase in average interest bearing liabilities of $76.0 million, or 13.9%, to $624.0 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022 from $547.9 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021. Net interest margin increased by 162 basis points, or 38.0%, during the three months ended September 30, 2022 to 5.88% compared to 4.26% during the three months ended September 30, 2021. Net interest income totaled $42.9 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022, as compared to $31.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. The increase in net interest income of $11.3 million, or 35.7%, was primarily due to an increase in interest income offset by an increase in interest expense. The increase in interest income is attributable to increases in loans and investment securities, and interest-bearing deposits as we continued to deploy the proceeds raised in our July 2021 second-step conversion. The increase in interest income is also due, in large part, to the increase in interest rates attributable to the Federal Reserve's rate increases during the nine months ended September 30, 2022. The increase in market interest rates during the nine months ended September 30, 2022 also caused an increase in our interest expense. As a result, the increase in interest expense for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 is attributable to an increase in the cost of funds on our deposits and an increase in the balances on our savings and club balances, partially offset by decreases in the balances on our certificates of deposits and interest-bearing demand deposits and decreases in the cost of funds and balances on our borrowed money. In this regard, interest income increased by $11.9 million, or 33.5%, to $47.5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 from $35.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. The increase in interest income was due to an increase in the average balance of interest earning assets of $229.2 million, or 24.1%, to $1.2 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 from $951.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021 and an increase in the yield on interest earning assets by 38 basis points from 4.99% for the nine months ended September 30, 2021 to 5.37% for the nine months ended September 30, 2022.   Interest expense increased by $623,000, or 15.8%, to $4.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 from $3.9 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. The increase in interest expense was due to an increase in the cost of interest bearing liabilities of 5 basis points from 0.93% for the nine months ended September 30, 2021 to 0.98% for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 and an increase in average interest bearing liabilities of $60.5 million, or 10.7%, to $624.3 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 from $563.8 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. Net interest margin increased by 41 basis points, or 9.2%, during the nine months ended September 30, 2022 to 4.85% compared to 4.44% during the nine months ended September 30, 2021. Provision for Loan LossesThe Company recorded no loan loss provision for the three months ended September 30, 2022 compared to a loan loss provision of $3.6 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021. We charged-off $6,000 during the three months ended September 30, 2022 against various unpaid overdrafts in our demand deposit accounts compared to charge-offs of $3.6 million during the three months ended September 30, 2021.   The provision recorded for the three months ended September 30, 2021 was primarily attributed to the previously disclosed charge-off of $3.6 million during the three months ended September 30, 2021 regarding a non-residential bridge loan secured by real estate with a balance of $3.6 million. The loan is secured by commercial real estate located in Greenwich, Connecticut and guaranteed by the two borrowers. The loan originated in 2016 as a two-year bridge loan and, upon the borrower's failure to satisfy the loan at the maturity date, the loan was accelerated and a foreclosure action was instituted.   Although the loan was fully charged off, it remains in foreclosure and management and the borrower are negotiating a standstill agreement which will allow the borrowers to retain, at their own expense, the zoning and planning consultants necessary to obtain re-approvals from the town to proceed with the original planned residential condominium development.   Should the standstill agreement not materialize, the Company intends to aggressively seek recovery of all amounts due from the personal guarantors of the loan.   If successful against the guarantors, any recovery received would be added back to the allowance for loan losses and an analysis will be performed at that time to determine the appropriateness of the recovery into income. We also charged-off $3,000 during the three months ended September 30, 2021 against various unpaid overdrafts in our demand deposit accounts. We recorded no recoveries during the three months ended September 30, 2022 compared to recoveries of $151,000 during the three months ended September 30, 2021. The Company recorded no loan loss provision for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 compared to a loan loss provision of $3.6 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. The provision recorded for the nine months ended September 30, 2021 was primarily attributed to the charge-off of the aforementioned non-residential bridge loan with a balance of $3.6 million secured by commercial real estate located in Greenwich, Connecticut. We also charged-off $23,000 during both the nine months ended September 30, 2022 and September 30, 2021 against various unpaid overdrafts in our demand deposit accounts compared. We recorded recoveries of $242,000 during the nine months ended September 30, 2022 comprised of recoveries of $146,000 regarding a previously charged-off multi-family property, $53,000 regarding a previously charged-off non-residential property, and $43,000 regarding a previously charged-off mixed-use property. We recorded recoveries of $160,000 during the nine months ended September 30, 2021 comprised primarily of recoveries of $150,000 regarding a previously charged-off multi-family property. Non-Interest IncomeNon-interest income for the three months ended September 30, 2022 was $309,000 compared to non-interest income of $532,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2021. The decrease in total non-interest income was primarily due to an unrealized loss of $573,000 on equity securities during the three months ended September 30, 2022 compared to an unrealized loss of $154,000 on equity securities during the three months ended September 30, 2021. The unrealized loss of $573,000 on equity securities during the 2022 period was due to a rising interest rate environment and the Federal Reserve's interest rate increases during the September 30, 2022 quarter. The decrease in total non-interest income was partially offset by an increase of $163,000 in other loan fees and service charges, an increase of $52,000 on gain from the sale of fixed assets, an increase of $12,000 in other non-interest income, an increase of $1,000 in bank-owned life insurance income, and a decrease of $32,000 in investment advisory fees. Non-interest income for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 was $904,000 compared to non-interest income of $1.8 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. The decrease in total non-interest income was primarily due to an unrealized loss of $1.6 million on equity securities during the nine months ended September 30, 2022 compared to an unrealized loss of $215,000 on equity securities during the nine months ended September 30, 2021. The unrealized loss of $1.6 million on equity securities during the 2022 period was due to a rising interest rate environment and the Federal Reserve's interest rate increases during the nine months ended September 30, 2022. The decrease in total non-interest income was partially offset by an increase of $467,000 in other loan fees and service charges, an increase of $91,000 on gain from the sale of fixed assets, an increase of $28,000 in other non-interest income, an increase of $3,000 in bank-owned life insurance income and a decrease of $17,000 in investment advisory fees. Non-Interest ExpenseNon-interest expense increased by $969,000, or 14.1%, to $7.8 million for the three months ended September 30, 2022 from $6.9 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021. The increase resulted primarily from increases of $604,000 in other operating expense, $181,000 in real estate owned expense, $109,000 in occupancy expense, $78,000 in outside data processing expense, $42,000 in advertising expense, and $30,000 in equipment expense, partially offset by a decrease of $75,000 in salaries and employee benefits. Non-interest expense increased by $2.3 million, or 11.8%, to $22.1 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 from $19.7 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. The increase resulted primarily from increases of $1.4 million in other operating expense, $229,000 in occupancy expense, $197,000 in salaries and employee benefits, $170,000 in outside data processing expense, $167,000 in real estate owned expense, $107,000 in equipment expense, and $100,000 in advertising expense. Income TaxesWe recorded income tax expense of $2.4 million and $265,000 for the three months ended September 30, 2022 and 2021, respectively. For both the three months ended September 30, 2022 and September 30, 2021, we had approximately $185,000 in tax exempt income. Our effective income tax rates were 24.2% and 26.6% for the three months ended September 30, 2022 and 2021, respectively. We recorded income tax expense of $5.2 million and $2.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 and 2021, respectively. For the nine months ended September 30, 2022, we had approximately $553,000 in tax exempt income, compared to approximately $522,000 in tax exempt income for the nine months ended September 30, 2021. Our effective income tax rates were 23.9% and 23.6% for the nine months ended September 30, 2022 and 2021, respectively. Asset QualityNon-performing assets totaled $1.8 million at September 30, 2022 compared to $2.0 million at December 31, 2021. We had no non-performing loans at September 30, 2022 and December 31, 2021. Our non-performing assets consisted of one foreclosed property at September 30, 2022 and December 31, 2021. Our ratio of non-performing assets to total assets remained low at 0.14% at September 30, 2022 and at 0.16% at December 31, 2021. The Company's allowance for loan losses totaled $5.5 million, or 0.49% of total loans as of September 30, 2022, compared to $5.2 million, or 0.54% of total loans as of December 31, 2021.   Based on a review of the loans that were in the loan portfolio at September 30, 2022, management believes that the allowance for loan losses is maintained at a level that represents its best estimate of inherent losses in the loan portfolio that were both probable and reasonably estimable. CapitalThe Company's total stockholder's equity to assets was 20.24% as of September 30, 2022. At September 30, 2022, the Company had the ability to borrow $18.1 million from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. The Bank's capital position remains strong relative to current regulatory requirements and the Bank is considered a well-capitalized institution under the Prompt Corrective Action framework. As of September 30, 2022, the Bank had a tier 1 leverage capital ratio of 16.91% and a total risk-based capital ratio of 13.50%. Equity Incentive PlanAt a special shareholders meeting held on September 29, 2022, our shareholders approved the Company's 2022 Equity Incentive Plan whereby 1,369,771 shares of the Company's common stock have been reserved from authorized but unissued shares for purposes of grants of incentive stock options, nonqualified stock options, restricted stock, restricted stock units, performance shares and performance units to selected employees and non-employee directors of the Company. At September 30, 2022, 86,880 shares of restricted stock and 217,206 nonqualified stock options in the aggregate were granted to six non-employee directors of the Company as set forth in the 2022 Equity Incentive Plan. The aggregate value of the restricted stock and nonqualified stock options granted to the non-employee directors totaled $1.1 million and $843,000, respectively, at the date of the grant. The restricted stock and nonqualified stock options granted to the non-employee directors vest at a rate of 20% per year from the date of the grant. About NorthEast Community BancorpNorthEast Community Bancorp, headquartered at 325 Hamilton Avenue, White Plains, New York 10601, is the holding company for NorthEast Community Bank, which conducts business through its eleven branch offices located in Bronx, New York, Orange, Rockland, and Sullivan Counties in New York and Essex, Middlesex, and Norfolk Counties in Massachusetts and three loan production offices located in New City, New York, White Plains, New York, and Danvers, Massachusetts. For more information about NorthEast Community Bancorp and NorthEast Community Bank, please visit www.necb.com. Forward Looking StatementThis press release contains certain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding anticipated future events and can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. They often include words such as "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," and "intend" or future or conditional verbs such as "will," "would," "should," "could," or "may." Forward-looking statements, by their nature, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expected results include, but are not limited to, changes in market interest rates, regional and national economic conditions (including higher inflation and its impact on regional and national economic conditions), the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic (including its impact on NorthEast Community Bank's business operations and credit quality, on our customers and their ability to repay their loan obligations and on general economic and financial market conditions), legislative and regulatory changes, monetary and fiscal policies of the United States government, including policies of the United States Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board, the quality and composition of the loan or investment portfolios, demand for loan products, deposit flows, competition, demand for financial services in NorthEast Community Bank's market area, changes in the real estate market values in NorthEast Community Bank's market area and changes in relevant accounting principles and guidelines. Additionally, other risks and uncertainties may be described in our annual and quarterly reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), which are available through the SEC's website located at www.sec.gov. These risks and uncertainties should be considered in evaluating any forward-looking statements and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Except as required by applicable law or regulation, the Company does not undertake, and specifically disclaims any obligation, to release publicly the result of any revisions that may be made to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of the statements or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events. CONTACT:   Kenneth A. Martinek     Chairman and Chief Executive Officer       PHONE:   (914) 684-2500         NORTHEAST COMMUNITY BANCORP, INC.CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION(Unaudited)                   September 30,   December 31,     2022   2021     (In thousands, except share     and per share amounts) ASSETS             Cash and amounts due from depository institutions   $ 14,182     $ 8,344   Interest-bearing deposits     40,750       143,925   Total Cash and cash equivalents     54,932       152,269   Certificates of deposit     100       100   Equity securities     18,307       19,943   Securities available-for-sale, at fair value     1       1   Securities held-to-maturity (fair value of  $22,900 and $17,620, respectively)     26,732       17,880   Loans receivable     1,117,417       972,851   Deferred loan costs, net     551       484   Allowance for loan losses     (5,461 )     (5,242 ) Net loans     1,112,507       968,093   Premises and equipment, net     26,349       23,907   Investments in restricted stock, at cost     1,238       1,569   Bank owned life insurance     25,741       25,291   Accrued interest receivable     6,635       4,283   Goodwill     651       651   Real estate owned     1,807       1,996   Property held for investment     1,453       1,481   Right of Use Assets – Operating     2,161       2,564   Right of Use Assets – Financing     356       359   Other assets     5,935       4,683   Total assets   $ 1,284,905     $ 1,225,070   LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY             Liabilities:             Deposits:             Non-interest bearing   $ 354,336     $ 330,853   Interest bearing     633,288       596,311   Total deposits     987,624       927,164   Advance payments by borrowers for taxes and insurance     2,297       1,884   Federal Home Loan Bank advances     21,000       28,000   Lease Liability – Operating     2,210       2,604   Lease Liability – Financing     524       496   Accounts payable and accrued expenses     11,213       13,540   Total liabilities     1,024,868       973,688                 Stockholders' equity:             Preferred stock, $0.01 par value; 25,000,000 shares authorized; none issued or outstanding   $ —     $ —   Common stock, $0.01 par value; 75,000,000 shares authorized; 16,214,528 shares and 16,377,936 shares issued; and 16,214,528 shares and 16,377,936 shares outstanding, respectively     162       164   Additional paid-in capital     142,265       145,335   Unearned Employee Stock Ownership Plan ("ESOP") shares     (7,649 )     (8,301 ) Retained earnings     125,334       114,323   Accumulated other comprehensive loss     (75 )     (139 ) Total stockholders' equity     260,037       251,382   Total liabilities and stockholders' equity   $ 1,284,905     $ 1,225,070                   NORTHEAST COMMUNITY BANCORP, INC.CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME(Unaudited)                               Three Months Ended September 30,   Nine Months Ended September 30,     2022   2021   2022   2021     (In thousands, except per share amounts) INTEREST INCOME:                         Loans   $ 18,771     $.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaOct 28th, 2022

The US never banned asbestos. These workers are paying the price.

As other countries outlawed asbestos, workers in a New York plant were "swimming" in it. Now, in a fight against the chemical industry, the United States may finally ban the potent carcinogen. But help may come too late. A Hornblower Niagara Cruises catamaran sails back to its Canadian dock as passengers in blue ponchos line up at the American dock in Niagara Falls, New York, to board the Maid of the Mist, on May 15, 2014.Carolyn Thompson/AP At OxyChem's now-closed plant in Niagara Falls, New York, former workers told ProPublica that asbestos dust hung in the air and rolled across the floor in clumps, like tumbleweeds. Inhaled asbestos fibers can get trapped deep in the lungs. This can lead to inflammation and scarring and can result in chronic coughing, chest pain and a lung disease called asbestosis. The Environmental Protection Agency tried to ban asbestos in the 1980s. But the US crumpled in the face of pressure from OxyChem and its peers in the chlorine industry.   Now, in a fight against the chemical industry, the US may finally ban the potent carcinogen. But help may come too late. Co-published with NPR NewsProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.Henry Saenz remembers when he first learned what even the tiniest bit of asbestos could do to his body. He was working at a chemical plant where employees used the mineral to make chlorine, and his coworkers warned him about what could happen each time he took a breath: Tiny fibers, invisible to the eye, could enter his nose and mouth and settle into his lungs, his abdomen, the lining of his heart. They could linger there for decades. Then, one day, he might develop asbestosis, a chronic disease that makes the lungs harden, or mesothelioma, a vicious cancer that ends the lives of most who have it within a few years.By then, in the early 1990s, the dangers of asbestos were already irrefutable. The United States had prohibited its use in pipe insulation and branded it so risky that remediators had to wear hazmat suits to remove it. But unlike dozens of other countries that banned the potent carcinogen outright, the United States never did. To this day, the U.S. allows hundreds of tons of asbestos to flow in each year from Brazil, primarily for the benefit of two major chemical companies, OxyChem and Olin Corp. The companies say asbestos is integral to chlorine production at several aging plants and have made a compelling argument to keep it legal: Unlike in the horrific tales of the past, their current protocols for handling asbestos are so stringent that workers face little threat of exposure.But at OxyChem's plant in Niagara Falls, New York, where Saenz worked for nearly three decades, the reality was far different, more than a dozen former workers told ProPublica. There, they said, asbestos dust hung in the air, collected on the beams and light fixtures and built up until it was inches thick. Workers tramped in and out of it all day, often without protective suits or masks, and carried it around on their coveralls and boots. They implored the plant's managers to address the conditions, they said, but the dangers remained until the plant closed in late 2021 for unrelated reasons.It was hard for Saenz to reconcile the science that he understood — and that he believed OxyChem and government leaders understood — with what he saw at the plant every day. He did his best not to inhale the asbestos, but after a short time, he came to believe there was no way the killer substance was not already inside him, waiting, perhaps 30 or 40 or even 50 years, to strike.Now, too late for Saenz, the Environmental Protection Agency appears poised to finally outlaw asbestos in a test case with huge implications. If the agency fails to ban a substance so widely established as harmful, scientists and public health experts argue, it would raise serious doubts about the EPA's ability to protect the public from any toxic chemicals.To fight the proposed ban, the chemical companies have returned to a well-worn strategy and marshaled political heavyweights, including the attorneys general of 12 Republican-led states who say it would place a "heavy and unreasonable burden" on industry.Lost in the battle is the story of what happened in the decades during which the U.S. failed to act. It's not just a tale of workers in hardscrabble company towns who were sacrificed to the bottom line of industry, but one of federal agencies cowed again and again by the well-financed lawyers and lobbyists of the companies they are supposed to oversee.It's the quintessential story of American chemical regulation.The headquarters of Occidental Petroleum, which owns OxyChem, in Los Angeles, California, on January 29, 2010.Reed Saxon/APFor decades, the EPA and Congress accepted the chlorine companies' argument that asbestos workers were safe enough, and regulators left the carcinogen on the list of dangerous chemicals that other countries ban but the U.S. still allows. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration even let OxyChem and Olin into a special program that limited the frequency of inspections at many of their plants. Along the way, the two companies proved that they didn't need asbestos to make chlorine: They built some modern facilities elsewhere that didn't use it. But they balked at the cost of upgrading the older facilities where it was still in use — even as they earned billions of dollars from chemical sales and raked in record profits this year.OxyChem, owned by one of the country's largest energy companies, Occidental Petroleum, declined requests for an interview. After ProPublica sent a summary of its reporting, company officials said the accounts from the Niagara Falls plant were "inaccurate" but declined to say what specifically was incorrect. In a statement, the company said it complies with federal regulations on asbestos and that workers who handle it are "trained, work in restricted areas of our plant, protected by personal protective equipment and are offered annual medical examinations." The company also said it authorizes employees to stop work if they feel unsafe. "The health and safety of every plant worker and the people in our surrounding communities is our top priority," the company said.Olin did not respond to calls and emails sent over the course of a month.It has been easy to minimize the toll asbestos takes on workers. Workers' compensation cases are often confidential, and employees may fear speaking out and jeopardizing their livelihood. ProPublica reporters, however, found a unique opportunity to explore what it was really like to work at an asbestos-reliant plant after America's longest-standing facility, the one run by OxyChem in Niagara Falls, shuttered last November. With their jobs no longer on the line, Saenz and 17 other former workers, some with institutional knowledge dating back to the 1960s and others with memories less than a year old, said they felt free to talk. They agreed to hours of interviews and dug through their homes for documentation to reconstruct their work lives in the decades they spent at the plant.What they recounted — ever-present asbestos dust with scant protection — stunned six experts in industrial hygiene and occupational health who were consulted by ProPublica."Totally unacceptable," said Rachael Jones, professor and chair of the Environmental Health Sciences Department at the University of California, Los Angeles."Fraught with danger," said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a public health physician trained in occupational medicine and epidemiology who leads Boston College's program for Global Public Health and the Common Good."It sounds like something that maybe would happen in the 1940s or the 1950s," said Celeste Monforton, a lecturer in public health at Texas State University who studies occupational health and safety practices."It's just so counter to everything that they put in the record about using [asbestos] safely," Monforton said.For more than a century, OxyChem's plant on the Niagara River, just 3 miles upstream from the world-renowned falls, was a small city unto itself. It buzzed with workers day and night, and, in its heyday, had its own cafeteria, credit union and health clinic. A job there carried a certain cachet. Workers could make six figures, even without college degrees. But the plant had a dark legacy. Its previous owner, Hooker Chemical, had buried toxic waste in an unfinished aqueduct called Love Canal, then turned the property over to the city for development in the 1950s. After contaminated groundwater sickened the people who lived there, it became known as one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.A fence and a sign cordon off a contaminated toxic waste dump site in the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York, on August 2, 1978. The crisis led to federal Superfund legislation to clean up the nation's abandoned waste sites.APUnlike many of the other workers who grew up in the shadow of the plant, following their fathers and uncles into jobs there, Saenz was originally from Northern California. But he fell in love with a woman from Niagara Falls and moved there to start a family with her, working at a hotel, delivering flowers and tending bar — anything to put food on the table, he said — before deciding OxyChem was the job he wanted to stay in.He was hired in 1989 and soon after got a crash course in chemistry. A jolt of electricity, he learned, could turn a tank of salt water into three substances: chlorine, caustic soda and hydrogen. The chlorine could be sold for disinfecting water, the caustic soda for making paper, soap and aspirin. There was, however, a real danger: If the chemicals mixed, the tank could turn into a bomb. So each tank had a thick, metal screen inside to keep the chemicals apart.The screen was coated with a layer of impenetrable asbestos. OxyChem used chrysotile, or white asbestos, the most common type. It showed up on trains in oversized bags that looked like pillows stuffed with down feathers. At OxyChem, there were about 200 tanks, called cells, each the size of a dining room table and containing a metal screen. When a screen needed to be recoated, a special team of workers removed it and brought it to the cavernous cell-maintenance building. There, they blasted it with a high-pressure water cannon until the old asbestos fell off. Then, they dipped the clean screen into a wet mixture containing new asbestos and cooked it in an oven until the asbestos hardened. They worked on one or two screens each day.The asbestos job was one of the most hazardous at the plant, requiring special training. But it also provided a rare benefit. Unlike most positions, which forced workers to take afternoon and midnight shifts, the asbestos job was days only. Saenz, who initially worked in a different department, waited years for an opening on the team, eager to spend more time with his growing family. After his fourth child was born, a spot opened up.The team was a small fraternity of eight or so men who ate lunch together in a special trailer. Some days, when their shift ended at 2 p.m., they would meet at JD's, a dive bar near the plant. Other days, it was the wing joint down the street or the bar in Terry Cheetham's basement. Cheetham was the big brother of the group; the guys called him Soupie. Reserved and shaggy-haired, garrulous only with a beer in hand, he'd dropped out of high school after his father's death and gone to work for OxyChem. He wanted to help his mom support their family. Soon after Saenz joined the team, Cheetham tapped him on the shoulder. "We're going for a ride after work," he said. Later, they pulled up outside the local liquor store. As the new guy, Saenz had to carry the keg.The guys raised their kids together, helped each other's families through difficult times. At the plant, they always had each other's backs. Certain hazards, like fires, were hard to miss. Others, like chlorine leaks, were more subtle. Then, there was the asbestos. As Saenz spent more time on the job, he began noticing just how much of it surrounded him.Federal workplace safety standards require keeping asbestos fibers wet to prevent them from going airborne, having workers wear protective equipment and containing the asbestos inside certain areas. OxyChem had rules in place to meet those standards. But protocols failed to match reality at the Niagara Falls plant, according to more than a dozen workers.Water-blasting the screens was like washing a car with a high-powered hose. Asbestos splattered everywhere. It wasn't a problem when the asbestos was wet. But it would dry overnight, and the next morning, it would be stuck to the ceiling and the walls. Clumps would roll across the floor like tiny tumbleweeds. Floating particles would catch the light when the sun poured in. There was so much asbestos in the cell-maintenance building that it was impossible to keep it all wet, said Robert Cheff, who worked at the plant from 1981 to 2007. "We were constantly swimming in this stuff."Hand-specimen of asbestiform serpentine ore, also known as chrysotile, one of six minerals currently regulated as asbestos.asbestorama/Getty imagesWorkers wore protective gear for certain tasks, like pressure washing and screen dipping. But they went into the building to carry out other tasks without special suits or anything protecting their faces, despite company requirements. One worker said managers enforced those rules. But a dozen others interviewed by ProPublica recalled that the bosses looked the other way. Suiting up was impractical, those workers said. It took time away from the tasks that needed to get done and was uncomfortable, especially on hot days, when the temperature inside could reach 100 degrees.In the summer, the windows and doors were left open to keep the workers from overheating, allowing asbestos to escape outside. Wet asbestos splashed on their uniforms, coats, helmets and boots. One guy seemed to always have some on his mustache. It would dry and flake off their clothes wherever they went, they said. Saenz remembered walking into safety meetings in the administrative building with asbestos drying on his coveralls. The guys carried so much asbestos into the trailer where they ate lunch and took breaks that it needed to be replaced, former union leaders said.Their uniforms sat in the laundry, caked with dry asbestos. When the union raised the problem in 2010, managers responded by giving the team its own hamper with a lid to contain the asbestos, said longtime union officer Mike Spacone. Only after union leaders threatened to call federal authorities did the company give the team its own laundry facilities, Spacone said.On occasion, workers who handled asbestos would leave without showering in the plant's locker room or wear their work clothes home. "My kids played sports," recalled Dave Helbig, an employee from 1980 through 2021. "Sometimes I had to leave to get to their games."The company would have known employees were being exposed; workers with a high risk of exposure sometimes clipped a small monitor to their bodies to measure the amount of asbestos in the air around them. At least five times in 2001 and 2002, the levels around team member Patrick Nowak exceeded OSHA's exposure limit, his company records show. "I failed so many times, they quit testing me," he said. The records do not indicate if Nowak was wearing a protective mask known as a respirator, as some other employees' records do.Tony Garfalo wore a monitor seven times in 2001, and, on four occasions, the results exceeded OSHA's limit, his records show. Once, the asbestos level was more than five times the allowable limit. The records say he was wearing a half-face respirator. Garfalo said his bosses promised to address the situation, but "nothing changed."He and the others knew all too well the damage asbestos could cause. Garfalo said his father, who worked the asbestos job at the plant, developed asbestosis. Employees in other departments got sick from a type of asbestos-containing pipe covering that once insulated the plant, longtime employees said and court records show. Cheff said his uncle died from asbestosis at 59. A millwright named Teddy Skiba was diagnosed with mesothelioma and later died.In addition to those signature diseases, which are rare even among asbestos workers, the tiny strands can harm the body in other ways. They can put people at increased risk of heart disease by scarring the lungs, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood through them to pick up oxygen. Some scientific evidence suggests an association between asbestos exposure and stroke. And battling all kinds of illnesses with damaged lungs can weaken the body's ability to fight them; that damage can mean the difference between life and death.One retired member of the team, Umberto Bernardone, died from an aneurysm in 2004 at age 77. He had long had trouble breathing, said his son, Mario, who also worked at the plant. X-rays showed that asbestosis had scarred his lungs. "The asbestos was with him all the time," Mario said.Not long after, another retired team member, Salvatore "Buddy" Vilardo, died from a blood clot, his son said. He was 62.Cheetham, the group's big brother, had just retired when he fell ill in 2004. A doctor in Buffalo said it was cancer. Cheetham told his daughter Keri that he was certain the asbestos was responsible and asked her to consult a lawyer after he died. When the guys found out he was sick, they showed up at his house. They found their friend in a bed in his living room, under the care of a hospice nurse, struggling to breathe.Cheetham died five months before his 56th birthday. His autopsy surprised his family — it wasn't asbestos after all; an aggressive form of skin cancer had killed him. His former co-workers weren't told about the autopsy. For years, they believed his cancer had been brought on by asbestos exposure. The memory of Cheetham's last gasps haunted the guys like a ghost, a harbinger of what their own futures might hold.Elsewhere in the world, governments were taking action to protect their people. Saudi Arabia banned asbestos in 1998, Chile and Argentina did so in 2001, Australia in 2003. By 2005, asbestos was outlawed across the European Union. "It was a no-brainer," said Tatiana Santos, head of chemical policy at the European Environmental Bureau, a network of environmental citizens' groups.America's EPA could have banned asbestos. Congress could have banned it. But over and over, they crumpled in the face of pressure from OxyChem and its peers in the chlorine industry.The EPA tried to enact a ban in the late 1980s, but the companies got ahead of it. Records from the time show corporations testified that removing asbestos from chlorine plants would not yield significant health benefits because workers were only minimally exposed; they also argued it would require "scrapping large amounts of capital equipment" and thus would "not be economically feasible."Under federal law at the time, the EPA was obligated to regulate asbestos in the way that was "least burdensome" to industry. That forced the EPA to make a cold calculation: Banning asbestos in chlorine plants would prevent "relatively few cancer cases" but increase the companies' costs. So when the agency enacted an asbestos ban in 1989, it carved out an exemption for the mineral's use in the chlorine industry.The EPA made it clear that the companies should begin using alternatives to asbestos screens; in fact, according to company records made public through litigation and published as part of Columbia University and the City University of New York's Toxic Docs project, OxyChem had already developed screens that didn't need an asbestos coating. Still, the companies celebrated their immunity from regulation."WE HAVE A WIN," a lobbyist declared in an internal communication included in the Toxic Docs project.In the end, asbestos was never banned. The asbestos industry challenged the ban in court, and in 1991, a panel of federal judges deemed the rule too onerous and overturned it. The decision was a stinging blow to the EPA, several current and former employees told ProPublica. "I still remember the shock on the managers' faces," said Greg Schweer, an EPA veteran who ran its new-chemicals management branch before he retired in 2020. The office "was full of energized people wanting to make their mark. But things changed after that." The agency shelved efforts to regulate other dangerous substances and wouldn't attempt a similar chemical ban for 28 years.Most industries stopped using asbestos anyway, a phenomenon experts largely attribute to a wave of lawsuits from people with asbestos-related diseases. But the chlorine industry kept using its asbestos screens. It continued importing hundreds of tons of the substance every year, more than the weight of the Statue of Liberty.In 2002, Sen. Patty Murray a Democrat from Washington, tried to get a ban through Congress. She tried again in 2003 and again in 2007. That year, with Democrats in control of the Senate and House, her effort found some traction. OxyChem was keenly aware how much an asbestos ban would hurt its bottom line. Chlorine and caustic soda were the focus of its chemical operation, financial statements show, driving more than $4 billion in annual sales. Most of OxyChem's plants still used asbestos; if they had to close, production would tumble.Occidental Petroleum, OxyChem's owner, was a force on Capitol Hill, with lobbyists that spent millions influencing policy and a political action committee that pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns each election cycle. OxyChem was also a member of the American Chemistry Council, an influential trade organization that made campaign contributions of its own.The industry had an ally in then-Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana; at the time, at least a quarter of the 16 asbestos-dependent plants in the country were located in the Republican senator's home state, records show. At a hearing in June 2007, Vitter echoed the chlorine industry's standby talking point, that its manufacturing process involved "minimal to no release of asbestos and absolutely no worker exposure.""Now, if this were harming people or potentially killing people, that would be the end of the argument, we should outlaw it," he added. "But there is no known case of asbestos-related disease from the chlor-alkali industry using this technology."Then-Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat in favor of the ban, pushed back, saying the chlorine manufacturing process was "not as clean as one would think." But to build support for the bill, proponents ultimately agreed to exclude products that might contain trace levels of asbestos, such as crushed stone, as well as the asbestos used in the chlorine industry.The bill passed out of the Senate on a unanimous vote. But many of the public health advocates who championed the initial measure opposed the watered-down version, saying it had been practically gutted, and it failed to find support in the House. Vitter, who later went on to lobby for the American Chemistry Council, did not respond to requests for an interview.In the 15 years that followed, congressional attempts to ban asbestos would continue to fall short.The Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2020.Lucy Nicholson/ReutersYet another federal entity had the power to protect the OxyChem workers. There was once a time when OSHA inspectors visited the Niagara Falls plant about every year. That ended in 1996, when the plant won coveted admission into an OSHA program that exempted it from such scrutiny.The Star Program, created during the Reagan administration as part of OSHA's Voluntary Protection Programs, allows plants that can prove they are model facilities to avoid random inspections. The theory behind the program is that motivating companies to adhere to best practices on their own is more effective than having underfunded government inspectors punish them.At the Niagara Falls plant, former union leaders believed the program would protect jobs and make the facility safer, they told ProPublica. They worked with management on the application — a monthslong process that entailed updating the plant's safety practices and submitting to a rigorous inspection. But what actually changed, the union leaders said, was that OSHA inspectors came far less frequently and announced their visits well in advance. When OSHA came to re-evaluate the plant, usually every three to five years, management spent months preparing, said Spacone, the union officer. "They would clean the hell out of the place. Everything would be spotless." Work in certain areas came to a halt. Plant representatives tried to limit what the evaluators saw.Even still, in 2011, evaluators found asbestos "scattered in certain areas of the floor" and covering much of the mechanical equipment, records show. "This contamination can spread easily when dry," they wrote in a report. "Appropriate clean up procedures must be instituted to prevent airborne asbestos." The evaluators did not give the plant an official citation. In the end, they applauded the plant's "commitment to safety and health" and recommended it for continued participation in the program.Three years later, evaluators identified another issue related to hygiene: Although the plant tested the air for hazards like asbestos, it wasn't using the data to spot problems. What's more, the person in charge of the program wasn't properly trained. OSHA let the plant remain in the program on the condition that it fixed the problems within a year. The plant updated its software and the department leader took a 56-hour course, records show.Apart from the re-evaluation visits, OSHA made just two other trips to the plant between 1996 and 2021, records show. Only one included a full inspection. On that visit, inspectors cited the plant for failing to protect workers from falls. The other visit did not result in any citations.With OSHA largely out of the picture, the plant's managers became more lax about safety, Spacone said. "I started thinking [that joining the Star Program] was a mistake," he said. Debbie Berkowitz, a former chief of staff and senior policy adviser at OSHA during the Obama administration, said that, in her experience, it was possible for plants to stay in the program long after their commitment to safety had lapsed. "Once they're in, they're in," she said. "In most cases, it is a total ruse."OSHA declined to make an official available for an on-the-record interview or comment on ProPublica's findings at the Niagara Falls plant. A Department of Labor spokesperson said that plants can be terminated from the program and that unions can withdraw their support.In the absence of government intervention, union leaders tried to tackle the asbestos problem themselves, four former union presidents told ProPublica. The union repeatedly asked management to expand the asbestos team and have certain people dedicated to cleaning. Plant leaders refused, they said. "It was a never-ending battle," said Vincent Ferlito, one of the former presidents. "It always came back to the same thing: money."Fed up with the mess, Garfalo grabbed a roll of red caution tape one day in 2007 and wrapped it around the asbestos-soiled building where his team worked, to the amazement of his colleagues. He barricaded each doorway, then hung as many danger signs as he could find. The protest prompted his managers to hire professionals for a one-time clean, but they also warned him to never do it again, he said.By 2011, a year after he'd retired, Garfalo couldn't ignore a lingering cough that would occasionally startle him out of sleep. His doctor couldn't tell whether his breathing difficulties were caused by asbestos or his smoking habit, but said that smokers who are exposed to the substance have an even higher risk of serious illness. Garfalo's mind traveled back to a day, a dozen years earlier, when he climbed atop the cell-maintenance building to fix a fan, only to discover that the entire roof was coated in asbestos. Train cars parked beside the building were covered, too. He thought about the homes less than a half-mile away and wondered how far the fibers had traveled.Federal Triangle buildings, including the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2022.Patrick Semansky/APIn August 2021, OxyChem announced it was closing the Niagara Falls plant, blaming "unfavorable regional market conditions" and rising rail costs in New York state. Over time, its workforce had dwindled from more than 1,300 to about 150. OxyChem's chlorine operation was now mostly in Gulf Coast states with lower taxes and less regulation.And a law that had once protected it from "burdensome" environmental rules had changed.In 2016, Congress had updated the Toxic Substances Control Act, removing the requirement that the EPA choose regulations that burdened industry as little as possible. Though the change gave the agency another chance to ban asbestos, it wasn't going to happen during the Trump administration; the former president once alleged that the movement against asbestos was "led by the mob" and had his face featured on the packaging of Russian-produced asbestos. Under the Biden administration, however, the EPA determined that all workers in asbestos-dependent chlorine plants faced an "unreasonable risk" of getting sick from it, citing a review of the companies' own exposure-monitoring data. This April, EPA Administrator Michael Regan proposed a ban for the first time in more than three decades.It could be eight months or more before the rule is finalized. Two trade associations, the American Chemistry Council and the Chlorine Institute, are imploring the EPA to reconsider. They are once again arguing that the companies use asbestos safely — and they've turned to industry-friendly scientists and consulting firms to accuse the EPA of overestimating the risk to workers.When given a summary of ProPublica's reporting on the Niagara Falls plant and asked to respond, Chlorine Institute Vice President Robyn Brooks said her organization had no knowledge of the situation and referred reporters to OxyChem. The American Chemistry Council pointed to the plant's participation in the Star program as proof of its "record of performance."The industry groups have also made the case that a ban would jeopardize the country's supply of chlorine and could even create a drinking water shortage. But the EPA and public health advocates contest those claims. They point out that only a small fraction of the chlorine produced by asbestos-dependent plants is used to clean drinking water and that OxyChem and Olin have voluntarily closed or reduced capacity at several of those plants in recent years without catastrophically disrupting the supply chain. In fact, OxyChem told investors in August that its plans to upgrade the asbestos-reliant technology at its largest chlorine facility next year would have "no impact on customers," a transcript shows. For at least eight years, the company has been slowly upgrading some plants to a newer technology that uses a polymer membrane to separate the chemicals; it built a completely asbestos-free plant in 2014.The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has come to the companies' defense, saying asbestos is "tightly regulated" and "used safely every day" in the chlor-alkali industry. So have 12 Republican attorneys general, including Ken Paxton of Texas and Jeff Landry of Louisiana. In a letter, they questioned whether the EPA has the authority to pursue a ban, signaling a readiness to take the agency to court like the asbestos industry did in 1989. (The Chamber and most of the attorneys general declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries from ProPublica. A spokesperson for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson called the situation at the Niagara Falls plant "very concerning" and said that it would be "completely misleading" to suggest that the letter implied approval of such circumstances.)Industry leaders are confident they will prevail. "We've been engaged in this activity for quite a while and have pushed back on it," Olin CEO Scott Sutton told shareholders on a July 29 earnings call. "I think you're not likely to see a final rule come out that is as proposed."Michal Freedhoff, the EPA's top chemical regulator, said she could not comment on what the final rule-making decision would be. But she said the agency was not backing down on the science and that ProPublica's reporting underscores the need for decisive action.Given the potential for litigation, lawmakers are renewing their effort to pass a law banning asbestos, which would be more difficult to challenge in court. "It is a brutal and painful fight," said Linda Reinstein, a leading advocate who co-founded the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization after her husband, Alan, died of mesothelioma in 2006. "We're not going away."Hanging in the balance is the health of hundreds of workers at the eight remaining asbestos-dependent chlorine plants in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Kansas. ProPublica reached out to current and former employees at those facilities. At the OxyChem plant in Wichita, union president Keith Peacock said he was comfortable with the way asbestos was handled. "I don't know of anyone who sees this as a health issue," he said. "There are rules in place for it and everyone adheres to those safety guidelines." But Chris Murphy, a former union president at Olin's plant in Alabama, said the conditions there mirrored the ones described by the workers in Niagara Falls. He said he himself had seen asbestos caked on beams and cranes in recent years and been told to remove it with a putty knife. "There ain't nothing to it," he remembered his managers saying. "You'll be all right. It ain't that bad." He wasn't told to wear protective gear, he said, so he didn't.The former OxyChem workers who still live in Niagara Falls gather once a month to reminisce over Buffalo wings and beef piled high on salty kummelweck rolls. They can only wait and see if they develop symptoms as they enter the post-exposure time frame in which asbestos-related disease is commonly diagnosed.Saenz left the plant with a bad back in 2016. Now a 64-year-old grandfather of two, he's been having lung trouble and considering X-rays to see if there are signs of asbestos-related damage. "I'm wondering if I'm not headed down that road," he said.He sees the burden he now carries as a tradeoff for the lifestyle he was once afforded. "It was a great place to work. I was able to raise four children and buy a house and live the American dream." He even gave his son Henry Jr. his blessing to start a job at OxyChem in 2013, so long as he stayed far away from asbestos. Saenz now wonders how much more time he has left with his family."It's a nightmare," he said. "It's a price you pay, I guess."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 23rd, 2022

Stockman: The Macroeconomic Consequences Of Lockdowns & The Aftermath

Stockman: The Macroeconomic Consequences Of Lockdowns & The Aftermath Authored by David Stockman via The Brownstone Institute, During the past three years, Washington has made three catastrophic errors. These include: The draconian one-size-fits-all Lockdowns in response to the Covid; The insane $11 trillion bacchanalia of monetary and fiscal stimulus payment designed to counter the supply-side shutdowns caused by the Virus Patrol; The mindless Sanctions War on Russia, which has caused global commodity markets to erupt skyward. The resulting economic and financial dislocations, both global and domestic, are unprecedented and could not have come in a worst context. Prolonged fiscal and monetary excesses prior to February 2020 were already destined to generate an era of reckoning, even before Washington jumped the shark after the Covid panic was ignited by Donald Trump in March 2020. Consider the course of fiscal and monetary policy over 2003-2019. During that 17-year period, the public debt share of GDP soared from an already high 62% to 111%, and the Fed’s balance sheet exploded under the bailouts of 2008-2009 and QE thereafter from $725 billion to $4.2 trillion. The latter embodied a growth rate of 11.0% per annum over the period, nearly three times the 4.0% growth rate of nominal GDP. In a word, Washington policy makers had been on a reckless lark for the better part of two decades. It was only a matter of time before an unavoidable policy reversal toward restraint would bring the hothouse prosperity of both Wall Street and main street crashing down. Public Debt As % of GDP and Fed Balance Sheet, 2003-2019 The history books will surely record, therefore, that it was Trump who foolishly ignited the above depicted ticking financial timebomb. Based on the facts known now and the evidence available then, the prolonged Lockdowns ordered by Trump on March 16, 2020 were one of the most capriciously destructive acts of the state in modern history. The reason is simple: The Covid was at best a super flu that did not remotely rise to a Black Plague style existential threat to American society, and therefore did not warrant any extraordinary “public health” intervention at all. America’s medical care system was more than equipped to handle the elevated case loads among the elderly and comorbid that actually occurred. Indeed, the IFR (infection fatality rate) for the under 70-years population has turned out to be so low as to make the brutal economic shutdowns ordered by the Donald and his Fauci-led Virus Patrol tantamount to crimes against the American people. A thorough-going study by Professor Ioannidis and colleagues across 31 national seroprevalence studies in the pre-vaccination era,  for example, shows that the median infection fatality rate of COVID-19 was estimated to be just 0.035% for people aged 0-59 years and 0.095% for those aged 0-69 years. So we are talking about just four-to ten-hundredths of one percent of the infected populations succumbing to the disease. A further breakdown by age group found that the average IFR was: 0.0003% at 0-19 years 0.003% at 20-29 years 0.011% at 30-39 years 0.035% at 40-49 years 0.129% at 50-59 years  0.501% at 60-69 years. There is just no beating around the bush. The Lockdowns impacted the livelihoods and social life primarily of the working age and youth populations depicted below, but not in a million years should the heavy hand of the state been brought to bear on their ordinary freedoms to conduct economic and social life as they saw fit. Nor does the Donald and Fauci’s Virus Patrol get off the hook on the grounds that these dispositive facts about the Covid were not fully known in early March 2020. But to the contrary, the results of a live fire case study involving the 3,711 passengers and crew members of the famously stricken and stranded cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, were fully known at the time, and they were more than enough to quash the Lockdown hysteria. During late January and February the virus had spread rapidly among the large, close-quartered population of the cruise ship, causing nearly 20% of the population to test positive—about half of which were symptomatic. Moreover, the population skewed elderly as is normally the case on cruise ships, with 2,165 people or 58% over 60-years of age and 1,242 or 33% over 70-years. So if there was a vulnerable population sample this was it: That is, a stranded population of the mostly elderly in the close quarters of a cruise ship. But, alas, the known mortality count from the Diamond Princess as of March 13, 2020 was just nine, and ultimately 13, meaning that the overall population survival rate was 99.8%. Moreover, all of these nine deaths were among the 70 years and older population, making the survival rate for even among the most vulnerable sub-population 99.3%,. And, of course, for the 2,469 persons under 70-years of age on this ship, the survival rate was, well, 100%.  That’s right. Donald Trump and his way-in-over-his-head son-in-law, Jared Kushner, knew or should have known that the survival rate of the under 70-years population on the Diamond Princess was 100%, and that there was no dire public emergency in any way, shape or form. Under those conditions, anyone with a passing familiarity with the tenets of constitutional liberty and the requisites of free markets would have sent Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and the rest of the public health power-grabbers packing. That the Donald and Jared did not do. Instead, they got led by the nose for month after month by Fauci’s awful crew because basically Trump and Kushner were power-seekers and egomaniacs, not Republicans and certainly not conservatives. The resulting unnecessary economic wreckage is almost unspeakable. Here are four measures which show that the instant plunge in economic activity triggered by the Lockdowns was simply off-the-charts compared to any prior history. During Q2 2020, for example, real GDP plunged by 35% at an annualized rate, leaving the declines during the prior 11 post-war recessions (gray columns) far in the dust. Annualized Change In Real GDP, 1947 to 2022 Likewise, the drop in Q2 employment was in a whole new zip code. During April 2020, the US economy shed 20.5 million payroll jobs—a figure that was 28X larger than the worst  job loss of the Great Recession in February 2009 (-747,000). Monthly Change In Nonfarm Payrolls, 1939-2022 Even industrial production (black line), which was not nearly as heavily impacted as the Leisure & Hospitality (L&H) and other services industries, dropped by 13%, or nearly 4X more than during the worst month of the Great Recession. At the same time, payrolls at ground zero of the Lockdowns— restaurants, bars, hotels and resorts (purple line)— plummeted by a staggering 46% during April 2020 or by 50X more than any prior monthly decline. Monthly Change In Industrial Production and Leisure & Hospitality Payrolls, 1950-2022 To call the above a “supply-side shock” is hardly an adequate description. Donald Trump literally decimated the production side of the US economy because he did not have the gumption, knowledge and policy principles necessary to blow off Fauci’s statist attack on America’s market economy. But what came thereafter was actually worse. The Donald did not care a wit about fiscal rectitude and the surging public debt that was already in place; and actually had demanded time and again even more egregious money-printing than the ship of fools in the Eccles Building were already foisting upon the American economy. So he loudly clambered on board as the panicked politicians on Capitol Hill and the money-printers at the Fed opened the stimulus sluice gates like never before. The resulting disaster is now coming home to roost, with Joe Biden being the available fall guy, and rightfully so–given the compounding damage being wrought by his truly idiotic proxy war against Russia and the related Sanctions War attack on the global trading and payments system. Still, at the end of the day the disaster now unfolding was ignited by the Donald from the combustible fiscal and monetary brew he inherited. And his current dominance of the GOP tells you all you need to know about what lies ahead. The once-upon-a- time “conservative party” in the economic governance of America has become about as useless for the task as teats on a boar. The Aftermath Needless to say, the 35% annualized plunge in real GDP during Q2 2020 was not caused by “aggregate demand” suddenly petering out. In fact, there was nothing about this unprecedented collapse in economic activity that was remotely related to the prevailing Keynesian demand-driven models. To the contrary, the Covid contraction was all about the supply side. The latter had been directly monkey-hammered not by reluctant consumers and spenders, but by the marauding Virus Patrol which was shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms, ball parks, movie theaters, malls and countless more via direct “command and control” orders of the state. To be sure, when you lay off 20.5 million workers in a single-month (April 2020), for instance, that does cause household purchasing power to diminish. But it was also a case of Say’s Law getting its due. Diminished supply was curtailing its own demand. Indeed, the derivative loss of “aggregate demand” in April 2020 and the months immediately thereafter was tracking the prior loss of production and income. Consequently, the Keynesian solution of replenishing the lost demand with government transfer payments, promised only to draw down existing inventories, pull in more imports from less supply-constrained economies abroad and eventually inflate the price of existing supplies–whether from inventories, domestic production or sources abroad. In fact, this is exactly what happened in a process of further drastic economic distortion compared to all prior history. In the case of retail inventories, stimmy-fueled “demand” literally sucked the inventory stocks dry. The ratio to sales plunged to an unheard of low of 1.09 months by May 2021. Retail Inventory-To-Sales Ratio, 1992-2021 Likewise, import volumes erupted like never before. Between the pre-Covid level of $203 billion per month in January 2020 goods imports have soared by 46% to $297 billion per month. That’s a $1.1 trillion annual rate of gain! China, South Korea, Vietnam and Mexico are undoubtedly grateful. But the only pump Washington’s massive stimmies primed was located mainly in foreign economies. Meanwhile, the US economy struggled all the way through this period because the  shutdown orders and fears generated by the Virus Patrol drastically constricted the supply side of the US economy. Keynesian demand had nothing to do with it! US Monthly Imports Of Goods, 2012-2021 In fact, the startling eruption of demand for durable goods leaves no doubt about how wrongheaded the giant stimmies actually were. Since money could not be readily spent on the normal slate of services, households went bananas spending their restaurant money savings and their multiple rounds of stimmies on goods that could be delivered to the front door by Amazon. By the time the stimmies peaked in April 2021, personal consumption expenditures for goods were up by a staggering 79% over prior year. The resulting aberration in the flow of economic activity is plain as day in the chart below. Y/Y Change In Personal Consumption Expenditures For Durable Goods, 2007-2021 At length, foreign supply chains buckled under the weight of artificial demand for goods stimulated by Washington and European policy-makers—a dislocation that was then compounded when their unhinged Sanctions War against Russia caused petroleum, wheat and other commodity prices to soar, as well. As best shown by the lead indicator of upstream PPI prices for intermediate processed goods, inflation was brewing in the supply pipeline as early as September 2020, when the annualized rate of change posted at 5.6%. By December 2020 that figure had risen to 17.0%, and then was off to the races: Wholesale prices for processed goods were rising  at a 43% annualized rate by March 2021. As it happened, the downstream CPI began to accelerate in March 2021, but by then the die was cast. Washington’s foolish attempt to massively stimulate “demand” in an economy that was being drastically curtailed on the supply side by its own public health orders and policies had already ignited the most powerful inflationary cycle in 40 years. Of course, in March 2021, at the peak in the brown line below, Washington was still in full-on stimulus mode. Joe Biden’s $2 trillion American Rescue Act was injecting another round of fiscal stimulus, even as the Fed persevered in buying $120 billion per month of government and GSE debt. Annualized Rate Of Change, PPI For Intermediate Processed Goods, September 2020 to May 2021 Here is the annualized rate of government transfer payments for the last two cycles—with the latter one, again, being off the charts by a country mile. During the Great Recession cycle, the maximum increase in the government transfer payment rate was +$640 billion and 36% between December 2007 and May 2008 (i.e. the Bush tax rebate stimulus of that month was actually bigger than Obama’s shovel ready stimulus in February 2009). By contrast, under the absolute frenzy of stimmies during the Covid cycle, government transfer payments increased from a run rate of $3.15 trillion per annum in February 2020 to $8.10 trillion by March 2021. That’s when the two Trump stimmies and the Biden add-on maxed out at $6 trillion in total spending. The math of it is staggering. The annualized rate of government transfer payments rose by $4.9 trillion during that period, representing an out-of-this-world gain of 156% in just 13 months! Is there any wonder that the American economy has been over-run with a “demand shock” of biblical proportion? Annualized Rate Of Government Transfer Payments,  November 2007 to March 2021 An eruption of government spending and borrowing of this staggering magnitude within a matter of months would have normally caused a giant squeeze in the bond pits, sending  bond yields soaring skyward. But that didn’t happen: The benchmark yield on the 10-year UST (purple line) actually fell from an already low 3.15% in October 2018 to an absurd 0.55% in July 2020, and remained at just 1.83% thru February 2022. There is no mystery as to why. During the same period, the Fed’s balance sheet (black line) erupted as never before, rising from $4.1 trillion to a peak of $8.9 trillion by February 2022. That is to say, the Eccles Building monetized a huge share of the stimmy spending, thereby drastically falsifying the entire market for government debt and all the private household and business debt that prices off from it. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the Virus Patrol was able to run roughshod over the private economy? Washington compensated one and all for the resulting harm and then some by unleashing a $6 trillion spending bacchanalia in less than 14 months, which was accomplished with barely a dissent from either party to the Washington duopoly because interest rates on government debt had plunged to an all-time low. In turn, that was enabled by the most reckless spurt of money printing and debt monetization in recorded history. Meanwhile, the stock market and related risk assets rose by 60% on average and by two times, three times, and ten times in some of the hottest “momo” sectors during the same period. America was simply drunk on spending without production, borrowing without saving and money-printing without limit. It all amounted to a phantasmagoria of financial excess like had never before even been imagined, let alone attempted. Fed Balance Sheet And Yield On 10-Year UST, October 2018 to February 2022 The real skunk on the woodpile, however, is that the rationalization for all of this fiscal and monetary excess —protecting households and businesses from the plunge of economic activity — was essentially bogus. The lost aggregate demand did not need to be replaced with stimulus and free stuff because there had been a prior and equal decline in aggregate production and income. The only “stimulus” needed to restore the economy’s status quo ante was to send the Virus Patrol packing. That is to say, the Fed’s balance sheet could have stayed at $4 trillion (better yet it could have been returned to the previous path of QT-based shrinkage), even as the fiscal equation could have been pushed toward balance after decades of reckless borrowing. To be sure, low-wage workers got hit the hardest because they worked in the services sectors slammed by the Virus Patrol, meaning there was an “equity” case for some kind of government help in these cases. But, alas, the help was already there in the form of the automatic shock absorbers that have been erected in the Welfare State over the last decades. We are referring to unemployment insurance, food stamps, ObamaCare, Medicaid and a medley of lesser means-tested programs. The emphasis here is on means-tested. The so-called Safety Net was fully in place, would have covered 90% of the Covid-Lockdown hardship automatically and therefore required no fiscal bailout legislation at all, to say nothing of the $6 trillion of spending orgies that actually transpired. The only thing missing was that fact that state unemployment programs generally exclude gig and part-time workers, the very modest segment of the labor force that got clobbered the hardest. But a year’s worth of support at $30,000 per worker (more than they make on average) for an estimated 5 million gig workers not covered by regular state UI programs would have cost $150 billion or just 2.5% of the tidal wave of Covid relief spending that actually occurred. In any event, the US economy was a financial timebomb fixing to explode in February 2022 when Joe Biden decided to save “Novorossiya” (New Russia) from the Russians, who had intervened to protect their kinsman from the devastating attacks being leveled on the Donbas by the anti-Russian government planted in Kiev by Washington during the February 2014 coup. The resulting Washington-inspired Sanction War on the largest commodity producer on planet earth was the tripwire for the calamity now underway. Washington’s three great errors have turned the world upside-down. An economy freighted down with $92 trillion of public and private debt was, is and will remain an accident waiting to happen. *  *  * Republished from David Stockman’s site. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/23/2022 - 13:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 23rd, 2022

Weaponized Governmental Failure: A Primer

Weaponized Governmental Failure: A Primer Authored by Scott McKay via The American Spectator, Democrats rule over a ruin, but they rule... The following contains an excerpt from Scott McKay’s book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win the Next American Era. It discusses a key concept which has appeared in several of his more recent columns to describe the decline of America’s cities. With the 2022 midterm elections less than three weeks away and the alarming dysfunction of urban areas run by Democrats contributing in large measure to the public’s unease as expressed in countless right track/wrong track surveys, Scott says nothing about any of this is accidental. *  *  * Let’s call it Weaponized Governmental Failure. It’s the single most explicative factor in the breakdown of American political consensus in the 21st century, even though it’s been around since the latter part of the 20th century. The simple definition of Weaponized Governmental Failure is this: it’s the deliberate refusal to perform the basic tasks of urban governance for a specific political purpose. The crime and the graft and the potholes and the bad drainage, not to mention the spotty trash collection or nonexistent snow shoveling, aren’t incompetence. In fact, none of what you see in the American public sector is incompetence. The people responsible for it are quite highly educated and well-trained in their craft. You just need to understand what their craft is. It’s a choice to do a poor job with the more mundane tasks of running a city, and an educated and purposeful choice at that. If you do those things effectively, after all, what you will get is middle-class voters moving in. Middle-class voters tend to choose to live in places where they can expect to get actual value out of their tax dollars — good roads, safe streets, functional drainage, decent schools, a friendly business climate, and a growing economy, among other things — and those things are hard to produce when you govern the way the Left does. Put a different way, middle-class voters are a pain in the ass. They want lots of things that make for unrewarding grunt work for a mayor, and a Democrat blowhard like a Mitch Landrieu or Ted Wheeler of Portland would rather spend his time on vacuous cultural aggressions like “social change” and offering wealth redistribution and excuses for the bad personal habits that cause so many people to be poor. Not to mention tilting at bronze statues of better men long dead and nearly forgotten as a means of “making a difference.” For a Landrieu, or a Kwame Kilpatrick, Marion Barry, Bill de Blasio, or Lori Lightfoot, it is no great loss if those middle-class voters declare themselves fed up and decamp to the suburbs. Their exodus simply makes for an electorate that is a lot less demanding and easier to control. That “white flight” is a feature. It’s not a bug. And it isn’t all that white either. Those suburbs the folks are leaving for? Their minority population share usually increases as their population does. Why do you think that is? Simple: the black middle class has no more use for these woke urban Democrats than the white middle class does. And it’s quite a mutual sentiment, to be sure. The urban socialist Left wants a manageably small core of rich residents and a teeming mass of poor ones, and nothing in between. That’s what Weaponized Governmental Failure produces, and it’s a wide-scale success. New Orleans votes 90 percent Democrat. Philadelphia is 80 percent Democrat. Chicago is 85 percent. Los Angeles? Seventy-one percent. None of those cities will have a Republican mayor or city council again, or at least not in the foreseeable future. Because there are very few middle-class voters left in the cities. Rich voters don’t really ask for anything, because they can generally pay for whatever they need out of pocket (for example, their kids go to private schools, and they’ve got private security in their neighborhoods). All they require is that the WGF politicians give them access and the occasional favor, and they’ll not only vote for them but write campaign checks. Poor voters? Please. They’re generally unsophisticated and susceptible to government dependency, and thus manipulating them is no great task. Give them the occasional crumbs from the table, and keep them busy with stupidities like bowdlerizing old monuments, or midnight basketball, or Black Lives Matter “defund the police” pandering, and you can get them to vote however you want without ever lifting a finger to provide real opportunity for social and economic advancement. Or even by vigorously promoting policies and outcomes that actively hold back the social mobility of the urban poor. You don’t really think the public schools in those cities spend $15,000 or $20,000 per student per year to turn out functional illiterates because the people involved in making all that money disappear are all idiots, do you? Louis Miriani was the last Republican mayor of Detroit. He left office on January 2, 1962. When Miriani gave up the mayor’s gavel to Jerome Cavanagh following a major upset in the 1961 elections, Detroit was the richest, most productive city in the world with a population of nearly two million. It had the richest black community in the world and an industrial output that dwarfed the vast majority of nations on earth. By 1967 Detroit was in flames thanks to the 12th Street Riots. Coleman Young, elected as the city’s first black mayor in 1973 and the third in a string of Democrat mayors, which as of this writing appears impossible to break, would oversee such an economic rout that a peculiar tradition called “Devil’s Night” was born. Arsonists would descend upon the city and burn large swaths of its dead industrial base the night before Halloween, with little response from the fire department. This went on for years. Today, Detroit’s population stands at 639,000, less than a third of what it was when Miriani said his farewell. It’s one of the poorest cities in America; the poverty rate in Detroit in 2019 was 31 percent, compared to 13 percent in Michigan as a whole and 10.5 percent nationally. Detroit’s public schools spend some $14,750 per student per year, ranking among the top ten most expensive in America, and yet in 2018 just 5 percent of fourth graders were proficient in reading and 4 percent proficient in math, the worst scores in the nation. The more middle-class voters you drive out of the city, and the fewer middle-class voters your public school system creates, the more pliable the electorate becomes. A pliable electorate is one you can rule forever without successfully governing. They rule over a ruin, but they rule. And the Democrat Party barely exists outside of the ruins those urban machines produce. Check out any county-by-country or congressional district-by-congressional district electoral map from the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections, and what you’ll see is a few islands of blue in a sea of red. Even in blue states like Washington, Oregon, Illinois, and Minnesota most of the territory is solidly Republican; it’s the dense population of Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, and the other big cities that always, or at least often, overwhelms Republican votes in the suburbs, exurbs, and small towns. *  *  * Scott McKay is publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and RVIVR.com, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at Amazon.com.  Tyler Durden Sat, 10/22/2022 - 19:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 22nd, 2022

Chinese Lab’s Purchase Of US Land For Primate Breeding Facility Draws Scrutiny

Chinese Lab’s Purchase Of US Land For Primate Breeding Facility Draws Scrutiny Authored by Eva Fu via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), A Chinese firm’s purchase of land in Florida to build a lab monkey breeding facility is drawing scrutiny over the company founders’ ties to the Chinese military. An engineer looks at monkey kidney cells as he make a test on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 virus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing, China, on April 29, 2020. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images) JOINN Laboratories CA Inc., the California subsidiary of a biotech firm headquartered in Beijing, in July purchased more than 1,400 acres of land for building a primate facility in Florida’s Levy County, county records show. With a combined value of $5.5 million, the 10 parcels of land purchased from L & T Cattle & Timber represents one of the largest known Chinese acquisitions of U.S. land in recent years. While construction has not begun, the deal has attracted public attention at a time of heightened concern about Chinese investments in the United States over security and other risks. The purchaser’s parent company JOINN Laboratories describes itself as a leader in non-clinical drug screening in China. According to its website, the company was founded in 1995 and employs over 1,500 staff. It has wholly-owned subsidiaries in major Chinese and U.S. cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Boston. Zhou Zhiwen and Feng Yuxia, the couple who founded and control JOINN Laboratories, both graduated from China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, in 1989 and 1992 respectively. The school is the Chinese military’s top medical institute, which was added to a U.S. trade blacklist last year for supplying biotechnology to the Chinese military. After graduating, both Zhou and Feng went on to work as researchers at the academy before establishing their business venture, according to Chinese media reports. Zuo Conglin, a board member of JOINN Laboratories, also graduated from the same academy. These links with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) should raise red flags, according to Rep. Scott Franklin (R-Fla.). “The idea that we would permit a … biotech firm with ties to the Chinese military to breed lab monkeys on U.S. soil is baffling, especially after China unleashed the Covid-19 pandemic on the world,” he told The Epoch Times. “The Biden administration allowing Chinese Communist Party affiliated companies to buy up American land is unacceptable, especially for these purposes. If the President won’t put his foot down to protect American interests, Congress will.” Future of Project Uncertain It’s unclear if JOINN Laboratories can proceed with its plans in Levy County. Because the purchased land is currently zoned for forestry and rural residential, the company would need to rezone the land to industrial to build its lab facility, the county said in a Sept. 22 statement. The county said that it had been asked about a possible rezoning of the land, and that it replied that “such a request would not receive a favorable staff recommendation” because of “compatibility” issues and that it would create “spot zoning,” referring to the controversial practice of singling out a piece of land for special zoning laws different from the zoning laws around it. A laboratory monkey interacts with employees in the breeding centre for cynomolgus macaques (longtail macaques) at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand at Chulalongkorn University in Saraburi, on May 23, 2020. (Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images) County officials, when reached by The Epoch Times in early October, said it hasn’t received such a formal rezoning request from JOINN Laboratories. The company did not publicly announce the sale and not much is known about the proposed breeding facility. JOINN Laboratories didn’t respond to an inquiry from The Epoch Times regarding the purchase and its plans for the site. It’s unclear whether the company intends to sell the lab monkeys in the United States, China, or elsewhere. Both countries have a high demand for primates for experimental use, and the United States exports a large portion of monkeys from China. According to Chinese media reports, the average cost for a long-tailed macaque, commonly used for lab research, paid by the Chinese regime has soared from around 30,000 yuan ($4,153) in 2019 to over 130,000 yuan (around $18,000) in early 2022. JOINN Laboratories currently owns about 18 acres of animal testing facilities in Beijing and Suzhou, a major city in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, according to its 2021 annual report. It is also building another primate breeding base with the capacity of raising 15,000 large animals in Wuzhou of southern China’s Guangxi Province. The quarantine station for the base is now complete, the report stated. Read more here... Tyler Durden Fri, 10/21/2022 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 21st, 2022

Plaxall Announces DesignStudio to Open New Studio Space in LIC Industrial Building

Long-time Long Island City (LIC) family business Plaxall announced today it signed a lease with global design agency DesignStudio to open a new hybrid work-focused studio in a former industrial building. DesignStudio’s move to LIC is part of a broader trend of businesses moving to neighborhoods outside of traditional business... The post Plaxall Announces DesignStudio to Open New Studio Space in LIC Industrial Building appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Long-time Long Island City (LIC) family business Plaxall announced today it signed a lease with global design agency DesignStudio to open a new hybrid work-focused studio in a former industrial building. DesignStudio’s move to LIC is part of a broader trend of businesses moving to neighborhoods outside of traditional business districts in favor of locations that are convenient to their workforce, offer a range of amenities, and are home to modern loft-style office spaces. DesignStudio has been redefining design strategy for brands around the world for over a decade from its offices in London, Sydney, and Shanghai, and is officially establishing its presence in New York with this new studio. Working with local interior design partners, Gala Magriñá Design, DesignStudio has spent the last few months renovating its new 4,200-square-foot loft space to create the optimum studio for collaboration no matter whether teams are virtual, in-person, or hybrid. The final layout offers a wide range of different working environments, as well as multiple places to do collaborative work. Access to natural light has been considered, as has using as many eco-friendly materials as possible. Art and decor have been curated to include many local LIC artists and to inspire a creative environment. “It is so exciting to continue DesignStudio’s global expansion and bring the company’s approach of radical collaboration to New York,” said Richard Swain, Principal, Americas, DesignStudio. “While we continue to support our team’s ability to work from all different corners of the world, it was important to us to establish an authentic hub in the States, where people–our employees, colleagues, and partners–can all come together to drive remarkable change. We chose Hunters Point specifically in an effort to integrate into a community that has not previously been home to many design companies; it presents a real opportunity for us to work with our neighbors and raise the profile of Queens-— and Long Island City—as a go-to place for emerging businesses.” “We are thrilled to welcome DesignStudio to its new home at the LIC Waterfront,” said Jordan Hare, Director of Planning at Plaxall. “An industrial hub that has evolved into a lively, eclectic and truly mixed-use neighborhood, the LIC waterfront offers a unique working environment that strongly appeals to today’s cutting-edge creatives. And our neighborhood’s many strengths – its unmatched transit and bike access to Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, its 20+ acres of new open space, and its vibrant mix of new bars and restaurants – are proving highly desirable to companies encouraging a return-to-work by locating closer to where their employees live.” The space is located on the third floor of 5-22/26 46th Avenue, a historic industrial brick building located steps from the waterfront and the Vernon Boulevard retail corridor, featuring large windows with sweeping views of the city, open floor plans, high ceilings, exposed beams, and polished concrete floors. It has long been a draw for a diverse mix of businesses, start-ups, and manufacturers looking for modern spaces in the heart of a 24-hour mixed-use community. Current tenants include a neon sign maker, a set designer and fabricator, a sound engineer; and two architecture firms. Located one block from the NYC ferry stop and minutes from the 7, G, E, and M trains, the site also offers unparalleled mass transit access. The post Plaxall Announces DesignStudio to Open New Studio Space in LIC Industrial Building appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyOct 20th, 2022

The warehouse boom turned tiny storefronts into hectic delivery hubs — and neighbors want them gone

As consumers demand faster delivery times, warehouses are pushing deeper into major metro areas, from mini-warehouses to huge fulfillment centers. A delivery hub for the ultrafast delivery company Gorillas in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is one of many so-called "dark stores."Erika Ramirez/InsiderGale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, was walking around the Upper West Side last fall when she noticed several new grocery stores in the neighborhood. They stood out, not because they had flashy signs or welcoming window displays but because they had nothing."It was covered with paper literally taped to the windows," Brewer said of one new arrival. Peering in, she saw rows of food and a bunch of delivery bicycles. She was mystified, she told Insider. "What's the store? Can I go in? I didn't know what it was."It was an outpost run by a rapid-delivery startup, Brewer learned. And it was just one of many that had arrived in New York City — as well as Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston — in the past year. They were launched by outfits like Gorillas, Jokr, Fridge No More, and Gopuff that promise doorstep delivery of everything from eggs to pizza in as little as 10 minutes.These well-funded startups, many of which pioneered their models in dense European neighborhoods, are part of an on-demand ecosystem whose growth is pushing big warehouses closer to the hearts of American cities and repurposing urban storefronts as mini warehouses. The reasoning is simple: Having stuff start closer to customers is one of the best ways to meet increasing demand for once-unheard-of delivery times.Like the ultrafast startups, bigger retailers want warehouse space in cities to deliver things faster. But real estate is more expensive in urban areas than in rural ones, prompting companies like Amazon to find warehouses with multiple stories."Warehouses in urban areas are in high demand because of their scarcity," the real-estate-investment trust Prologis wrote in a recent report on large, multilevel warehouses, another kind of space that's becoming more common in US cities.Former retail spaces in cities are also getting reworked into warehouses. Phoenix Logistics is retrofitting a former Sears warehouse outside Memphis to work better for e-commerce. The company has already done the same with other properties, such as a former JCPenney furniture outlet in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, which Amazon will operate.The former Whitestone Multiplex Cinemas in the Bronx is now a two-story warehouse and logistics center.Erika Ramirez/Insider"It's almost entirely driven by land costs," Robert Kriewaldt, Phoenix's senior vice president, said.It's why Amazon and Home Depot are the new tenants of a million-square-foot, two-story warehouse and logistics center that has taken the place of the Whitestone Multiplex Cinemas in the Bronx. Originally home to a drive-in theater, the 20-acre site will now see delivery vans and trucks rolling in and out."Way back in the beginning of e-commerce, companies' approach was one single warehouse in the middle of the country, and they tried to get to everyone from there," John Morris, the leader of industrial and logistics at the real-estate-services firm CBRE, said. "The other extreme of that is one single warehouse in everyone's backyard."Pushback builds within citiesSince 2010, developers have built 21 large warehouses in New York City — 10.3 million square feet in total, the equivalent about 14 LaGuardia airports. An analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund found these warehouses were responsible for 9,500 additional daily truck trips in the city since 2010.Trucks idling near warehouses create pollution "right where people are walking, playing, and going to school," said Aileen Nowlan, the policy director of global clean air at the Environmental Defense Fund.Environmental activists are pushing for regulations that would limit warehouse size and keep them away from schools, parks, and other warehouses, Gothamist has reported.Brewer and other councilmembers say the "dark stores" — a nod to the warehouses' (illegal) habit of papering over their windows — are marring the city's lively, walkable neighborhoods and threatening the livelihoods of bodegas and mom-and-pop supermarkets."The community just became dark," the councilmember Christopher Marte said of the influx of dark stores in his Lower East Side neighborhood. The son of a bodega owner, Marte cointroduced a series of bills that would mandate a weight limit for deliveries.Brewer is pressuring city-building and consumer-protection officials to ensure rapid-delivery stores follow the same rules as grocery stores and bodegas, including being open to the public and allowing walk-in customers to pay cash.The rapid-delivery players have scrambled to comply with various regulations, taking the paper off the windows and installing kiosks for walk-in customers. But the changes seem to prioritize the letter over the spirit of the law. Brewer tested one store by insisting on paying for a banana with cash. "They had to get a key that took about 10 minutes to open the cash register," she said.Some rapid-delivery players are trying to follow the rules by setting up indoor kiosks for pickup orders. Marte calls this a "loophole" that doesn't erase the fact that these are micro warehouses in urban areas.The Bronx Logistics Center is one of several large warehouses being constructed in the urban New York environment.Erika Ramirez/InsiderUltimately, Brewer said, consumers will decide the fate of the urban warehouses. For the dark stores, it doesn't look good. After growing quickly in US cities, rapid-grocery-delivery startups are flailing: European companies such as Fridge No More, Buyk, Jokr, and 1520 have shuttered or pulled out of the US. Getir, Gopuff, and Gorillas have laid off workers.But the larger warehouses opening on the edges of urban cores — like the movie theater turned Amazon hub in the Bronx — won't be so easily displaced. A depot within quick striking distance of millions of consumers is too valuable a commodity.CBRE forecasts that more warehouses will be built inside dense cities like New York. Urban warehousing allows for both faster and cheaper delivery, said Morris, and, for now, warehouse owners and retailers are willing to shoulder the higher costs."We're gradually moving down that spectrum," Morris said, "from where one warehouse was enough to where everyone needs their own warehouse in their backyard."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 19th, 2022

Monogram Foods, Paradigm Partners and Dacon Complete New Production Facility for the Northeast

Dacon Corporation has completed construction on a 135,000 SF facility for Monogram Foods, a leading manufacturer of value-added food products for their new location in Creek Brook Park, Haverhill, MA. Founded in 2004, the Memphis-based Monogram hasexperienced a 620% sales rate increase and topped $1B in revenue last year, consistently... The post Monogram Foods, Paradigm Partners and Dacon Complete New Production Facility for the Northeast appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Dacon Corporation has completed construction on a 135,000 SF facility for Monogram Foods, a leading manufacturer of value-added food products for their new location in Creek Brook Park, Haverhill, MA. Founded in 2004, the Memphis-based Monogram hasexperienced a 620% sales rate increase and topped $1B in revenue last year, consistently making it one of the Inc. 5000’s fastest growing companies. This facility is dedicated to pre-assembled sandwich manufacturing and is Monogram’s 4th Massachusetts location. The firm is bringing 355 positions to this location through 2023. With a business model based on quick responsivity in product innovation, private label and brand development, Monogram’s portfolio entails 10 meat snack brands spanning hot dogs, sausages, beef jerky and bacon, along with 1 licensed line, Butterball. Distribution is broadly spaced across retail, convenience, club, food service, military and drug store channels. This facility’s design optimizes production to meet consumer demand with 6 areas – freezer, cold storage, cool dock, dry goods storage, production and offices – configured for ease in employee access. Critical for operational efficiency, process engineering includes a state-of-the-art ammonia refrigeration system. Loading dock areas and parking have been configured to maximize a restricted site plan. Notes Karl Schledwitz, Monogram’s CEO, “This facility is created to fulfill increased demand by our valued customers across the country. Dacon has been an excellent and innovative partner from start to finish. We are proud of this project and proud to be part of the Haverhill community”. Paradigm Properties, an investor/operator/developer of office and industrial property, is the owner and developer. States Kevin McCall, Paradigm’s Chief Executive Officer, “Paradigm is excited to have helped Monogram significantly expand its operations in Massachusetts.  Through a challenging Covid environment, our contractor, Dacon Corporation, led a team effort with tremendous support from the City of Haverhill, our lender, LowellFive, and dedicated subcontractors.” Monogram, Paradigm Partners and Dacon partnered with Groundwork Lawrence to mark the event with a $20,000 ‘Growing Community’ program. Groundwork Lawrence is a nonprofit civic organization that focuses on environmental improvement, fresh food access, youth/adult education and employment initiatives to cities north of Boston. To support their mission of changing places and changing lives, 40 participants will receive a cooking and nutrition class, along with $100 in Market Basket gift cards and $100 in Groundwork Farmer’s Market gift cards to cook the recipes learned for their families. To encourage long-term food sustainability, 525 plants will be purchased for Groundwork’s 12 community gardens and a stipend provided to winterize the greenhouse. Comments Heather McMann, Executive Director, “Groundwork Lawrence creates building blocks for community through its programs in civic, environmentalism and healthy food initiatives. By providing current food support and longer-term garden sustainability, the Growing Community program addresses several needs. We appreciate the thoughtfulness and generosity that Monogram, Paradigm and Dacon extended in creating this comprehensive program.” Adds Lauren Nowicki, Chief Communications Officer of Dacon Corporation, “Dacon’s philanthropy Designed with Dignity believes that local organizations empower change on an impactful level equivalent to large scale charities. They create impressive and measurable differences in the lives of those communities in which we build. Groundwork Lawrence’s work is both extensive and remarkably effective for building civic responsibility, economic enhancementand productivity.” The post Monogram Foods, Paradigm Partners and Dacon Complete New Production Facility for the Northeast appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyOct 16th, 2022

RPM International (RPM) Boosts Investors" Value, Hikes Dividend

RPM International (RPM) rewards shareholders with a 5% quarterly dividend hike. RPM International Inc.’s RPM stock moved up 0.1% in after-hours trading on Oct 6, after it announced a hike of 5% in its quarterly cash dividend.This manufacturer of high-performance coatings, sealants and specialty chemicals raised the quarterly dividend payout to 42 cents per share (or $1.68 annually) from 40 cents (or $1.60 annually). The amount will be paid on Oct 31, 2022, to shareholders of record as of Oct 17. Based on the closing price of $94.92 per share on Oct 6, 2022, the stock has a dividend yield of 1.72%.This move highlights the company’s sound and stable financial position and its commitment to reward shareholders regularly. RPM has been driving shareholders’ value through regular dividend payments and this marks the company’s 49th consecutive year of increasing its cash dividend.RPM’s chairman and CEO Frank C. Sullivan stated, “The incredible efforts of RPM associates and their ability to collaboratively address the challenges we’ve faced have enabled RPM to continue to drive growth, at the same time we are achieving greater operational efficiency across all our businesses.”Strong Q1 Performance & Q2 OutlookRPM reported impressive results for first-quarter fiscal 2023. Earnings and sales topped their respective Zacks Consensus Estimate and increased on a year-over-year basis. Despite supply chain woes, cost inflation, macroeconomic challenges and foreign exchange headwinds, RPM benefited from the implementation of MAP operational improvement initiatives, double-digit sales growth across the segments and strong pricing.For second-quarter fiscal 2023, RPM International expects sales to increase 9-12% year over year. Consolidated adjusted EBIT is expected to increase 30-40% from the year-ago period’s levels.Solid Acquisitions & Operational EfficiencyRPM follows a systematic inorganic strategy to enhance its portfolio. Acquisitions have been an important part of RPM’s growth strategy. During fiscal 2022, the company completed eight acquisitions in three segments. Most notably, it acquired a chemical manufacturing facility located in Corsicana, TX, within the CPG segment. Also, it acquired a Clearwater, FL-based indoor air quality solutions provider. The company remains focused on prudent strategic growth investments in fiscal 2022, including two acquisitions and a large manufacturing facility. This is expected to improve resiliency, capacity and efficiency. For fiscal 2022, acquisitions contributed 1.4% to sales.RPM has a diverse portfolio of market-leading brands, including Rust-Oleum, DAP, Zinsser, Varathane, DayGlo, Legend Brands, Stonhard, Carboline, Tremco and Dryvit. This helps it mitigate various market-related risks and gives it an edge over its peers. Also, the company is well on track to reduce costs by closing plants, merging IT systems, centralizing more of its back-office functions and rationalizing its manufacturing footprint.Implementation of MAP 2025 Operational PlanIn August, RPM unveiled a MAP 2025 (Margin Achievement Plan) operational improvement initiative. After completing the 2020 MAP to Growth Plan, RPM International expects to accelerate growth, maximize operational efficiencies and generate superior value for its customers, associates and shareholders via MAP 2025. By May 2025 end, RPM projects to achieve $8.5 billion of annual revenues, 42% gross margin and 16% adjusted EBIT margin.Shares of RPM have gained 18.7% against the Zacks Paints and Related Products industry’s 5.1% fall in the past three months. Robust construction and industrial maintenance activity, a rebound in the energy markets and its investment in the fastest-growing areas of its business are expected to boost price performance in the future.Zacks Rank & Key PicksCurrently, RPM carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. WMS: Headquartered in Hilliard, OH, this company provides innovative water management solutions in stormwater and on-site septic wastewater industries. Despite a challenging operating environment, the material conversion strategy, complete water management solutions and focus on key sales programs have been driving Advanced Drainage Systems’ growth.WMS currently carries a Zacks Rank #1. Earnings estimates for fiscal 2023 have increased to $6.39 per share from $4.23 over the past 60 days. The estimated figure calls for an 79.5% increase from the year-ago period.Boise Cascade Company BCC: Boise, ID-based Boise Cascade — which makes wood products and distributes building materials in the United States and Canada — is aided by favorable commodity wood products, pricing and robust construction activity.Boise Cascade currently carries a Zacks Rank #1. Earnings estimates for 2022 have moved north to $20.48 per share from $20.06 over the past 30 days. The estimated figure calls for a 14% increase from the year-ago period.Dycom Industries, Inc. DY: Dycom Industries is benefiting from the higher demand for network bandwidth and mobile broadband, extended geography, proficient program management and network planning services. Dycom expects considerable opportunities across a broad array of customers.Dycom currently carries a Zacks Rank #1. Earnings estimates for 2022 have moved north to $3.68 per share from $3.28 over the past 60 days. The estimated figure calls for a 142.1% increase from the year-ago period. This Little-Known Semiconductor Stock Could Be Your Portfolio’s Hedge Against Inflation Everyone uses semiconductors. But only a small number of people know what they are and what they do. If you use a smartphone, computer, microwave, digital camera or refrigerator (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), you have a need for semiconductors. That’s why their importance can’t be overstated and their disruption in the supply chain has such a global effect. But every cloud has a silver lining. Shockwaves to the international supply chain from the global pandemic have unearthed a tremendous opportunity for investors. And today, Zacks' leading stock strategist is revealing the one semiconductor stock that stands to gain the most in a new FREE report. It's yours at no cost and with no obligation.>>Yes, I Want to Help Protect My Portfolio During the RecessionWant the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (WMS): Free Stock Analysis Report Dycom Industries, Inc. (DY): Free Stock Analysis Report RPM International Inc. (RPM): Free Stock Analysis Report Boise Cascade, L.L.C. (BCC): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 8th, 2022

Ware Malcomb Project Awarded 2022 Oshawa Urban Design Award of Excellence by City of Oshawa

Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm, announced one of its projects, 1121 and 1147 Thornton Road South, has been awarded the 2022 Oshawa Urban Design Award of Excellence by the City of Oshawa.  The project consists of two multi-unit industrial buildings designed for Panattoni Development Company Canada. The buildings, totaling more than... The post Ware Malcomb Project Awarded 2022 Oshawa Urban Design Award of Excellence by City of Oshawa appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Ware Malcomb, an award-winning international design firm, announced one of its projects, 1121 and 1147 Thornton Road South, has been awarded the 2022 Oshawa Urban Design Award of Excellence by the City of Oshawa.  The project consists of two multi-unit industrial buildings designed for Panattoni Development Company Canada. The buildings, totaling more than 630,000 square feet are situated on a 27-acre site at 1121 and 1147 Thornton Road South, in Oshawa, Ontario. “We are proud to have worked closely with Panattoni Development to design innovative, flexible structures that support employee wellbeing and are a source of pride for this city. said Frank Di Roma, Principal for Ware Malcomb. “We are in good company on this year’s list and congratulate all the winners.” With a focus on occupant wellbeing and comfort, the design ensures natural light flows into the warehouses through large, punched out windows. The rear building loading docks feature covered canopies that provide shelter from the natural elements. Drive-in doors and mechanical louvers allow natural air to flow through the warehouses. To create an environment that is accessible and useable by all, all entrances have barrier-free access and on-site bike racks to accommodate cyclists. The development’s modern exterior design features a blend of white precast ribbed panels that includes curtain walls and ACM panels at the main entrances and midpoint of the building. The main entrances have a controlled blend of massing between the ACM panels and curtain walls. The building exterior features bronze, deep blue and silver ACM paired with bronze spandrel panels and bronze vision glass. The land between the two buildings was maximized with the creation of a functional shared courtyard for loading docks and trailer parking that is screened from the main road. To boost energy efficiency, the buildings feature white roofs, precast panels made with a blend of recycled concrete, LED wall/packs, LED poles and a full sprinkler system. The site is enhanced by drought-resistant landscape design that reduces water consumption. The 2022 Urban Design Award of Excellence awards, hosted by the City of Oshawa, celebrate projects that show excellent design and enhance Oshawa’s image. They acknowledge the contributions that architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, developers, and builders make to Oshawa’s appearance and quality of life. Eleven local projects were honored as 2022 winners and the list can be viewed here. The post Ware Malcomb Project Awarded 2022 Oshawa Urban Design Award of Excellence by City of Oshawa appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyOct 6th, 2022

Fluor"s (FLR) Regular Contract Flow Bode Well, Competition Ail

Fluor (FLR) is benefiting from the solid contract flow and Building a Better Future strategy. Yet, intense competition ail. Fluor Corporation FLR has been witnessing regular contract flow for its businesses. In sync with this, Fluor recently received a multi-hundred-million-dollar reimbursable contract from a leading biologics company.Per this contract, FLR will perform procurement and construction management services for a Scandinavia-based large scale biologics drug substance manufacturing facility. Scheduled to be operational by 2025, this facility will produce new capacity for advanced biologics that are used in various treatments, including vaccines, oncology and quality-of-life medicines.Fluor’s Advanced Technologies & Life Sciences business is leading the project. It will book the contract value in its third-quarter 2022 backlog.In addition to this contract, FLR also won a 4-year, $4.5 billion contract extension from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC (SRNS). This management and operating contract has an additional one-year option and a total reimbursable contract value of $12 billion for five years.Tom D’Agostino, group president of Fluor’s Mission Solutions business, stated, “This extension represents the DOE’s confidence in our performance to help safeguard our nation’s security and deliver on the important mission at the site.”Solid Contract Flow & Strategic Moves Aid FLR BusinessFluor’s market diversity remains a key strength that helps the company mitigate the cyclicality of the markets in which it operates. The company’s strategy of maintaining a good business portfolio mix permits it to focus on more stable business markets and capitalize on developing cyclical markets at suitable times.Fluor has been focusing on the “Building a Better Future” strategy that includes four strategic priorities for driving shareholders’ value. The first strategy is to drive growth across portfolios by enhancing the markets outside the traditional oil and gas sector, including energy transition, advanced technology and life sciences, high-demand metals, infrastructure and mission solutions. The second one aims to pursue contracts with fair and balanced commercial terms that reward value, with a bias toward reimbursable contracts. Third, it intends to reinforce financial discipline and maintain a solid balance sheet by generating predictable cash flow and earnings. The last strategy is fostering a high-performance culture with purpose by advancing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and promoting social progress and sustainability.This industry leader in nuclear remediation at government facilities throughout the United States is expected to benefit from the rising demand for energy across the globe. Fluor also has exclusive rights to service NuScale nuclear projects, the first of which is already in the pipeline.2022 Prospects Looks GoodThe company exited 2021 with a healthy ending backlog of $18.9 billion and a total backlog of $20.8 billion. For second-quarter 2022, the ending backlog totaled $19.52 billion with new bookings of $3.55 billion (versus $1.7 billion in the year-ago period). Management expects bookings to be solid in the rest of 2022 and help it achieve a $2.50-$2.90 per share gross margin by 2024.For 2022, Fluor expects an adjusted EPS of $1.15-$1.35 per share from continuing operations. It expects adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $380 million to $430 million. In 2022, it assumes increased opportunities for new awards across all segments and continued progress on the company's cost optimization program. The assumptions for 2022 include revenue similar to 2021, adjusted G&A expense of $50 million per quarter and a second-half effective tax rate of approximately 36%. The company anticipates segment margins in the second half of 2022 to be approximately 5% in Energy Solutions, 4.5% in Urban Solutions and 3.5% in Mission Solutions.Industry Woes AilFLR and other Zacks Engineering - R and D Services industry players like Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. J, AECOM ACM and Quanta Services Inc. PWR have been working in a highly-fragmented industry. The increasing competition, coupled with the inclination toward globalization, has triggered a consolidation trend across all industries, especially in the engineering and construction sector. The power market is extremely competitive and Fluor continues to face a series of challenges in this market. Amid the prevailing uncertainty, the companies are coming together via mergers and acquisitions to thrive in the global economy.A Brief Discussion of the Above-Mentioned StocksJacobs is one of the leading providers of professional, technical and construction services to industrial, commercial and governmental clients.J’s expected earnings growth rate for fiscal 2022 is 10.3%.AECOM provides professional, technical and management solutions to diverse industries across end markets like transportation, facilities, government and environmental, energy and water businesses.ACM’s expected earnings growth rate for fiscal 2022 is 22.7%.Quanta is a leading national provider of specialty contracting services and one of the largest contractors serving the transmission and distribution sector of the North American electric utility industry.PWR’s expected earnings growth rate for 2022 is 27.2%. 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days Just released: Experts distill 7 elite stocks from the current list of 220 Zacks Rank #1 Strong Buys. They deem these tickers "Most Likely for Early Price Pops." Since 1988, the full list has beaten the market more than 2X over with an average gain of +24.8% per year. So be sure to give these hand-picked 7 your immediate attention. See them now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Quanta Services, Inc. (PWR): Free Stock Analysis Report Fluor Corporation (FLR): Free Stock Analysis Report AECOM (ACM): Free Stock Analysis Report Jacobs Solutions Inc. (J): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 3rd, 2022