Duval County seeks back taxes from Hostess bakery
Before Flowers Foods Inc. is allowed to buy up 20 bread bakeries from Hostess Brands Inc., the Duval County Tax Collector wants to make sure the back taxes are paid on Hostess' Jacksonville bakery.
The Tax Collector's office last week filed an objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to Flowers' acquisition of the Hostess Brands Inc. bread business, seeking to ensure the taxes are paid as part of the deal.
A court hearing is scheduled this week to approve the deal.
The objection lists several tax claims by the county against Hostess and its subsidiaries, including unpaid real property taxes of $95,463 for 2011, $92,936 for 2012 and an estimated $72,880 for 2013 for the bakery at 201 E. Busch Drive.
Hostess closed the plant in November when it shut down all of its businesses.
The Tax Collector says in the filing that it is a secured creditor that should have a priority claim on proceeds from the sale of the Hostess bakeries.
In addition to bankruptcy court approval, Hostess CEO Greg Rayburn said in an interview on Bloomberg Television last week that the U.S. Justice Department is reviewing the deal.
"We are working closely with Flowers and the DOJ to clear those hurdles," he said.
Rayburn also said Flowers and other companies that have agreed to buy other Hostess brands, including Twinkies, have not negotiated with unions over the fate of workers who lost their jobs when the company shut down.
"That's an issue that's strictly up to the buyers," he said.
Hostess employed 128 people at its Jacksonville bakery and Flowers has not said if any of them will be offered jobs once the sale is completed. Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers already operates its own bread bakery in Jacksonville.
Ocwen confirms closure of Homeward Jacksonville office
After warning last month of a mass layoff at Homeward Residential Inc. — but not talking about it —Homeward's parent company quietly confirmed that it is closing down its Jacksonville office.
Ocwen Financial Corp. acquired Homeward in December. Then in February, Homeward filed a notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN, that it could cut 370 jobs at its Jacksonville office between April and August. Atlanta-based Ocwen did not respond to media inquiries about the WARN notice.
However, during Ocwen's fourth-quarter conference call with analysts two weeks later, CEO Ron Faris mentioned, almost as an aside, that the company is closing the Jacksonville office as it consolidates operations.
Atlanta-based Ocwen has become one of the largest U.S. mortgage banking companies after two acquisitions late last year. In addition to buying Homeward, it also acquired assets of Residential Capital LLC, or ResCap, in a bankruptcy court auction.
Those two deals increased Ocwen's mortgage servicing portfolio to almost $470 billion, making it one of the five largest mortgage servicers in the country.
"Our servicing integration for Homeward and ResCap is proceeding according to plan," Faris said in the conference call.
"We would expect to move all of Homeward's private label servicing to Ocwen's platform by the end of April. We are consolidating ResCap and Homeward operations in Dallas, and we will be closing down Homeward's Jacksonville operation," he said.
Faris gave no other details.
Homeward, which is currently located at 4875 Belfort Road in Jacksonville, was formerly known as American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc.
The Texas-based company changed its name to Homeward Residential last year before the Ocwen acquisition.
Snow joins LPS board
Jacksonville-based Lender Processing Services Inc. announced last week that former U.S. Treasury Secretary and CSX Corp. Chief Executive Officer John Snow has joined its board of directors.
Snow served as CEO of CSX from 1989-2003, when he was appointed treasury secretary by President George W. Bush.
CSX's corporate headquarters were located in Richmond, Va., during Snow's tenure as CEO, even though its railroad operating headquarters were in Jacksonville. The company had far more employees in Jacksonville than Richmond.
Michael Ward was located in Jacksonville as president of the railroad operations and shortly after he was appointed to succeed Snow as CEO, the corporate headquarters of the Fortune 500 company officially moved to Jacksonville.
Snow resigned as treasury secretary in 2006 and was succeeded by Goldman Sachs Group Chairman Henry Paulson.
Snow currently serves as president of consulting firm JWS Associates LLC and as chairman of investment firm Cerberus Capital Management LP.
EverBank drops on downgrade
After reaching a new high the previous week, EverBank Financial Corp. posted one of the biggest percentage declines on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday as one analyst downgraded his rating on the stock.
"We believe EverBank's prospects are bright," Sterne Agee analyst Peyton Green said in a research note. But he downgraded the stock from "buy" to "neutral" because of the runup in the share price.
Green said EverBank was trading at 8.7 times his estimated 2014 earnings in May 2012, shortly after its initial public offering, when he rated the bank as a buy. The price-to-earnings ratio had increased to 10.8 when he lowered the rating.
EverBank's stock fell $1.14 to $15.58 Tuesday after Green's downgrade.
EverBank went public at $10 a share and reached a high of $17.29 two weeks ago.
Interline reports 2012 loss
After a buyout of the company by two private equity firms, Interline Brands Inc. last week reported a net loss of $3.7 million for the fourth quarter and $15.6 million for all of 2012, due to merger-related expenses and increased interest and depreciation and amortization costs related to the buyout.
Sales for the year rose 5.8 percent to $1.3 billion.
CEO Michael Grebe viewed the year as a success for the Jacksonville-based distributor of maintenance, operations and repair products.
"In 2012 we committed to driving improved results from our strategic initiatives and capitalizing on the opportunities in our markets. I am pleased to say that we delivered on both fronts," Grebe said in a news release.
Florida East Coast Holdings reports loss
Another company bought out by a private equity firm, Florida East Coast Holdings Corp., also reported a loss because of high interest expense.
The Jacksonville-based company, which operates the Florida East Coast Railway from Jacksonville to Miami, had a net loss of $13.3 million in 2012. The company has lost money every year since it was acquired by funds affiliated with Fortress Investment Group in 2007.
Fortegra postpones yearend report
Fortegra Financial Corp. was scheduled to report its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings last week, but the Jacksonville-based insurance services company said the report will be delayed.
In a news release, Fortegra said "the delay is intended to allow the Company additional time to properly account for certain accruals for the fourth quarter of 2012 and to obtain review by its independent accounting firm and audit committee. The delay is caused by the unexpected medical leave of a key accounting officer responsible for the financial operations of the related business unit."
Fortegra said it still expects to file its year-end reports by April 1.
Horizon results affected by change in Jacksonville
Ocean freight company Horizon Lines Inc. last week said its fourth-quarter results were affected by a decision to cut back service from Jacksonville.
Horizon in January cut back its service between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico, from twice a week to one ship a week, leaving Jacksonville on Thursday evenings and arriving in San Juan on Sundays.
The company said it incurred a $4.3 million restructuring charge related to that move.
"We expect the Jacksonville schedule change, combined with our decision announced last week to move the northeast service to Philadelphia (from Elizabeth, N.J.), will produce lasting cost efficiencies while further improving customer service. These steps should allow Horizon Lines to strengthen the financial performance of our Puerto Rico trade lane and invest in the business over the long term," Horizon CEO Sam Woodward said in a news release.
Horizon reported an adjusted net loss of $12.8 million, or 38 cents a share, in the fourth quarter.
Washington Post stock jumps
The Washington Post Co.'s pricey stock jumped by $21.26, or 5.1 percent, to $438.26 Wednesday. Bloomberg News reported it was the biggest one-day rise in the stock in two years.
There was no new news from or about the company to account for the rise.
The Washington Post's media holdings include Jacksonville television station WJXT TV-4.