Dick’s Wings owner moves headquarters out of Jacksonville
After changes in ownership and management over the past year, American Restaurant Concepts Inc. has moved its headquarters office from Jacksonville to Lafayette, La.
However, the company, which franchises the Dick's Wings and Grill chain, says it will continue to maintain its Jacksonville office and plans to expand it.
Michael Rosenberger, who resigned as CEO of American Restaurant Concepts last month, sold more than 40 percent of the company's stock to two investors with Louisiana ties. That made it logical to move the headquarters, but the company's operations are centered in Jacksonville.
It currently franchises 16 Dick's Wings restaurants in Florida and one in Georgia.
An American Restaurant Concepts spokeswoman said the company will continue to maintain a Jacksonville office for its franchise operations team and expects to grow it, but she said the company is not disclosing its current number of employees.
American Restaurant Concepts' 2012 annual report said the company had only three employees.
The company said in a July Securities and Exchange Commission filing that Rosenberger was resigning but did not name an immediate replacement.
However, in another SEC filing earlier this month, it said Richard Akam was appointedCEO, chief financial officer and secretary.
Akam joined American Restaurant Concepts in January as chief operating officer after a long career in the wings-oriented restaurant business, including eight years as CEO of Hooters of America.
The new ownership and management team is looking to grow the company.
"We have substantially completed the turnaround of our franchisees' operations and are now ready to focus on the more elaborate phase of our growth plan," Akam said in a news release last week announcing second-quarter results.
"This will include the opening of additional Dick's Wings restaurants in Florida and other locations across the country, and the expansion of the company through new brands that we will franchise," he said.
American Restaurant Concepts reported a net loss of $127,901 in the second quarter, but revenue rose 41 percent to $150,209.
The company generates revenue from royalties and franchise fees. It expects revenue to grow for the rest of the year as football season, along with new promotional campaigns, attracts more customers.
It also said "consumer demand for chicken wings, and in particular boneless chicken wings, continues to rise while the cost of chicken wings has been trending down."
Fortegra beats analysts' forecasts
After a couple of disappointing quarters, Fortegra Financial Corp. last week reported earnings that beat analysts' expectations.
Jacksonville-based Fortegra, which provides services for insurance companies, reported adjusted earnings of 23 cents a share for the second quarter, 3 cents higher than last year and 5 cents higher than the average forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.
"Our second quarter built on the progress of our first quarter as the business generated favorable returns despite an unpredictable and challenging market," Chairman and CEO Richard Kahlbaugh said in a conference call with analysts.
Revenue rose 41 percent to $100.1 million, and Kahlbaugh said the company is doing a good job of controlling expenses.
"I have made it clear to the entire organization that we must remain keenly focused on expenses as we expect the market environment to remain uncertain," he said.
The market environment has been impacted by financial reforms coming from the federal government.
"Management alluded to several positive business trends in each of the underlying business segments and a positive outlook for the rest of 2013, but regulatory uncertainty, particularly from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, continues to mute demand for many of Fortegra's products," William Blair & Co. analyst Adam Klauber said in a research note.
Klauber said he is maintaining his "market perform" rating on the stock.
"The stock has decent long-term potential and appears to be attractively valued," Klauber said.
"Longer term, the valuation multiple has the potential to expand if the company can consistently demonstrate the ability to grow revenues organically, execute additional acquisitions, and get margins back to historical levels," he said.
Kahlbaugh said revenue growth is tough in the current environment.
"It is difficult in the short-term for Fortegra to realize its full potential until our clients return to their prior levels of sales and marketing activity," he said.
Flowers in no hurry to reopen Hostess bakeries
Flowers Foods Inc. is confident about market demand for the bread brands it acquired from bankrupt Hostess Brands Inc., but Flowers is in no hurry to reopen the shuttered Hostess bakeries, including one in Jacksonville.
Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers last month completed the acquisition of 20 Hostess bakeries and the bread brands after submitting the winning bid for those operations in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
In the company's quarterly conference call last week, CEO Allen Shiver said Flowers is working on plans to reintroduce the Hostess brands into the market, which include Merita (which was made at the Jacksonville bakery), Wonder and Nature's Pride.
However, it is not immediately reopening the Hostess bakeries, which were shut down last November.
"The 20 bakeries we acquired from Hostess are strategically located across the country. One of the questions we often hear is, 'when will we reopen the Hostess bakeries?' At this point, we're able to meet consumer demand through our existing bakeries," Shiver said.
"We're confident that consumer demand will increase as we reintroduce the Hostess bread brands. As we need additional production capacity, we plan to reopen bakeries," he said.
Flowers' media relations department has not responded to phone messages about the Hostess bakery in Jacksonville, which employed 128 people when it was closed. Flowers already operates one of its own bread and bun bakeries in Jacksonville.
Shiver expressed optimism about the Hostess brands returning to the market.
"The Hostess bread brands have been off the market since Nov. 16, 2012, but our research gives us confidence that the brands have staying power with consumers and with retail customers," he said.
Shiver said the iconic Wonder Bread brand "once had the highest household penetration of any brand in the white bread segment" in the U.S.
Merita and the other brands "have strength in selected regional markets," he said.
"We plan to reintroduce the brands in a way that will enhance consumer choices, strengthen the overall category for retail customers, build our distributors' business and, of course, positively impact the Flowers Foods bottom line," Shiver said.
Flowers reported adjusted second-quarter earnings of 24 cents a share, 10 cents higher than last year. Sales rose 32 percent to $898.2 million.
Web.com stock rebounds on analyst report
Web.com Group Inc.'s stock dipped a bit after the Jacksonville-based company announced a new debt offering, but it rebounded last week after one analyst wrote a favorable report on the move.
Web.com's stock fell $1.27 to $26.89 on Aug. 9 after announcing it was issuing $225 million in senior notes that can be converted into stock, cash or a combination of both.
However, the stock began rebounding last Monday after FBR Capital Markets analyst David Hilal pointed out that the company is using this debt offering to reduce its interest costs.
"Over the last six quarters, Web.com reduced its effective interest rate from 7.6 percent to 4.4 percent via debt repayments and repricings, and we believe the company is showing prudence by taking advantage of an improvement in its fundamentals and a low interest rate environment to further reduce its interest burden," Hilal said in his research note.
"We would expect these savings to be primarily reinvested in the business to drive accelerating revenue growth and, to a lesser extent, further debt reduction," he said.
Hilal also said he doesn't expect any shares of stock issued when the notes are converted to materially dilute the company's current shares outstanding.
Web.com's stock got back to a high of $29.11 by Thursday, close to its recent record high of $29.48, even as the overall stock market faltered.
World Point Terminals completes IPO
World Point Terminals LP priced its initial public offering of 8.75 million common units at $20 per unit, the midpoint of its hoped-for price range of $19 to $21.
St. Louis-based World Point Terminals was formed to operate the oil storage terminals of Center Point Terminal Co., which include a recently expanded facility in Jacksonville.
World Point operates terminals and other oil storage facilities in the East Coast, Gulf Coast and Midwest.
Its common units, which represent limited partner interests, trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "WPT."
Stakool loses lease
Stakool Inc., which moved its headquarters from Jacksonville to Alpharetta, Ga., earlier this year, has lost its lease on its Jacksonville office.
In its quarterly report filed with the SEC, Stakool said it signed a three-year lease for an office in Jacksonville that commenced on Nov. 1, 2010, but the landlord has cancelled the lease.
Stakool, which had been marketing a line of natural and organic food products, reported no revenue for the second quarter.