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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 5, 202105:10 AM EST

Dun & Bradstreet CEO says Jacksonville a strategic location to 'innovate and grow'

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The $25 million in state and city incentives made the decision to bring HQ to city easy, Anthony Jabbour says.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Dun & Bradstreet Holdings Inc. reported a slight increase in revenue and flat earnings for the second quarter.

Of course, the business data firm’s big news in the second quarter was its May 20 announcement that it is moving its corporate headquarters to Jacksonville.

“We look to leverage this strategic location to help us to continue to innovate and grow, as well as benefit from substantial state and local financial incentives that made this move an easy one,” CEO Anthony Jabbour said in Dun & Bradstreet’s Aug. 3 conference call with analysts.

Dun & Bradstreet is getting $25 million in city and state incentives to move to Jacksonville, with the promise of hiring 500 people.

Jabbour is also CEO of Jacksonville-based mortgage technology firm Black Knight Inc. Responding to an analyst’s question, Jabbour said that was a factor in the move.

“With the headquarters change, I’ll certainly have more time to put towards Dun & Bradstreet, less time traveling. So that was a bonus in addition to the financial incentives that we’ve got in terms of moving headquarters and giving us some of the great pool of talent to go after. So that was a key part of it,” he said.

Dun & Bradstreet bought a 218,700-square-foot office building June 30 for $76.6 million for its headquarters.

The building, called Town Center II, is across Butler Boulevard from the St. Johns Town Center. It was built in 2019 as the headquarters for Jacksonville-based Web.com

Web.com, now known as Newfold Digital Inc., and SoFi occupy space in the building. 

Dun & Bradstreet’s quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission said the company will receive $14 million in rent from “the existing tenant” over the next 10 years, but it didn’t specify which tenant.

The company’s Aug. 3 news release of its earnings had a Jacksonville dateline, but its headquarters is still officially listed with the SEC as Short Hills, New Jersey.

It is expected to move into the new office before the end of summer.

Dun & Bradstreet reported revenue rose 24.4% to $520.9 million in the second quarter, largely because of its acquisition of Bisnode Business Information Group AB, a European data and analytics firm based in Sweden.

Dun & Bradstreet paid $806 million in cash and stock to acquire Bisnode in January.

Aside from the acquisition, organic revenue rose 3.3% in the quarter.

Adjusted earnings of 25 cents a share were a penny lower than the second quarter of 2020.

Fidelity earnings surge 91%

Black Knight is a significant investor in Dun & Bradstreet with 12.7% of the stock, and investment firm Cannae Holdings Inc. owns 17.8%. Both Black Knight and Cannae were spun off from Jacksonville-based title insurance firm Fidelity National Financial Inc.

Fidelity Aug. 3 reported second-quarter adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $2.06 a share, up from $1.08 the previous year, a 91% increase.

Revenue jumped 59% to $3.85 billion.

Fidelity’s results were helped by the acquisition last year of annuity and life insurance company F&G, Chairman Bill Foley said in a news release.

“We are building a company that has a financial model designed to deliver earnings and cash flow through changing market environments. One year in, we can already see the early signs of our success,” he said.

Fidelity’s core title insurance business also did well in the quarter, with revenue growing 49% to $3 billion.

Fidelity also said Aug. 3 it is increasing its quarterly cash dividend by 4 cents a share to 40 cents.

Foley said the increase is part of the company’s strategy of “returning capital to shareholders, while making necessary investments in our businesses to drive growth.”

Foley is also chairman of Dun & Bradstreet but Fidelity is not an investor in the business data company.

FIS revenue, earnings increase

Another company spun off from Fidelity National Financial, Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Information Services Inc., reported Aug. 3 a big increase in second-quarter earnings.

The financial technology company known as FIS said revenue rose 17% to $3.48 billion and earnings rose by 46 cents a share to $1.61.

CEO Gary Norcross said in the company’s conference call that investments made in new technology during the pandemic are helping FIS gain clients and grow revenue.

Reuters news service reported two weeks ago that FIS is seeking to sell parts of its business that provides technology for capital markets services. When asked by an analyst about that, Norcross said he wouldn’t comment on rumors but gave some hints about the company’s plans.

“We signaled recently that we pushed some things into our other segment as non-strategic. Would we divest things in the portfolio that don’t fit our overall strategy? We’ve done that historically,” he said.

FRP Holdings seeks infrastructure benefits

FRP Holdings Inc. is mainly a commercial real estate developer, but the Jacksonville-based company also owns land leased for mining to construction materials businesses.

With Congress working to pass major infrastructure spending legislation, FRP is hoping to benefit.

“Royalty revenues were the highest in our history and the likelihood of passage of a federal infrastructure bill gives us an expectation that the royalty earnings will continue their secular growth,” Executive Chairman John Baker said in FRP’s Aug. 3 conference call.

Mining royalty revenue rose 9.7% in the second quarter to $2.63 million.

The company was formed as a subsidiary of Jacksonville-based construction aggregates company Florida Rock Industries Inc. but was spun off as a separate company.

Vulcan Materials Co., which acquired Florida Rock for $4.2 billion in 2007, is the largest customer for FRP’s mining properties, accounting for about a third of its 2020 royalties.

FRP’s total second-quarter revenue jumped 45.2% to $8.5 million.

After several special items, FRP had net income of $82,000, or 1 cent a share, in the quarter.

Patriot deals with driver shortage

Patriot Transportation Holding Inc. last week reported lower earnings for its third quarter ended June 30, as driver shortages continue to impact the trucking industry.

“The driver shortage and related hiring and turnover challenges worsened during the second quarter and early part of the third quarter of this year,” CEO Rob Sandlin said in the company’s conference call.

Jacksonville-based Patriot transports fuel throughout the Southeast. As petroleum demand returned to pre-pandemic levels, the lack of available drivers made it difficult to serve customers.

“The impact of this shortage has been felt across all markets we serve,” Sandlin said.

Patriot implemented a pay increase of at least 15% for drivers at the end of April.

“The results have been a reduction in the number of voluntary terminations and an improvement in driver turnover, but we are still experiencing turnover and have yet to see a dramatic increase in driver applicants,” Sandlin said.

Patriot’s revenue rose 9.7% in the quarter to $20.9 million but with expenses increasing, earnings fell by 8 cents a share to 9 cents.

Patriot was formed as a subsidiary of Florida Rock and was spun off.

WM integrating Advanced Disposal

Halfway through 2020, Waste Management Inc. is nearly halfway through integrating the operations of Advanced Disposal Services Inc.

Waste Management completed its $4.6 billion acquisition of Ponte Vedra-based Advanced Disposal on Oct. 30, 2020.

“To date, we’ve combined around 45% of the ADS operations into our billing and operational systems, which has allowed us to capture synergies and provide additional services to those customers,” Chief Operating Officer John Morris said in Waste Management’s conference call last week, according to a company transcript.

“We are on track to migrate virtually all the ADS customers by the end of the year,” he said.

Houston-based Waste Management said the addition of Advanced Disposal added $305 million in revenue to its waste services business in the second quarter. Waste Management’s total revenue rose 25.7% in the quarter to $4.48 billion.

The company also said it expects to realize $80 million to $85 million in cost savings this year from integrating the operations and it’s on track to eventually reach $150 million in annual savings.

The waste services industry is also dealing with labor shortages during the pandemic recovery.

“We’re seeing it easing at this point because we’re hiring,” CEO James Fish said.

He said Waste Management hired 685 drivers and technicians in June, more than offsetting the 125 employees who left.

“So, the net addition was pretty significant to replace some of these folks that have decided to sit on the sidelines because of the government programs that are out there,” Fish said.

“Right now, at least in the United States, the federal benefits are scheduled to roll off on the sixth of September. It’s not a stretch to say that there isn’t a business out there that isn’t looking forward to the sixth of September,” he said.

St. Joe revenue doubles

The St. Joe Co. last week said second-quarter revenue doubled to $72.2 million.

Earnings rose 26% to $24.2 million, but last year’s earnings were lifted by an after-tax gain of $11.6 billion from a land transfer deal.

St. Joe’s business is growing as it expands its residential, commercial and hotel development projects in the Florida Panhandle.

The company long headquartered in Jacksonville moved its offices to the Panhandle in 2010 and is now based in Panama City Beach.

Auto Masters Fleet Services sold

FleetPride Inc. last week said it acquired the assets of Jacksonville-based Auto Masters Fleet Services, which provides maintenance services for heavy duty trucks in Florida and south Georgia.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

Irving, Texas-based FleetPride has a network of 280 stores and 52 service centers which provide truck and trailer parts and services.

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