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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 3, 202005:20 AM EST

Former APR head becomes CEO of Duos; Medtronic reports sharp sales drop

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Chuck Ferry succeeded the retired Gianni Arcaini at the Jacksonville-based technology company.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Duos Technologies Group Inc. last week appointed the former head of APR Energy as its new chief executive officer.

After the Aug. 28 announcement, Chuck Ferry became CEO of the Jacksonville-based technology company Sept. 1, succeeding Duos founder Gianni Arcaini, who announced his retirement in July.

Ferry resigned as CEO of Jacksonville-based APR in April, two months after the fast-track power plant company was acquired by Atlas Corp.

Besides his experience at APR, Ferry is a former general manager of defense contracting company ARMA Global Corp. and spent 26 years in the U.S. Army.

“Between his years in the mission-critical environments of active duty military service and his proven track record in the corporate world over the past decade-plus timeframe, Chuck has shown himself to be a proven operator and a results-driven executive,” Duos director Ken Ehrman said in a news release.

Ehrman is chairman of the board’s nominating and governance committee. Arcaini remains chairman of the board of directors after retiring as CEO effective Sept. 1.

“Over the next few months, Chuck and the board will be working together to identify and execute a long-term strategy aimed at positioning Duos effectively for profitable growth and expansion in the years ahead,” Ehrman said.

Duos provides intelligent security analytical technology, with a focus on railroad industry applications.

The company has raised its profile this year, getting its stock listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market and gaining its first analyst coverage.

After recording revenue of $13.6 million in 2019, Duos was projecting it to grow to $20 million this year. But the company has said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting its growth plans for 2020.

Medtronic reports sharp sales drop

Medical device company Medtronic PLC last week reported a big drop in quarterly sales, with a particularly sharp decline in its Jacksonville division.

The Ireland-based company said total sales fell 13% in its first quarter ended July 31 to $6.507 billion. Sales at its Jacksonville subsidiary, which produces surgical instruments for ear, nose and throat doctors, dropped by a mid-20s percentage, the company said.

Medtronic does not break out more specific sales data for the ENT business.

The ENT division is part of its Specialty Therapies group,  which had a 20% decline in total sales to $453 million in the quarter.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt sales of Medtronic products, such as ENT instruments, because many of those surgeries are considered nonessential and are being postponed.

However, Medtronic officials said they are seeing improvements in sales trends, according to a transcript of its quarterly conference call posted by the company.

“We’ve experienced a faster than expected recovery,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Parkhill said.

“On the top line, May was better than April, and June was better than May, and that improvement has continued into July and August.”

Medtronic’s adjusted earnings dropped in half to 62 cents a share, from $1.26 in last year’s first quarter.

Advanced Disposal shareholders approve lower price

Shareholders of Ponte Vedra-based Advanced Disposal Services Inc. last week approved a lower price for the company’s proposed buyout by Waste Management Inc.

Waste Management agreed in April 2019 to buy Advanced Disposal for $33.15 per share and stockholders approved the deal last year. But as the approval process for the deal dragged on, the companies agreed in June 2020 to lower the price to $30.30, and shareholders had to vote again on the new price.

More than 99% of shares voted approved the lower price at a special meeting, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The companies hope to complete the deal by the end of September but they still need U.S. Justice Department approval. 

Waste Management in June announced an agreement to sell $835 million in assets from the merged company to GFL Environmental, which it hopes will satisfy antitrust concerns about the merger of two waste services companies.

Fanatics sells $350 million in stock

Jacksonville-based Fanatics Holdings Inc. said last week in an SEC filing it sold $350 million in preferred stock.

The privately held online sports apparel and merchandise company rarely makes public filings, and last week’s document gives few details on the deal. 

However, CNBC reported on its website the stock sale values Fanatics at $6.2 billion.

Fanatics was founded as a retail store in the Orange Park Mall in 1995 by brothers Alan and Mitchell Trager.

The Tragers sold the company in 2011 and it is now part of a Philadelphia-based holding company called Kynetic.

Analyst upgrades CSX on trends

Stephens analyst Justin Long upgraded his rating on CSX Corp. from “equal weight” to “overweight,” citing several favorable trends for the Jacksonville-based railroad company.

“While we have always viewed CSX as being favorably positioned over the long term, our hesitancy in the past year has been based on the company’s earnings growth being more dependent on the top line (less room for ‘self help’ margin improvement via precision scheduled railroading) in a weak demand environment,” Long said in his research note Aug. 31.

However, he now sees favorable trends including a positive inflection in the freight market and low capital expense requirements that should improve cash flow.

“CSX’s stock has also lagged the rail sector year-to-date and its valuation relative to the S&P 500 is near the low end of the historical range,” Long said.

He raised his price target for CSX’s stock from $72 to $93, with the stock trading at $77.07 at the time of his report.

Landstar System downgraded on high stock price

Jacksonville-based trucking company Landstar System Inc. reached a record high of $138.55 when the market opened Aug. 31, but Stifel analyst J. Bruce Chan downgraded the stock last week because of its recent run-up.

“As the stock paves new peaks, we ask ourselves: is Landstar a fundamentally better company, or this market fundamentally better than in 2018? To both questions, we think the answer is no,” Chan said in his research report.

“We view Landstar as a great company now, as it was a couple years ago, and while there are more signs of secular consolidation, insurance is a structural headwind, and we are increasingly aware of macro uncertainty stemming from political, epidemiological, and other sources,” he said.

Chan downgraded his rating from “buy” to “hold” and dropped his price target from $127 to $110.

Black Knight acquires DocVerify

Black Knight Inc. last week said it acquired DocVerify, a California-based company that provides digital document signing services.

Jacksonville-based mortgage technology company Black Knight said the acquisition helps its goal of digitizing real estate and mortgage document processes.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

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