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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 7, 201612:00 PM EST

Medtronic realigns operating divisions

by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

As Medtronic plc reported its fiscal year-end earnings last week, the medical device company also unveiled a realignment of its operating divisions.

The realignment includes its Jacksonville division, which produces surgical instruments for ear, nose and throat physicians. However, it will not affect operations, said Medtronic spokesman Eric Epperson.

The ENT business was part of Medtronic’s Surgical Technologies division, which was technically headquartered in Jacksonville but didn’t add any jobs to its local operation. The company has a little more than 750 employees in Jacksonville.

The Surgical Technologies division, which disappeared in the realignment announced last week, was one of four units under Medtronic’s Restorative Therapies Group, or RTG.

The company is restructuring the RTG businesses to provide a stronger focus on the diseases and conditions treated by its products, Epperson said.

Medtronic created three RTG divisions called Spine, Brain Therapies and Pain Therapies. The ENT business will be a separate unit but grouped with other businesses under Specialty Therapies.

The important note is “nothing has changed with our businesses or the technologies they develop and market,” Epperson said.

The realignment has more to do with financial reporting. “The business that’s been located in Jacksonville for Medtronic is still there,” Epperson said.

The realignment follows Medtronic’s acquisition last year of Dublin-based Covidien plc. Medtronic moved its corporate headquarters to Covidien’s offices in Dublin, Ireland, after the merger but maintains its operational headquarters in Minneapolis.

In its first full year after completing the Covidien deal, Medtronic reported revenue of $28.8 billion for the fiscal year ended April 29 and adjusted earnings of $4.37 a share.

The company does not break out results for the ENT business but the Surgical Technologies division, which was still around in fiscal 2016 and included ENT, increased revenue by 10 percent to $1.18 billion.

Medtronic projected fiscal 2017 earnings of $4.60 to $4.70 but said if not for the negative currency impact of the strong U.S. dollar, earnings growth would be projected at 12 percent to 16 percent.

BAE Systems cuts back layoffs

Based on layoff announcements, BAE Systems Inc.’s employment at its two Jacksonville area shipyards should be half of what it was a year ago.

However, because of some contract wins that brought more work to the shipyards, the London-based global defense contractor’s cutbacks have not been as severe as first thought.

“We have changed our plans for the layoff,” BAE spokesman Karl Johnson said last week.

“Based on some layoffs and some voluntary departures, our workforce is about 600,” he said.

BAE employed about 800 people a year ago at its shipbuilding and repair facilities at Mayport Naval Station and on Heckscher Drive.

However, it announced plans in September to cut 200 jobs.

As it turned out, the company only cut 100 of those jobs. But in January, it said it would cut 300 of the remaining 700 jobs, citing reduced demand for commercial shipbuilding and repair and U.S. Navy repair work.

But work has picked up again. Last month, BAE announced new contracts with the Navy for repair and maintenance of two Jacksonville-based ships that will be worth at least $61.7 million.

“These contracts are important because they help sustain our workforce, allowing us to continue providing vital maintenance and modernization capabilities to the Navy,” David Thomas, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems Jacksonville Ship Repair, said in a news release.

BAE operates six shipyards in Alabama, California, Hawaii and Virginia.

Johnson said Jacksonville is unique in the company’s operations because it serves both the Navy and commercial vessels.

He said it’s difficult to predict what will happen to BAE’s employment levels in the future. In addition to Navy contracts, the company is seeking more commercial business in Jacksonville.

“They need to win a fair share of those (commercial contracts) as well,” Johnson said.

BAE has been operating the two shipyards since acquiring them from Atlantic Marine Holding Co. in 2010.

The company originally came to Northeast Florida in 2007 when it acquired Jacksonville-based defense contractor Armor Holdings Inc. for $4.5 billion.

Most of Armor’s big-ticket defense products were manufactured outside of Jacksonville, but it did operate a plant at Jacksonville International Tradeport that manufactures bullet-proof vests and other law enforcement equipment.

BAE sold that business, which operates under the Safariland name, to former Armor CEO Warren Kanders in 2012.

Flowers Foods still evaluating Hostess plant

It’s been nearly three years since Flowers Foods Inc. acquired 20 former Hostess bread bakeries, including one in Jacksonville. But Flowers still hasn’t decided what it wants to do with the idle Jacksonville plant at 201 Busch Drive E.

Hostess shut down the plant, which employed 128 people, when it went out of business in 2012. Flowers acquired five Hostess bread brands in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court auction in 2013 but has only reopened three of the 20 Hostess bread bakeries it picked up in the deal.

Ten of those bakeries have been sold. During Flowers’ quarterly conference call last month, Chief Financial Officer R. Steve Kinsey said the company has three “nonstrategic facilities” listed for sale and the remaining four are “under a strategic review.”

Flowers spokesman Paul Baltzer last week said the Jacksonville plant remains one of those four still under evaluation.

Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers already operates its own bread-making facility in Jacksonville at 2261 W. 30th St., 7 miles away from the former Hostess bakery.

Flowers reported earnings of 28 cents a share for the first quarter ended April 23, a penny lower than last year. Sales rose 5.1 percent to $1.2 billion.

Flowers is projecting earnings of $1 to $1.06 for the fiscal year, compared with 92 cents in fiscal 2015. It expects sales to grow by 5.5 percent to 8 percent to a range of $3.99 billion to $4.08 billion.

General Employment becoming GEE Group

General Employment Enterprises Inc. last week said it is changing its name to GEE Group Inc.

The staffing firm is headquartered in Naperville, Ill., but has been run by Jacksonville executive Derek Dewan since General Employment acquired Jacksonville-based Scribe Solutions Inc. in April 2015.

Since Dewan took over as CEO, General Employment has grown through acquisitions and diversified its staffing services. The company reported first-quarter revenue of $21.7 million, up from $9.8 million last year.

“Our new name is intended to more clearly reflect the company’s transformation from a predominantly commercial staffing company into a highly specialized staffing services, consulting and human resources solutions provider,” Dewan said in a news release.

“The name change creates a platform to help better position our specialty operating brands and go to market strategy in the professional services division which includes our information technology, healthcare, engineering and finance/accounting specialties,” he said.

The name change to GEE will need to be approved by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting July 12.

ParkerVision adds another $2 million

ParkerVision Inc. continues to pile up losses as the company produces minimal revenue, but it also continues to receive new investments.

The Jacksonville-based developer of wireless radio technology said last week that special purpose fund Brickell Key Investments LP exercised a right to provide an additional $2 million in funding, bringing Brickell’s total investment in ParkerVision to $13 million.

Half of the latest $2 million is restricted for use in patent enforcement actions and the other half is available for general corporate purposes.

ParkerVision is engaged in several legal actions alleging patent infringement by major mobile device manufacturers, but the company also said last month it is developing a new consumer product to enhance in-home Wi-Fi use.

Duos Technologies adds $1 million contract

Duos Technologies Group Inc. last week said it was awarded additional business by one of its strategic partners that will provide up to $1 million in revenue this year.

Jacksonville-based Duos, which provides intelligent security analytical technology solutions, reported revenue of $1 million in the first quarter this year.

The new contract is for providing data center audit services for an international mobile telecommunications operator, the company said.

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