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Jax Daily Record Monday, Apr. 3, 201712:00 PM EST

ParkerVision, again, promises product launch

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by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

After recording about $4 million in revenue in the third quarter from a licensing agreement with Samsung Electronics Co., ParkerVision Inc. had no revenue in the fourth quarter.

However, the Jacksonville-based developer of wireless technology is on “the cusp of a major product launch,” says CEO Jeff Parker.

ParkerVision has been working on a consumer product that enhances in-home Wi-Fi performance and during its quarterly conference call last week, Parker said the company will soon begin a marketing campaign.

“I expect we will ship initial products in Q2 with a significant ramp planned for the second half of 2017,” he said.

Of course, Parker said during the company’s last conference call in November that he expected to begin shipping products before the end of 2016. ParkerVision hasn’t had a consumer product on the market in years.

ParkerVision’s product is “a competitively priced consumer product that greatly improves the Wi-Fi connectivity experience in homes and small offices,” Parker said.

ParkerVision also is developing a Wi-Fi chip for use by other electronics manufacturers in their products.

Meanwhile, ParkerVision continues to pursue legal action against major manufacturers which it says has been illegally using its patented technology.

The company last month said it is dropping its case that was pending before the International Trade Commission but it still has cases proceeding in U.S. federal courts and in Germany.

“We continue to believe that an enforcement program is imperative to enable the growth of the licensing business and we remain hopeful that other parties like Samsung will eventually demonstrate a willingness to have a fair and balanced agreement over the rights to use our patented technology,” Parker said.

With no revenue in the fourth quarter, ParkerVision reported an adjusted net loss of $3.1 million, or 23 cents a share.

FEC earnings growing

After announcing a $2.1 billion deal to buy Florida East Coast Railway last week, Grupo Mexico reported some financial details of the Jacksonville-based railroad in a presentation to investors.

FEC had revenue of $404 million in 2016 and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $154 million.

Grupo Mexico said FEC has been growing EBITDA by 11.7 percent a year since 2009.

The 351-mile railroad, which runs from Jacksonville to Miami, has 1,227 employees, the Mexican company said.

Grupo Mexico has not said if it plans changes to FEC’s operations. Grupo Mexico’s only other U.S. railroad operations are in Texas.

Grupo Mexico is buying FEC from funds managed by Fortress Investment Group LLC, which acquired it 10 years ago.

FIS signs baseball deal

Fidelity National Information Services Inc., or FIS, is known mainly for providing technology services for banks, but last week it announced an expansion into baseball.

Jacksonville-based FIS announced an agreement to become the official provider of financial business solutions to Minor League Baseball’s 160 teams in the U.S. and Canada.

FIS will be able to offer teams technology for ballpark operations, merchant services and loyalty and rewards programs.

FIS said it will showcase its technologies at Bragan Field at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, home of the Southern League’s Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

The company did not announce financial terms of the agreement.

Meanwhile last week, two analysts weighed in on FIS’s prospects.

William Blair analyst Chris Shutler initiated coverage of FIS with an “outperform” rating, but Goldman Sachs analysts James Schneider downgraded the company from “buy” to “neutral.”

Schneider said in his research note that the stock has risen 24 percent in the past year since FIS was added to the firm’s “buy list,” beating the 13 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

He maintains an $86 price target for the stock but with the stock trading at $80.41 at the time of his downgrade, there is less room for further gains.

“We continue to like the FIS story, as the company drives margin expansion with upside to SunGard synergy expectations – but we now see modest upside to Street estimates. In addition, we believe valuation is now fair and we see further multiple expansion as unlikely,” he said.

Shutler cited FIS’ 2015 acquisition of SunGard Data Services Inc. as one reason for his outperform rating.

“Despite pressure on capital markets, SunGard has performed well, increasing revenue 4 percent to 5 percent in each of the last two years,” Shutler said in his report.

“The acquisition improved FIS’s share of wallet with many large financial institutions, and the retooling of SunGard’s salesforce from a vertical to a more horizontal approach should enhance cross-selling. The acquisition, along with FIS’s global footprint, opens the door to a wider range of future M&A opportunities than may be available to its peers,” he said.

‘Equal weight’ rating for Web.com Group

Barclays analyst Deepak Mathivanan last week initiated coverage of Jacksonville-based Web.com Group Inc. with an “equal weight” rating.

Mathivanan, who previously covered the website services company for Deutsche Bank, said Web.com is facing competition and market share losses in its business line of registering Internet domain names.

“The company has few viable strategies to stabilize the business,” Mathivanan said in his report.

Although that’s a “bear case” for the stock, Mathivanan also offered a “bull case” as Web.com completes the integration of digital market company Yodle, which it acquired last year.

“Despite struggling with customer churn and sluggish growth, Web.com still generates about $140 million in free cash flow that should enable the company to pay down about $100 million in debt annually,” he said.

Mathivanan set a $22 price target for the stock, which was trading at $19.15 at the time of his report.

Regency Centers reports post-merger results

After completing its merger with Equity One Inc. a month ago, Jacksonville-based Regency Centers Corp. last week filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission combining the 2016 financial results of the two shopping center developers.

After reporting revenue of $614.4 million for 2016, the addition of Equity One would have increased Regency’s revenue to $1.02 billion if the merger had been completed last year.

However, the merger dilutes Regency’s earnings per share. After Regency reported earnings of $1.42 a share last year, the addition of Equity One, which earned 51 cents a share, actually would have lowered Regency’s earnings to 99 cents.

Regency did not report combined results for funds from operations, which analysts consider the key earnings metric for real estate investment trusts.

Regency has said the merger will be accretive to its funds from operations, which are basically earnings excluding noncash charges such as depreciation and amortization expense.

PHH CEO to leave

PHH Corp. continues to shrink, and now the downsizing is reaching the C-suite.

The struggling mortgage banker said last week that President and CEO Glen Messina is leaving after PHH’s June annual meeting. He will be succeeded by Chief Financial Officer Robert Crowl.

PHH also said two senior vice presidents are leaving. The company expects to save $5 million a year from the moves, which are part of its cost-cutting plan “as the company expects to become smaller in size and scope resulting from its recently announced and ongoing strategic transactions.”

One of those transactions is an agreement announced in February to sell off a big part of its Jacksonville operation and turning over the lease on its Baymeadows office to LenderLive Network LLC.

LenderLive plans to take on 250 to 300 former PHH employees.

PHH expects to keep about 100 workers in Jacksonville and lease space from LenderLive.

PHH employed more than 1,000 in its mortgage operations office in Jacksonville four years ago before it began downsizing.

Espero Pharmaceuticals announces merger

Jacksonville-based Espero Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced an agreement last week to merge with another privately held pharmaceutical company, California-based Armetheon Inc. Terms were not announced.

After the merger, the company will remain headquartered in Jacksonville and be renamed Espero BioPharma Inc.

Quang Pham, CEO of Espero, will lead the merged company.

Espero is a cardiovascular pharmaceutical company, while Armetheon is also developing drugs to treat cardiovascular disease.

NAC Global changes name to BE Industries

NAC Global Technologies Inc. last week changed its name to BE Industries Inc., according to an SEC filing.

NAC, which produced harmonic gearing technology, was based in Jacksonville but moved its headquarters to Houston last year after a merger.

The company said in a previous filing that the new name better reflects its business.

BE Industries trades in the OTC markets under the ticker symbol “NACG” and said it is seeking to change its ticker, but last week’s filing did not say what the new symbol will be.

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