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Basch Report
Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 21, 201707:00 AM EST

Stein Mart takes loss as it clears inventory

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Total sales for retailer tumble 2.7 percent.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Stein Mart Inc. last week reported another drop in sales and a big net loss, as the Jacksonville-based fashion retailer works on turnaround plans.

Total sales fell 2.7 percent to $311 million and comparable-store sales (sales at stores open for more than one year) dropped 5 percent in the second quarter ended July 29.

The company had a net loss of $13 million, or 28 cents a share, for the quarter.

In Stein Mart's quarterly conference call, CEO D. Hunt Hawkins said the results were worse than expected because of a strategy to clean out inventories. The company moved up clearance markdowns on spring merchandise and liquidated underperforming merchandise.

“Our path to healthy financial growth begins with exceptional inventory management,” said Stein Mart President MaryAnne Morin.

Morin said a better inventory and merchandise strategy is a key part of the company’s turnaround plan.

“For fall and early spring, we have been very prudent with our purchasing plans and held back more purchase dollars for in-season buying. This positions us to be able to react better to sales and fashion trends and inject more special purchases into our offerings,” she said.

Stein Mart also is introducing a marketing campaign next month under its new advertising firm, Bohan. The company hopes to win over new customers with the campaign, Morin said.

“In the past, most of our marketing was tailored toward the customer we already had. Our new campaign is being designed to not only better engage with our current customer, but to reach a new customer,” she said.

Hawkins was named the permanent CEO of Stein Mart and Morin was brought in as president in January.

“Our new leadership is focused on delivering improved results starting this fall as we implement our new merchandising and marketing strategies,” Hawkins said.

ParkerVision selling Wi-Fi product

ParkerVision Inc. reported another quarter with no revenue, but that likely will change in the third quarter.

This time we mean it.

More than a year after CEO Jeff Parker began talking about it, ParkerVision Inc. put its in-home Wi-Fi product on sale Wednesday.

The product, called Milo, is targeted at consumers and is designed to enhance Wi-Fi performance.

ParkerVision began taking pre-orders for Milo on its own website (www.milowifi.com). During the company's quarterly conference call, Parker said it also will be available through Amazon.com “within just a couple of weeks.”

Milo is selling as a two-unit system for smaller homes for $129 and a three-unit system for $189.

“We are anxious to turn on the website and get the shipments going,” Parker said during last Monday’s call, before the website became active.

Parker didn’t say the volume of sales he expects, but said “we should have revenues by the end of September.”

Besides the consumer product, ParkerVision is introducing a Wi-Fi system-on-chip product marketed to application developers.

“These include applications such as smart routers, internet of things devices such as home appliances and business machines, entertainment devices, cameras, machine-to-machine communications and many other applications,” Parker said.

It’s been several years since ParkerVision has had products on the market. The company has become best known in recent years for a series of lawsuits against major mobile device manufacturers, which the company alleges has infringed on its patented wireless technology. Several of those suits remain in process.

With no revenue, ParkerVision reported a second-quarter net loss of $3.7 million, or 21 cents a share.

ParkerVision last week also disclosed it was notified it could lose its listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market if its stock price doesn't increase. The stock was trading below $2 at the time but it did rise above $2 after the quarterly report.

The company received a similar notification from Nasdaq in January but it regained compliance with minimum listing requirements in April.

FirstAtlantic part of I-4 strategy

National Commerce Corp. says its deal to buy Jacksonville-based FirstAtlantic Financial Holdings Inc. is part of an “I-4” strategy.

“We've long articulated an I-4 strategy that we defined as beginning in Tampa, moving through Orlando to Daytona, north to Jacksonville and south to Vero Beach. We think this is a great strategic fit from that standpoint,” CEO Richard Murray said in a conference call Thursday after announcing the merger agreement Wednesday.

Birmingham, Alabama-based NCC is buying FirstAtlantic for a combination of cash and stock valued at $108 million.

The merger plan calls for the Jacksonville bank and its eight area branches to continue using the FirstAtlantic Bank brand name.

That's a common practice for NCC. Its Alabama bank operates as the National Bank of Commerce, but it uses two other brand names for branches it operates in Central Florida, United Legacy Bank and Reunion Bank of Florida (which has a branch in St. Augustine Beach).

As part of its I-4 strategy, the company expects to soon close on the acquisition of a Tampa area bank called Patriot Bank.

When the FirstAtlantic deal closes, Florida will be NCC's biggest market with 47 percent of its deposits, compared with 41 percent in Alabama. The rest are in Georgia.

Regency Centers named a ‘top pick’

RBC Capital Markets analyst Wes Golladay last week upgraded his rating on Regency Centers Corp. from “outperform” to a “top pick.”

Like other analysts have said about the Jacksonville-based shopping center developer, Regency's portfolio of centers anchored mainly by high-quality grocers seems in better position than others to weather the storm of retailers going out of business.

“We have moved to overweight shopping centers and favor quality within the space. We view Regency as one of the best-positioned shopping center REITs for organic and external growth and believe the company's access to the debt markets on favorable terms adds incremental value,” Golladay said.

“To date, Regency's portfolio has navigated the difficult retail environment. Of the company's 9,000 tenants in the portfolio, only 20 have closed YTD related to bankruptcy as of the second quarter. While bankruptcies will likely remain elevated for the industry, Regency should be less impacted in our opinion,” he said.

Investment banker for Dick’s Wings

ARC Group Inc., operator of the Dick's Wings & Grill restaurant chain, last week enlisted investment banking firm Maxim Group LLC to assist the company in “maximizing shareholder value.”

An announcement like that often indicates a company is putting itself up for sale, but that may not be the case here. Jacksonville-based ARC Group has stated its intention to expand by acquiring other restaurant chains. In addition to Dick's, it acquired a 50 percent interest in 2014 in a chain called Wing Nutz.

“We are seeking to grow aggressively through the continued growth and development of our legacy Dick's Wings brand, as well as through the acquisition of ownership interests and assets of other leading restaurant brands offering us product and geographic diversification,” ARC Group President Seenu Kasturi said in a news release.

“Maxim's M&A network, and their financing capabilities in particular, will open up new doors for ARC Group to take advantage of the numerous growth opportunities that are presenting themselves to us,” he said.

Coach tumbles as sales miss target

Coach Inc.'s stock plunged Tuesday after a disappointing earnings report.

The luxury handbag and accessories company reported adjusted earnings of 50 cents a share for the fourth quarter ended July 1, a penny higher than the average analyst’s forecast, according to Yahoo Finance.

However, its sales of $1.13 billion were below the average forecast of $1.15 billion.

Coach also forecast fiscal 2018 earnings of $2.35 to $2.40 a share, up from $2.15 in the fiscal year ended July 1. That includes accretion from its recent $2.4 billion acquisition of rival Kate Spade & Co.

However, the average analyst's forecast for the current fiscal year was $2.46.

Coach's stock fell $7.28 to $40.64 Tuesday after the report.

New York-based Coach has an 850,000-square-foot warehouse at the Jacksonville International Tradeport that handles all of its North American distribution.

GEE Group grows with acquisition

GEE Group Inc. last week reported revenue for the third quarter ended June 30 doubled to $46.1 million, following its acquisition of staffing firm SNI Companies at the beginning of the quarter.

The Illinois-based staffing company reported a net loss of $6 million in the quarter, which included $3.4 million in costs related to the SNI deal and a loss on the extinguishment of debt of about $2.9 million.

CEO Derek Dewan, who runs GEE Group from Jacksonville, said in a news release that the company has begun integrating SNI and expects to start seeing cost synergies from the deal helping earnings in the fourth quarter.

GEE Group also continues to seek acquisition opportunities.

“Our pipeline of great companies contemplating joining GEE through acquisition is stellar and continues to grow and we will accelerate our aggressive external growth from this outstanding list of staffing solutions providers,” Dewan said.

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