One Ocean Resort occupancy rebounding from pandemic

Atlantic Beach hotel operator Ashford Hospitality says occupancy hit bottom in the middle of April and “continues to increase on a weekly basis.”

  • By Mark Basch
  • | 5:20 a.m. May 28, 2020
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The One Ocean Resort & Spa at 1 Ocean Blvd. in Atlantic Beach is benefiting as “drive-to leisure hotels” are the first to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, hotel owner Ashford Hospitality says.
The One Ocean Resort & Spa at 1 Ocean Blvd. in Atlantic Beach is benefiting as “drive-to leisure hotels” are the first to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, hotel owner Ashford Hospitality says.
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The owner of the One Ocean Resort & Spa in Atlantic Beach said last week the 193-room oceanfront hotel off Atlantic Boulevard is coming back strongly from the pandemic.

During its quarterly conference call before the holiday weekend, Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc. Chief Financial Officer Deric Eubanks singled out One Ocean’s performance.

“We believe that hotel occupancy bottomed in the middle of April. Since then, occupancy continues to increase on a weekly basis,” Eubanks said, according to a transcript posted by the company.

“We are seeing pickup of room nights on a short-term basis and the pace of that pickup is increasing almost daily,” he said.

“We expect drive-to leisure hotels to be among the first to bounce back, and we are already seeing this at our One Ocean Resort in Jacksonville, Florida, and our Lakeway Resort in Austin, Texas, which both sold out last weekend. We also expect those two hotels to be sold out Memorial Day weekend as well.”

Dallas-based Ashford operates 116 hotels, including a 119-room Hilton Garden Inn and a 120-room Marriott Residence Inn in Jacksonville.

Rayonier AM out of Fortune 1000

Jacksonville lost a Fortune 1000 headquarters this year, although the company’s office hasn’t moved.

Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. moved into Fortune magazine’s annual list of the 1,000 largest U.S. companies last year, after an acquisition more than doubled its size.

But when Fortune’s new list based on 2019 revenue was released last week, Rayonier AM dropped off after a decline in sales.

The maker of cellulose specialties products ranked 951st last year after reporting 2018 revenue of $2.134 billion, but its 2019 revenue was $1.775 billion. The 1000th company on this year’s list had $1.99 billion.

Beyond Rayonier AM, Jacksonville continued to have three companies in the Fortune 500 and one more in the Fortune 1000 this year.

Railroad company CSX Corp. was the highest-ranked company at 267, with $11.937 billion in revenue last year. Fidelity National Information Services Inc., or FIS, was closing in at No. 303, with $10.333 billion.

FIS should pass CSX in next year’s list. The financial technology company completed its acquisition of Worldpay Inc. in mid-2019 and with a full year of results from that business this year, revenue should exceed $12 billion.

Title insurance company Fidelity National Financial Inc., which spun off FIS, ranked 375th in the Fortune 500 with $8.469 billion in revenue.

Landstar System Inc. is the other Jacksonville-based company in the Fortune 1000, but the trucking company fell 71 spots to 635th as 2019 revenue fell 11% to $4.09 billion.

Fortune magazine includes only publicly traded companies and others that file official financial reports with a regulatory agency. So privately owned Southeastern Grocers LLC, operator of Winn-Dixie and three other supermarket chains, is not on the lists.

F&D Reports, a retail consulting service, estimates Southeastern Grocers’ annual revenue at $8.35 billion.

Analyst upgrades CSX Corp. to ‘buy’

As the COVID-19 pandemic reduces freight traffic, CSX Corp.’s revenue is expected to fall sharply this year.

However, UBS analyst Thomas Wadewitz upgraded his rating last week on the company from “neutral” to “buy” in anticipation of a rebound in 2021 as the economy turns around.

“We expect CSX to leverage its strong service to gain share versus truck in 2021, which could also support stronger volume performance vs. the rail group,” Wadewitz said in his research note.

He projects CSX’s revenue to drop to $10.14 billion this year, but bounce back to $11.26 billion in 2021.

“Given the combination of leverage to a cyclical upturn and support from cost reduction, we believe that CSX is likely to provide an attractive profile for investors and we expect it to trade at the high end of its historical P/E as volumes improve,” he said.

Wadewitz raised his 12-month price target for CSX’s stock from $63 to $80, with the stock trading at $65.96 at the time of his report.

The stock peaked at $80.62 in February but fell as low as $46.81 in March after the pandemic-related market crash.

Shoe Carnival sales tumble 41.9% as COVID impact hits

Many retailers are reporting awful first-quarter results after closing stores to wait out the pandemic.

Shoe Carnival Inc.’s report last week detailed just how much the pandemic affected its business.

The footwear chain, which is controlled by former Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, said comparable-store sales in the first quarter were up 3.9% through March 12.

However, after the company closed all of its 390 stores March 19, it ended with a comparable-store sales drop of 42.3% for the full quarter ended May 2.

Comparable-store sales are sales at stores open for more than one year and are a key metric for evaluating retailers.

After the stores closed, Shoe Carnival’s e-commerce sales jumped 350% for the rest of the quarter.

However, the company ended the quarter with total sales of $147.5 million, down 41.9% from the first quarter of fiscal 2019. 

Shoe Carnival had a net loss of $16.2 million, or $1.16 a share, for the quarter.

Shoe Carnival said it did not furlough any employees during the quarter and began to reopen stores in late April. 

By May 20, 80% of its stores had reopened and “are delivering sales above our expectations,” CEO Cliff Sifford said in a news release.

Weaver is chairman of Shoe Carnival and his family is the largest shareholder, controlling more than 30% of the stock.

Medtronic’s Jacksonville division sales fall

In a business update last month, Medtronic plc listed its Jacksonville-based ear, nose and throat surgical instrument division as less essential than some of its other medical products.

So, it was not surprising last week that the company reported a big drop in sales in the ENT business in the fourth quarter ended April 24.

Medtronic does not give specific figures for the ENT business but said in a news release its sales dropped by a “high-twenties” percentage.

The ENT business in Jacksonville is part of Medtronic’s Restorative Therapies Group, which includes products for brain therapies, pain therapies and spinal procedures. 

Some of those businesses performed even worse than the ENT division, so total RTG sales dropped 32% in the quarter.

“RTG’s therapies tend to be used in procedures that are more deferrable,” CEO Geoff Martha said in Medtronic’s quarterly conference call, according to a transcript posted by the company.

With hospitals devoting resources to treating COVID-19 patients, surgical procedures that are considered elective have been deferred.

“While there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the recovery, we would expect RTG revenue to be the most challenged,” said Chief Financial Officer Karen Parkhill.

Medtronic is stepping up production of ventilators, which are urgently needed for COVID-19 care.

However, total sales for the company fell 26% in the fourth quarter to $5.998 billion.

Adjusted earnings per share fell to 58 cents, from $1.54 the previous year.

HealthLynked Corp. buys ACO Health of Jacksonville

HealthLynked Corp., a Naples-based provider of health care network services, said last week it acquired Cura Health Management and its Jacksonville-based subsidiary, ACO Health Partners LLC.

HealthLynked is paying $1.75 million in cash and stock to buy Cura Health, which had revenue of $2.076 million and earnings of $667,671 last year.

ACO Health is an accountable care organization that provides services for Medicare patients and care providers.



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