Peyton Manning latest celebrity Fanatics investor; J&J Vision revenue rises

Tegna takeover rumors return; Patriot again paying special dividend.

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Fanatics continues to attract new investment capital and with it, new celebrity investors.

The latest announced Oct. 21 was an investment in a company majority-owned by Fanatics called Candy Digital by a group that includes former NFL star Peyton Manning.

Candy Digital is a nonfungible token, or NFT, company formed in June.

The group including Manning invested $100 million in Candy Digital, which values the company at $1.5 billion.

In recent months, the Jacksonville-based sports merchandise company has received millions of dollars in new capital that has valued the entire company at about $18 billion, according to reports by major financial news outlets.

Those news outlets have reported investors include music mogul Jay-Z and his entertainment company, Roc Nation.

Fanatics has been branching out into other business besides sports merchandise. The NFT business, in which collectors can buy unique digital memorabilia, is being touted as the next big thing in sports collecting.

“Candy is focused on being the trusted, institutional-grade provider of authentic licensed products in the NFT space, and we are excited to continue to grow our business and develop unique digital assets which bring fans and collectors closer to the sports and players they love,” Candy Digital CEO Scott Lawin said in the Oct. 21 news release.

Candy Digital launched with an exclusive contract to sell digital assets of Major League Baseball.

Besides its majority investment in Candy Digital, Fanatics reached an agreement in August with Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to sell conventional trading cards through another subsidiary.

J&J Vision revenue rises on international sales

While contact lens sales in the U.S. lagged, total revenue at Johnson & Johnson Vision rose 10.1% in the third quarter to $1.19 billion.

“The worldwide vision franchise grew 10% this quarter, primarily driven by market recovery, commercial initiatives and new products driving enhanced competitiveness,” said Sarah Wood, senior director of investor relations, in parent company Johnson & Johnson’s quarterly conference call on Oct. 19.

Sales of the Jacksonville-based vision care unit’s Acuvue brand contact lenses rose 6.2% to $882 million in the quarter as strong international sales offset a decline in the U.S.

Wood said the domestic decline was due to restocking of contact lenses in the third quarter of 2020 as businesses tried to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said that had a negative impact of about 10 percentage points on U.S. sales this year, as companies that sell contact lenses did not need to restock.

The vision subsidiary’s sales of eye surgical products jumped 22.7% in the third quarter, “driven by market recovery across all regions and success of recently launched products continuing to enhance competitiveness,” Wood said.

Johnson & Johnson manufactures its Acuvue lenses in Jacksonville but the surgical products are made elsewhere.

Tegna takeover rumors return

Takeover rumors surrounding television station operator Tegna Inc. are heating up again.

Tysons, Virginia-based Tegna operates 64 U.S. stations in 51 markets, including Jacksonville NBC affiliate WTLV TV-12 and ABC affiliate WJXX TV-25.

Bloomberg News reported Oct. 19 that media mogul Byron Allen is seeking investors to help him make an $8 billion bid for Tegna.

Allen’s company, Entertainment Studios, owns 21 television stations in mostly smaller markets, according to the company’s website.

The company’s other holdings including cable television’s Weather Channel.

Allen is bidding against a group led by investment firms Apollo Global Management Inc. and Standard General, who have been pursuing Tegna for at least two years.

Standard General has launched proxy fights seeking to elect directors to Tegna’s board but failed to get much shareholder support.

Apollo two years ago acquired Cox Media Group, which operates 33 stations in 20 markets including Jacksonville CBS affiliate WJAX TV-47 and Fox affiliate WFOX TV-30.

That would complicate a deal for Tegna because Apollo’s group would have to divest at least some of the Jacksonville stations to gain regulatory approval.

Allen would offer $23 a share to buy Tegna, Bloomberg said, citing “people familiar with the matter.” Apollo and Standard General have offered $22 a share, it said.

Tegna’s stock was trading near $20 before Bloomberg’s Oct. 19 story, but it traded as low as $16.84 in September.

Patriot again paying special dividend

Patriot Transportation Holding Inc. announced Oct. 25 it is paying a special $3.75 per share dividend to stockholders, the third year in a row the Jacksonville-based trucking company is rewarding shareholders.

Patriot, which had not previously paid any dividends, paid special $3-a-share dividends in 2019 and 2020.

This year’s dividend follows the company’s sale of a truck terminal property in Tampa for $9.6 million to Services LLC.

The Jacksonville-based trucking company disclosed an agreement for the sale in March but did not name the buyer until an Oct. 19 Securities and Exchange Commission filing saying the deal had closed.

Patriot said that sale will result in an after-tax gain of $6.2 million.

The company is paying $12.8 million to stockholders for the special dividend but it said it will still have about $6 million in cash and no debt on its balance sheet after the dividend.



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