Earnings season begins, Fed meeting this month

Earnings season has begun and UPS will host a call on Wednesday. | Photo by Boris Ladwig

Earnings season has begun, and two of Louisville’s biggest employers will report quarterly results this week.

UPS will host an earnings call Wednesday morning, and Ford Motor Co. will post results after markets close that day. Watch for Ford officials talk about tariff impact, union negotiations, closer ties with Volkswagen and slower vehicle sales.

The reports could bear on actions by the Federal Open Market Committee, which will meet late this month. Earnings reports from major employers, along with reports on home sales and durable goods orders, likely will affect whether the Fed cuts rates.

Many investors are expecting a rate cut, and if earnings and economic reports hint at a strengthening economy, and the Fed holds off on the rate cut, you can expect to see some more stock market volatility.

All of the major Louisville-based companies, including Humana, Churchill Downs, Papa John’s, Texas Roadhouse and Yum Brands are expected to release their quarterly results by mid-August. Only Brown-Forman won’t post quarterly earnings until September. —Boris Ladwig

Louisville rents continue rising in 2019

kentucky-rentreport-june-2019

Average rents in Louisville rose 4.3% during the first half of 2019, according to the latest report from RentCafe.com.

Louisville remains the second-highest market for Kentucky renters at an average of $966 per month, well behind Newport’s average of $1,137 monthly. The national average rent reached $1,465, $37 more than at the beginning of 2019.

Louisville isn’t the fastest-growing market in terms of rent prices – Frankfort rents are up 8.2%, or $55 per month, over this time last year, and are up 7.6% ($51) since the beginning of the current year. However, Frankfort continues to be one of the cheapest rental markets in the state with an average of $726.

Meanwhile, rents continue to spike nationally, with 88% of the cities surveyed seeing various increases; Manhattan by far remains the most expensive market for apartments, with an average rent of $4,190. —Kevin Gibson

Growing economy, stagnant wages

A fever chart showing an essentially flat line with a slight bend upward toward the right.
Kentucky’s median wage has remained essentially flat since 2001. | Courtesy of the Kentucky Economic Policy Institute

Despite the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, Kentuckians’ paychecks have remained essentially flat for nearly two decades, according to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

Kentuckians earned a median hourly wage of $17.09 in 2018, adjusted for inflation, which was 3 cents higher than in 2017, but 10 cents lower than in 2001, the center’s senior policy analyst, Ashley Spalding, wrote in a recent column for the Lane Report.

“Unemployment is certainly lower than it’s been in a long time and the job market continues to tighten in parts of the state,” she wrote, “but Kentucky workers are not experiencing the kind of wage growth and improvement in standard of living that such an economy should afford.”

Spalding wrote that while the median wage produces an annual income of $35,526 for a full-time worker, the total is about $13,000 short of what a one-adult, one-child family needs to meet basic needs. —Boris Ladwig

Westport Village sold for $30.3 million

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Westport Village was sold for $30.3. million. | Courtesy of Harbert United States Real Estate Fund

Hendon Properties, which purchased Westport Village in 2016, has sold the Graymoor-Devondale retail center for $30.3 million, according to an announcement.

Hendon owned Westport Village in a partnership with Harbert United States Real Estate Fund VI. Previously, the property had been owned by Inland/InvenTrust.

Birmingham, Ala.-based Wicker Park Capital Management LLC acquired the 169,515-square-foot shopping center, which is located at 1315 Herr Lane, according to the announcement.

Since purchasing the facility in May 2016, Hendon Properties had signed 13 new leases totaling 56,000 square feet and had renewed 32 others totaling 102,000 square feet. The shopping center includes popular businesses like Summer Classics furniture, Wild Eggs and Boombozz Pizzeria and Taphouse. —Kevin Gibson

Woodford Reserve adds a Wheat Whiskey to its brand

As stated by the Federal Alcohol Administration Act of 1935, there are four styles of American straight whiskey — bourbon, rye, wheat and malt. With the release of its latest product, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey, the Brown-Forman-owned brand is one of the first to offer all four.

The four-grain, 90.4-proof whiskey is predominately wheat, of course, at 52%, followed by corn (20%), malt (20%) and rye (8%).

“This proprietary expression of Woodford Reserve Wheat is designed to deliver a unique ‘fruit-forward’ flavor profile,” said Woodford Master Distiller Chris Morris in a news release. “It is, like the other members of the Woodford Reserve brands, complex and approachable — and it will make great cocktails.”

With wheat being the main grain, we expect the whiskey to be smooth and subtle — making it perfect to sip on. According to the tasting notes in the release, there are hints of spicy applesauce and toasted coconut, and the finish is dry, with subtle flavors of cocoa and apple peel.

The bottle should make its way to store shelves very soon for a suggested retail price of $34.99. —Sara Havens

Veterans job fair set for July 25 at Cardinal Stadium

Daughters of American Veterans and RecruitMilitary will present a job fair for veterans on Thursday, July 25, at Cardinal Stadium.

The event is free for veterans, transitioning military personnel, National Guard members, Reserve members and military spouses, and the sponsors anticipate at least 120 job offers will result from the fair.

RecruitMilitary devotes much of its focus to the estimated 600,000 unemployed military spouses across the country. That rate, 25 percent, is more than six times the national unemployment rate and more than any other single group.

In addition, the organization has partnered with Google to create a job search tool aimed at connecting military and their spouses with more than 250,000 jobs, including some 8,000 remote positions.

Last year, DAV and RecruitMilitary hosted 139 such veteran hiring events across the U.S., featuring nearly 6,750 exhibitors and drawing more than 32,000 military-trained job candidates.

Cardinal Stadium is located at 2800 S. Floyd St.; the job fair will be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. —Kevin Gibson

Louisville Tourism names Cleo Battle as new COO

Cleo Battle

Louisville Tourism has promoted Cleo Battle to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer. Battle had been executive vice president of the organization since 2013.

Battle will oversee convention development, destination services, tourism development, and marketing and communications. He also will cultivate strategic partnerships and revenue development, among other duties.

A native of Denver, Battle has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years.  Prior to coming to Louisville, Battle spent 12 years as vce president of sales and services for the Richmond Convention & Visitors Bureau in Virginia. He began his career in the hotel industry working for Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn and Sheraton Hotels.

“As Louisville’s hotel inventory continues to grow and the city’s reputation in the group market strengthens, Cleo will work closely with the Convention Development team to identify new strategies within our market segments for higher rated group business,” Louisville Tourism President & CEO Karen Williams said in a press release. —Kevin Gibson

In Brief

The U.S. Department of Transportation released airfare data for the first quarter, showing Louisville’s average fare was $381, Lexington’s was $419 and Cincinnati’s was $347. The first-quarter 2019 average domestic itinerary airfare was $353.

The University of Louisville said it completed its best year for securing money for research since 2012. UofL faculty received more than $152 million in competitive awards last fiscal year, from a preliminary total of 950 grants, an increase of $14 million over the previous year, the university said.

A $1.1 million revitalization of Victory Park, a four-acre park located at 1051 S 23rd Street, has been completed, according to Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Louisville Parks and Recreation. The most recent upgrades include a new playground and sprayground, a covered picnic area, renovated lodge kitchen and additional tree planting.

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