Welcome to The Closing Bell. This is your last stop for biz scoops and big news before the weekend — a roundup of stories that can’t wait till Monday.
Louisville development company plans to construct new apartment complex
Multifamily housing developer LDG Development has a new project in the works.
The Louisville and Jefferson County Landbank Authority has agreed to sell the Louisville company a 3.2-acre property on Garden Green Way at Newburg Road for $252,200. LDG Development also has a contract to purchase an adjacent 4.2-acre property at 5002 Shepherdsville Road.
LDG Development has proposed building affordable housing units on the Landbank property that will provide housing for families that earn 60 percent or less of the median income for the area, according to metro government documents. The apartment development will stretch onto the Shepherdsville Road property as well.
The company told Insider Louisville in an email that they had not decided whether the entire complex will be affordable housing or if it will be a mixed-income project.
“We are in the process of developing site designs and hope to begin the process for approval this spring,” the company stated in the email. The property must be rezoned from commercial and single-family residential to multifamily residential.
The Garden Green Way apartments will be LDG Development’s eighth project in Louisville. Most recently, the company announced a 408-unit apartment complex off Old Henry Road.
Texas Roadhouse considering another price increase as labor costs continue to rise
Amid rising labor costs and shareholder expectations, Texas Roadhouse executives said they are considering increasing menu prices this spring.
The company upped menu prices 1 percent in November, and Texas Roadhouse raised menu prices in Colorado and Arizona recently following “very large increases in their minimum wage,” Scott Colosi, president of Texas Roadhouse, said on a call with analysts this week.
In March or April, Texas Roadhouse leaders will be deciding if they want to add another 1 percent to 2 percent increase in menu prices, he said, noting that they want to settle on prices before the federal government’s May deadline for having calories listed on all restaurant menus.
“We just want to be very, very careful and protective as we always have been of our traffic counts,” Colosi said, adding that competitors also are feeling pressure from growing labor costs and have released “tough sales reports” in recent months.
Despite rising costs, Texas Roadhouse still reported 1.2 percent same-store sales at company-owned stores during the fourth quarter and 3.5 percent same-store sales for the year. Diluted earning per share rose 18.8 percent to $1.63 from $1.37, and revenue jumped 10.1 percent to nearly $2 billion.
Although the company reported another quarter of positive same-store sales, it missed fourth-quarter earning per share projections by $0.09 and fourth-quarter revenue estimates by $12.8 million. Those numbers aren’t horrible considering the growing competitiveness in the restaurant industry and the decline of competitors — Logan’s Roadhouse declared bankruptcy and Outback Steakhouse’s parent company announced closures — but it seems shareholders weren’t happy.
Papa John’s to funnel more money toward national marketing
During a conference call with analysts this week, Papa John’s International executives talked about the company’s growing marketing efforts and a new focus on members of the Papa John’s team, including telling the stories of franchisees.
The Louisville-based pizza chain has created a new web page on its site to highlight “Our Pizza Family.”
“This new campaign was created to share our authentic brand purpose, heritage and reason for being with the rest of the world. As our brand grows, so does our need for increased national marketing investment,” Papa John’s president Steve Ritchie said on the call.
As part of the new marketing effort, the company signed a multiyear agreement with U.S. franchisees to increase the contributions to the national marketing fund by one percentage point to 5 percent of net store sales.
“The increased national investment will enhance our overall brand exposure with more focused allocations in the digital, mobile, social media, and multicultural to complement our national TV and partnership efforts,” Ritchie said.
Papa John’s reported that its annual revenue rose 4.7 percent to $76.2 million in 2016. Diluted earnings per share in 2016 jumped 22 percent to $2.55 from $2.09. The company’s same-store sales increased 3.5 percent at its North American stores and 6 percent at international stores.
“We have an unmatched commitment to quality, a consistent operating model that allows for sustainable growth, and a best-in-class digital center, all of which have contributed to our excellent performance for many years,” Papa John’s founder, chairman and CEO John Schnatter said.
The pizza chain beat fourth-quarter earnings per share estimates by $0.03 but missed fourth-quarter revenue predictions by $7.43 million.
Similar to Texas Roadhouse, Papa John’s stock dipped following earnings from $85.63 to $79.60. It ended Thursday at $78.77 per share.
Even though same-store sales increased in 2016, they did not rise as quickly as they did in 2015, pointed out an analyst with Jefferies, who noted it as the reason for Papa John’s stock tumble. —Caitlin Bowling
Omni Hotel reaches 185 feet high
The Omni Louisville Hotel has reached more than half of its eventual height, currently standing about 185 feet high.
When it opens more than a year from now, the building will stand 360 feet high and have 612 hotel rooms and 225 luxury apartments. The hotel and residence will cost more than $300 million.
Workers are in the process of pouring the forms for the hotel’s fourth-floor swimming pool and residents’ 16th-floor pool, according to a process update provided by Omni Hotels & Resorts. They also are installing precast concrete panels on the exterior of the building.
Construction on the interior also has begun, with workers framing the wall and putting up drywall from the first through 10th floor.
The Omni Louisville Hotel has been named the headquarter hotel for the 2018 Breeders Cup, and the TEAMS ’18 Conference & Expo, a sporting industry event. —Caitlin Bowling
Humana leaders sell $74M in stock
Ten Humana executives and one director sold nearly 360,000 shares this week valued at almost $74 million.
A Humana spokesman said the sale reflects a pent-up demand that arose because execs have not had much of a chance to sell shares because of the planned acquisition by Aetna. He emphasized that company leaders remain confident in Humana’s operations.
Chief Operating Officer James E. Murray on Tuesday sold nearly 119,000 shares with a value of about $24.4 million, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Murray is set to retire March 31.
CEO Bruce Broussard on the same day sold just over 104,000 shares, or about $21.4 million worth.
Certain executives and directors — so-called insiders — have to state publicly when they sell company shares. The Humana officials this week filed with the SEC a Form 144, which must be filed when they plan to sell, within a three-month period, more than 5,000 shares or if the value of the sale exceeds $50,000.
Eight other executives this week sold between 4,020 shares ($825,000) and nearly 27,000 shares ($5.5 million). One director, David A. Jones Jr. also sold 27,000 shares, or about $5.5 million worth.
Before this month, only five forms 144 had been filed by Humana execs in the last two years.
Tom Noland, senior vice president of corporate communications, told Insider via email that Humana’s senior executives “have had limited opportunities to engage in stock transactions for the last two years owing to the Aetna transaction.“
Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna wanted to buy rival Humana for $34 billion, but a judge last month blocked the transaction because it would have materially reduced competition in the health insurance industry.
“Because of those limitations, some senior executives are now exercising options and/or selling stock for personal financial planning,” Noland said.
“Senior management continues to be very confident in Humana and the opportunities ahead for our company,” he said.
Humana’s share price since the merger announcement in summer 2015 has risen just under 10 percent. During the same time frame, the S&P 500 has gained nearly 14 percent.
Despite this week’s stock dump, Humana shares actually gained value over those two days: On Tuesday, shares rose 0.4 percent, and on Wednesday, they gained 0.2 percent, closing at $205.70.
The shares the execs sold accounted for less than 0.2 percent of Humana’s outstanding shares, and trading volume over those two days was below average, at a combined 2.7 million. Volume in the three days before the sales topped 3 million per day.
Footwear, pharmaceutical companies to invest $11M in Louisville
A footwear retailer and a pharmaceutical company plan to invest a combined $11 million to expand Louisville’s distribution industry.
PharmaCord LLC, a patient case management and pharmaceutical distribution company founded late last year, plans to spend $7.3 million in Louisville and create 300 jobs.
According to filings with the state, the company “is considering establishing its corporate headquarters, call center and mail-order pharmacy operations in Louisville.”
PharmaCord would spend $3.6 million on rent, $1 million on equipment and $2.75 million on other start-up costs.
The company would initially hire 50, but would expand employment to 300 by the third year. The employees would be paid average hourly wages, including benefits, of $20. Federal data show that wages account for about two-thirds of employee costs. That means PharmaCord employees can expect to earn about $13.60 per hour excluding benefits, which would be about $28,300 per year.
The state has preliminarily approved tax incentives of $4 million.
The state filings indicate that the project would include “multiple locations” in Jefferson County, including at 6100 Dutchmans Lane.
San Diego-based footwear retailer Shoemagoo plans to spend nearly $3.5 million to move its California warehouse and processing facility to Louisville.
The company plans to initially employ 10, with job numbers expected to increase to 50 by the third year. Average hourly wages for employees, including benefits, would be $23. Excluding benefits, employees can expect to earn about $15 per hour, or $31,200 per year.
In filings with the state, the company said the move would significantly cut freight and shipping costs.
Shoemagoo plans to invest nearly $2.5 million on rent, $250,000 on equipment and $750,000 on other start-up costs.
Magbooth leaving NuLu for Portland in advance of East Market construction
Magnolia Photo Booth Co., aka Magbooth, is leaving its NuLu storefront and consolidating its operations to its warehouse at Main and 11th streets in Portland, effective March 1.
The 2,000-square-foot space will be home to both the Magbooth offices and storage.
“We have loved being a part of NuLu since 2008 and are excited for all the great things happening in the neighborhood,” Magbooth business manager Jessica Kessinger said in a press release. “With construction planned to start this year on the streetscape project, AC Hotel NuLu, and the demolition of the Service Tanks building, we felt it’d be a great time to change things up. Operating in a single space will definitely help us better prepare for our client’s events and custom projects. As much as we’ll miss our NuLu home, we knew it was time to take the leap.”
Since its founding in 2007, Louisville-based Magbooth has provided custom photo booths at more than 10,000 events. The company has booths for rent in six other markets and has created custom booths for brands like Warby Parker, sports teams and the band Arcade Fire. —Melissa Chipman
Three Louisville venues land in list of Top Selling Theatre Venues for 2016
Louisville is once, twice, three times a lady according to Pollstar’s annual Top Selling Theatre Venues for 2016 list. Three of our beloved concert halls landed on the list of 200 worldwide: Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall (No. 33), the Brown Theatre (No. 149) and the Louisville Palace (No. 185).
The trade publication rates venues by ticket sales each year. If you take a look at the list and see who our competitors are — Radio City Music Hall, the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and Madison Square Garden, to name a few — it’s quite an accomplishment to even make the list.
“This report once again reminds us that places like Whitney Hall and the Brown Theatre play a critical role in the economic engine that supports our state’s economy — along with so many other great arts attractions in our region,” said Kim Baker, president of the Kentucky Center, in a press release. “This recognition demonstrates the passion and enthusiasm Kentucky audiences have for the performing arts.”
Pappy to release an older, rarer bourbon: 25 Year Old Rip Van Winkle
As if Pappy wasn’t already deemed “highly delicious but impossible to find,” the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, now owned by Buffalo Trace, is releasing an even older and rarer product with the Old Rip Van Winkle 25-Year.
The one-time bottling of only 11 barrels will ship out in April, according to the press release, and we sure as hell hope we’re on that mailing list because there are only 710 bottles available.
Of course, no expense was spared with the packaging, complete with a special handmade glass decanter from Glencarin Crystal Studio and a handmade wooden box crafted by an artist in North Carolina.
“We are excited to be able to offer something so unique and rare for our most devoted fans,” said Julian Van Winkle, president of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, in a press release. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime offering, and the beautiful decanter and wooden box just take it to the next level and make it something in which I’m very proud to be associated.”
The bourbon was distilled in the spring of 1989 and stored at Stitzel-Weller in Shively until 2002 when they were moved to Buffalo Trace in Frankfort. And in 2014, the 11 barrels were poured into stainless steel tanks to keep the coveted product away from the thirsty angels in the rick house.
GE Appliances grants $65K to JCPS
Louisville-based GE Appliances has granted Jefferson County Public Schools $65,000 to better align education with workforce needs.
The company and the school district said in a press release that the grant will support a project manager who will accelerate the Talent Development Academy initiative, which creates “small learning communities organized around career themes that show students links between their academic subjects and real-world applications and career experience.”
JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said the academies “will offer career pathways from healthcare to manufacturing and engineering, and students will be able to see what they are learning in English, math and science come alive in ways that apply to their career themes.”
GE Appliances President and CEO Chip Blankenship said the grant continues the company’s efforts to partner with education officials “to educate and excite students about careers in manufacturing.
“Education is not one size fits all,” he said. “This is a program that will encourage every student to follow a track that will best apply their talents so they can enter college or the workplace ready for the opportunities that await them.”
Blankenship previously has said that the local worker shortage has reached a crisis that is hampering economic growth, while the local chamber repeatedly has said that Louisville needs to grow faster to be able to fill all of the jobs offered by local employers. —Boris Ladwig
Leadership Louisville’s Leadership Summit takes shape
Leadership Louisville has announced the keynote speakers and breakout sessions for the March 9 leadership summit themed “Leadership for the Future.” There will be three keynotes, six breakout session choices, interactive experiences, and a closing cocktail and networking reception.
Keynote speakers are Erica Dhawan, an author, strategist and an expert on collaboration and connectional intelligence; Dr. Nat Irvin II, a UofL business professor and author, innovator, futurist, teacher, composer and commentator; and Trey Grayson, president and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Breakout session speakers include Kirsten Hawley, chief human relations officer of Brown-Forman; Nancy Winé, senior manager of Amazon Media Group; Grace Simrall, chief of civic innovation for Metro Government; Stacy Griggs, chief executive of El Toro; Sherman Bradley, founder of Consider the Poor of Ohio; Lisa Zangari, director of learning for the Leadership Louisville Center; Scott Martin, parks director of the Parklands of Floyds Fork; Richard Sisto, jazz musician and mindfulness trainer; and more.
Attendees also will have the opportunity to interact with futuristic technology including human-robotic interaction from UofL’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering, VizionAir drones and virtual reality experiences.
The event runs from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Individual tickets are $445; patron sponsorships, which include tickets for five individuals, are $2,000. —Melissa Chipman