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.

Apellis CEO says Q3 ‘considerable achievement’

Cedric Francois

Louisville-based bio startup Apellis Pharmaceuticals reported a third-quarter net loss of $35.6 million, primarily because of higher expenses related to the Phase 3 clinical trials for a drug that combats a blinding disease.

Research and development expenses, at $29.5 million, more than tripled from the third quarter of last year.

Dr. Cedric Francois, the company’s founder and CEO, said in a news release that the third quarter “was very important for Apellis,” in part because it has two programs in Phase 3 clinical trials.

“This is a considerable accomplishment,” he said.

Apellis said that third-quarter total assets, at $239.1 million, were up 31.1 percent from the end of last year, while total liabilities, at $43.2 million, rose 30.1 percent during the same period.

Shares had plunged 17 percent in mid-October after the company said some patients suffered inflammation in late-stage clinical trials for a drug that combats a blinding disease.

The company has reverted to nonhuman studies to confirm its suspicion that the inflammation is related to a manufacturing problem — not to the drug itself, Apellis said.

In its third-quarter report, the company said it hopes to provide an update on the matter in the first half of December.

Late Thursday, shares were trading at about $14.34, down 3.4 percent for the week. —Boris Ladwig

Sypris Solutions shares fall on third-quarter loss

Jeffrey Gill

Louisville-based Sypris Solutions recorded a third-quarter net loss of $2.3 million, as revenue fell nearly 1.3 percent.

Higher revenue in the technologies business line, which supplies the automotive and trucking industries, were offset by lower sales in the electronics division, which supports the aerospace and defense industries.

President and CEO Jeffrey T. Gill said in a news release that new contracts, market expansion and a healthy trucking industry are expected to boost the company’s revenue by about 20 percent next year, but investors reacted negatively to the report.

Late Thursday afternoon, shares of Sypris Solutions were down about 16 percent for the week, trading at about $1.13. The S&P was down about 2 percent during the same period. —Boris Ladwig

Long John Silver’s hires COO

Blain Shortreed

Louisville seafood chain Long John Silver’s has named Blain Shortreed its new chief operating officer.

Shortreed will start effective Jan. 1 and will oversee franchise and company operations, as well as restaurant development. He fills the position, which has been vacant since February when former COO Toni Bianco left.

“Blain is a veteran in the quick-service restaurant industry and we know he’ll be an asset to our brand as we continue to evolve,” James O’Reilly, Long John Silver’s CEO, said in a news release.

Shortreed previously was managing director of Pizza Hut in the Middle East and North Africa and vice president of operations for Pizza Hut in the United States.

“Long John Silver’s has been a brand to watch over the last decade and the growth they’ve achieved is remarkable,” Shortreed said in the release. “The executive team is steering the brand toward continued success and I look forward to becoming a part of their growth and innovation.” —Caitlin Bowling

Vogt Awards has its annual Demo Day

The Vogt Awards had its annual Demo Day Tuesday evening at the Ice House on Washington Street, which showcased the work being done in the startup facilitator’s program. The Vogt Awards gives $25,000 in seed funding to each startup in the program, along with 10 weeks of intense training and mentorship.

As a part of Louisville’s inaugural Techstars’ Startup Week, these companies presented their locally born business ideas and networked with members of the startup community, public and media.

  • Agent Ally A tool that saves Medicare insurance agents time, providing personalized plan results and talking points tailored to their clients. The startup won Startup Weekend 12 in April.
  • Dry Baby A company that makes and distributes water- and stain-repellent baby apparel.
  • Enriched Couples — An app that helps young couples navigate merging their finances by using a mix of behavioral science interventions.
  • Pascal Tags — Battery-free tags that use patented technology to track inventory. This item won Startup Weekend 11, in October 2017. 
  • Sport.io — An app that provides cloud-based SaaS solutions for race organizers to engage with athletes and streamline the management of race registration, payments, communication and results.
  • True Secure SCADA — A company that strengthens the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure systems with the patented SCADA-Guard for utility and manufacturing companies.

Applications for next year’s Vogt Awards will open in the spring. —Lisa Hornung

Unemployment rate ticks up

Courtesy of KentuckianaWorks

Louisville’s unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in September, up 0.5 percentage points from a year earlier. KentuckianaWorks said that monthly online job postings hit 13,912, with nearly 4,000 of those requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher. —Boris Ladwig

UofL College of Business adds to its Circle of Fame

Two entrepreneurs with ties to the University of Louisville will be added to the school’s Entrepreneurship Circle of Fame Friday afternoon.

Hank Conn (left) and Van Clouse (right) | Courtesy UofL

This years’ honorees, Van Clouse and Hank Conn, will have their names inscribed in a plaque close to UofL’s College of Business during a 3:30 p.m. ceremony.

A professor at UofL for 30 years, Clouse co-founded the school’s entrepreneurship MBA program, according to the school. He also directs the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship.

An alumnus of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, Conn pledged over $20 million to create the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. He has three degrees from UofL — a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Speed School and a master’s degree from the College of Business.

“Hank has fueled the spirit of the university’s challenge for excellence and contributed significantly to the vision for innovation-based entrepreneurship that accelerates technology concepts to the marketplace,” Mahendra Sunkara, director of Conn Center, said in a news release. —Olivia Krauth

Whisky Chicks’ Linda Ruffenach tapped to host bourbon pairing at James Beard House

Linda Ruffenach, founder of the Whisky Chicks | Courtesy of Whisky Chicks

On Thursday, Whisky Chicks founder Linda Ruffenach narrowly escaped the ice storm to fly to New York and lead a bourbon pairing event for a dinner hosted by “Top Chef” alum Carla Hall at the esteemed James Beard House.

While the dinner featured menu items like leek-mustard green soup, cracked shrimp and Berbers-spiced oxtail, Ruffenach was in charge of pairing a bourbon with — wait for it — Grandma Hannah’s Nana Pudding with Housemade Nilla Wafers and Bourbon Caramel Whipped Cream.

Apparently, it was a modified version of a recipe from Hall’s book, “Carla Hall’s Soul Food,” and was created by Chef Cheryl Day of Savannah’s Back in the Day Bakery.

So what bourbon did Ruffenach choose? That would be Four Roses Small Batch. —Sara Havens

Kentucky Peerless to release 3-Year Rye Whiskey on Monday

The big 3 | Courtesy of Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. is ready to release its 3-year-old rye whiskey, and it’s hosting daylong tours and tastings on Monday, Nov. 19, to celebrate the occasion.

Both Small Batch and Single Barrel selections will be available, and if you’re lucky, you can even catch Head Distiller Caleb Kilburn and owners Corky and Carson Taylor to sign your bottles. Festivities will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Since opening off West Main Street in 2015, Peerless is committed to preserving tradition, which includes never chill filtering and bottling its products at barrel strength. The first batch of rye whiskey was released in 2017, and it’s already been named one of the top 20 whiskeys in the world by Whisky Advocate magazine.

Many Peerless fans also await the first four-year bourbon, which will be released in 2019. —Sara Havens

In brief

The University of Louisville picked up over $500,000 in donations last month as part of its “Raise Some L” campaign. Donations, especially larger multimillion-dollar gifts, have been slowly returning to the school under new President Neeli Bendapudi.

Waterfront Botanical Gardens has hired Jamie Burghardt as its first director of horticulture and education. Burghardt will collaborate with landscape architects and lead educational programming for adults and school-aged children. The first phase of the gardens will open in October 2019.

Michael T. Rust, president and CEO of the Kentucky Hospital Association, has announced that he will retire next year. A national search will be conducted to replace Rust, who’s led the association for 24 years. His last day will be Dec. 31, 2019.

Craig Buthod, president and CEO of the Filson Historical Society, will retire after this year. He has served in that role since 2015. The board of directors has begun a search to find his successor.

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