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24 posts from May 2012


Fort Worth's Pier 1 says first-quarter sales up 7.2 percent in comparable stores

Pier 1 Imports said Thursday its first-quarter sales in comparable stores, those open at least a year, rose 7.2 percent on top of last year's 10.2 percent increase.

Pier 1 said it expected its quarterly gross prorift to be 41.6 percent of sales, compared to 40.1 percent in last year's quarter.

Pier 1 said it expected earnings per share to be 16 cents per share of common stock, compared to 12 cents last year.

- Scott Nishimura


Fort Worth hospital plans new emergency center

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth said Wednesday it will break ground Thursday on a new $57.7 million emergency care center that will better meet the growing needs of patients in the Fort Worth area.

The three-story, 75,000-square-foot emergency department, to open in fall 2013, is one block south of the hospital’s current emergency center, connected to the hospital by an elevated walkway, and "will nearly triple the square footage of the existing department and increase patient beds to 90 from the current 63."

“Our new emergency care center is a culmination of years of soliciting input from multiple city- and county-wide organizations in order to best create a facility that responds to the needs of our community,” said Dr. John Geesbreght, the hospital’s medical director of emergency services. “I believe Texas Health Fort Worth has done just that.”

The hospital said its emergency department cared for 97,309 patients last year and expects to treat 100,000 patients this year.

-- Jim Fuquay



Southwest FW office complex, Overton Centre, sold

FORT WORTH — Less than two years after buying the three-building Overton Centre in southwest Fort Worth, a subsidiary of Holt Lunsford Commercial has the property to TLCUrban.

The 447,917-square-foot property was 93 percent leased at the time of the sale. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Frontier Equity, an Addison-based real estate investment firm, and a part of Holt Lunsford, bought the property in July 2010. It was one of Tarrant County’s largest commercial real estate deals that year. At that time, the building was 85 percent leased.

Overton Centre is a middle-tier, multitenant office complex that consists of two nine-story office buildings and computer center on 24.5 acres off Hulen Street, just north of Interstate 20.

General Electric Credit Equities sold the property to the Holt Lunsford group. GE Credit has held the property since February 2009, when it foreclosed on the previous owners, an investor group in Dallas.

Gary Carr, Russell Ingrum, Eric Mackey, and Robert Hill of CBRE represented the seller.

_ Sandra Baker


BNSF to spend $199 million on Texas projects this year

BNSF Railway will invest about $199 million in Texas rail maintenance and improvement projects this year, the Fort Worth-based company said today.

Among the projects: expansion of rail capacity at Tower 55 near downtown Fort Worth; realignment of the rail line in far north Fort Worth to allow for a runway extension at Alliance Airport; replacement of the Galveston Causeway bridge; and improvements to the company's Amarillo car shop.

Track maintenance work will include surfacing and undercutting on about 1,341 miles of track, and replacement of 84 miles of rail and about 563,000 ties.

The planned investments are part of BNSF's $3.9 billion in capital spending. Of that, about $1.1 billion will be spent on locomotive, freight car and other equipment purchases, $300 million for federally mandated positive train control and $400 million for terminal, line and intermodal expansions.

BNSF Railway is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, which is run by investor Warren Buffett. 

-- Steve Kaskovich


North Richland Hills shopping center sold, owners plan to redevelop

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — The Crossing at the northwest corner of Precinct Line Road and Grapevine Highway has been sold to Centennial Real Estate Co., which said it plans to revamp the shopping center.

The 247,720-square-foot center, anchored by Kohl’s department store and a Kroger Signature grocery store, was developed and opened in 2000 by Fort Worth-based Trademark Property Co. It sold the center in 2003 to Boston-based Heritage Property Trust.

Kroger opened in 2001 in a former Minyard grocery store space.

This is the third property Centennial has bought in northeast Tarrant County in recent months. In late 2011, it bought the Village Park at Colleyville, at Colleyville Boulevard and Texas 26. The deal included 133,771 square feet of retail space.

Centennial, with offices in Dallas and Los Angeles, said it owns more than 2 million square feet of shopping centers, lifestyle centers and malls in the southwest and western sections of the U.S., including a mall in Pueblo, Colo., and a mall in Chico, Calif.

"We saw an opportunity with The Crossing to enhance an important asset to both the community and existing retailers," said Steve Levin, Centennial’s president, in a statement. "We plan to improve the center’s overall appearance and work to fill unmet needs of the community by introducing an exciting line-up of new retailers and other complementary tenants over time."

Centennial bought the property under the name A C Crossing Partners and financed the deal with a $10.6 million note with Inwood Bank, according to deed records. It was sold by Gateway Grant Inc. in New York, which bought the property in 2007.

- Sandra Baker


Texas adds 13,200 jobs in April, Workforce Commission reports

Texas added 13,200 jobs in April, and the state’s unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent, down from 7 percent in March and 8 percent a year ago, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday.

Compared to a year ago, Texas is up 225,000 jobs, the commission said.

“The Texas economy continues to add jobs, with 10 of 11 major industries growing over the past year,” Andres Alcantar, the commission chairman, said. “The continued growth across industries is positive.”

Texas’ private sector employers added 12,200 jobs over March and were up 277,100 jobs from a year ago, the commission said.

Construction led, with an increase of 7,300 jobs and was up 14,100 jobs from a year ago. Trade, transportation and utilities was up 2,900 in April and was up 42,300 from a year ago.

Mining and logging added 400 jobs in April and was up 33,900 from a year ago.

Manufacturing was up 6,300 jobs in April and 25,400 from a year earlier.

Information was up 800 jobs in April and 2,100 from a year earlier.

Financial activities was down 1,900 jobs in April and was up 13,800 from a year ago.

Professional and business services was off 2,600 jobs in April, but was up 39,500 from a year ago.

Education and health services was up 2,500 jobs for April and 49,100 from a year ago.

Leisure and hospitality was of 4,300 jobs in April, but up 42,600 from a year ago.

Other services added 800 jobs in April, and were up 14,300 from a year ago.

Government, which includes public schools, added 1,000 jobs in April, but was off 51,300 jobs from a year ago.

The Fort Worth-Arlington jobless rate fell to 6.3 percent in April from 7.5 percent a year ago.

- Scott Nishimura


Regal Entertainment announced as first tenant for Benbrook's The Trails Town Center

Regal Entertainment Group plans a 14-screen movie theater in The Trails Town Center, the large shopping center in the works by Fort Worth-based Buxton Co. off Interstate 20 and Winscott Road in Benbrook.

Thursday’s announcement is the first for the 1.5-million-square-foot open-air regional center that was announced nearly a year ago. The center is expected to create 6,250 jobs and generate $375 million in annual sales.

Regal said it will include among its screens the Regal Premium Experience: RPX large format screen. Details regarding when construction will start were not released.

"We are impressed with the plans laid out for The Trails Town Center," said Russ Nunley, Regal’s vice president of marketing and communications, said in a statement. "We are looking forward to being part of the new project, and are proud to be the first major tenant announced."

Tom Buxton, Buxton’s chairman, said the company anticipates making additional tenant announcements in the next couple of months.

Regal Entertainment Group operates 6,580 screens in 522 theatres in 37 states.

Buxton Co. is under contract to buy 193 acres at the southeast corner of I-20 and Winscott Road for the center. The project was announced in July with plans to have some construction underway this summer and stores opening in 2013. The Western-themed shopping center will stretch 1.5 miles along the south side of I-20.

This is Buxton’s first development since it started a real estate division about five years ago. The company primarily advises developers, cities and retailers on site selection.

The Trails Town Center is expected to draw shoppers from as far away as Abilene, Waco and Midland-Odessa, Buxton said.

_ Sandra Baker

Fort Worth's RadioShack: 1 in 3 consumers knows we sell wireless

RadioShack has a lot in the stewpot these days.

It’s trying to drive sales of its mobility products, push high-profit accessories to make up for lower wireless margins, use consumer electronics to draw traffic and show RadioShack as a price leader, add services, and get consumers to recognize it’s in the wireless business., Jim Gooch, the chief executive, said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting Thursday.

"Only one in three people have any unaided awareness that we’re in the mobility business," Gooch said, citing company research.

But RadioShack has a lot to work with, Gooch said. It’s carrying the top three wireless providers’ products, and it continues to boost the numbers of its stores that are carrying the Apple iPhone and iPad.

The company also recently signed Gray New York – creator of the E*Trade baby commercials - to be its lead creative agency of record, with the first of that campaign expected to emerge later this year.

"I’m very excited to have them take control of the messaging," Gooch said.

Beyond broadening consumer awareness that RadioShack sells wireless, RadioShack also wants to promote that its a price leader.

"Right now, there’s a significant gap between perception and reality," he said. "We actually have market-leading prices out there in mobility, but we’re not given credit for it."

RadioShack’s Mexico stores, now at 200, could double within the next three to five years, Gooch said.

Business at the company’s rollout of Target Mobile centers, off to a slower start than expected and also contributing to the pressure on profit margins, should get better, Gooch said.

"I think you’ll see us improving the top line as well as the strength and profitability of the business," he said.

RadioShack said recently it lost $8 million in the first quarter, compared to a $35.1 million profit in the same period a year ago, as it continues to work the transition to wireless.

- Scott Nishimura

Forbes compares Facebook to GameStop: "Will you invest with your head or your heart?"

Forbes isn't giving much love to Facebook or GameStop right now. On the eve of Facebook's monumental IPO, the mag is out with a column comparing the two companies and asking the question, "Will you invest with your head or your heart?" GameStop shares got beat up on Wall Street today, after the company came out with a weak second-quarter forecast.

Scott Nishimura

GameStop shares taking a hit

GameStop’s shares were being shelled today, after the company said its second-quarter sales and profits would fall short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Paul Raines, the Grapevine video game retailer’s chief executive, said results are harder to forecast in the late stages of video game console "cycles." Raines said GameStop expects its pre-owned, mobile, and digital businesses to "fill the profitability gap" as the company awaits the launch of the new Nintendo Wii U later this year.

Raines said GameStop continues to do better than its rival in new game sales. The company improved its gross profit margin – sales minus costs of those sales, as a percentage – and the pre-owned, mobile, and digital businesses contributed "positive profit contributions," Raines said.

"We expect those segments to fill the profitability gap as we transition to the new console cycle," he told securities analysts and reporters during a conference call.

GameStop said Thursday it expects second-quarter earnings of 10 to 18 cents per share of common stock. Wall Street was looking for 25.4 cents per share.

The company also said it expected comparable store sales – those in stores open at least a year, an industy benchmark – to be down 5 to 11 percent.

GameStop maintained its guidance for fiscal year earnings of $3.10 to $3.30 per share. Wall Street ‘s consensus estimate is $3.19.

GameStop shares were down $2.09 to $18.78 shortly before the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Rob Lloyd, GameStop’s chief financial officer, told analysts and reporters on the call that the company was "widening the range" on its profit guidance "to reflect the uncertainty" at the end of the console cycle.

GameStop, confirming an earlier announcement May 10, said it made a $72.5 million net profit for the first quarter, which ended April 30, compared to an $80.4 million net profit for the same period the prior year. Earnings per share were 54 cents in the latest quarter, compared to 56 cents for the same period the prior year.

Sales in comparable stores – those open at least a year, an industry benchmark – were down 12.5 percent for the quarter, as GameStop also disclosed May 10.

Raines said GameStop’s fast-growing PowerUp Rewards affinity program hit 18 million members during the quarter, and members accounted for 72 percent of sales. PowerUp customers are spending $358 on average annually, and account for 35-40 of all video game consumption in the United States, Raines said.

Raines also said GameStop’s rivals in the pre-owned game business continue to contract, giving the company "confidence in our pre-owned model."

He also estimated that, at $75 per used console, gamers have $1.8 billion worth of trade currency available, should they elect to buy a new Wii U or other new consoles on the drawing board.

- Scott Nishimura


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