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24 posts from May 2012


Grapevine's GameStop says second-quarter earnings will be below Wall Street expectations

GameStop said Thursday that its second-quarter earnings will come in under Wall Street’s projections, but the company maintained its earnings expectations for the full year.

The Grapevine-based videogame retailer reported a $72.5 million net profit for the first quarter, which ended April 30, compared to $80.4 million for the same period the prior year. Earnings per share were 54 cents in the latest quarter, compared to 56 cents the prior year. Sales in comparable stores – those open at least a year, an industry benchmark – were down 12.5 percent for the quarter, in line with what GameStop disclosed on May 10.

The company's shares sank on the news in early morning trading, falling nearly 7 percent, or $1.42 a share, to $19.42.

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

GameStop also said it continues to expect full-year earnings of $3.10 to $3.30 per share. Wall Street is looking for $3.19.

GameStop said May 10 that its first-quarter sales reflected “light demand for ‘AAA’ game launches and slower than expected traffic.”

“GameStop continues to outperform the market in new game sales through the late stages of this console cycle,” Paul Raines, GameStop’s chief executive, said in a release Thursday.

“Despite slower traffic during the quarter, we achieved our earnings target due primarily to gross margin expansion and positive profit contributions from our pre-owned, mobile and digital businesses. We expect those segments to fill the profitability gap as we transition to the new console cycle.”

Scott Nishimura


Builders have improved confidence in the new home market, report says

Builder confidence in the new, single-family home market has reached its highest level since May of 2007, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

The index is at 29 this month, up five points from April.

"Builders in many markets are reporting that buyer traffic and sales have picked back up after a pause this April," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a statement. "It seems we have resumed the gradual upward trend in confidence that started at the beginning of this year, as stabilizing prices and excellent affordability encourage more people to pursue a new-home purchase."

The NAHB has measured builder confidence for 25 years. A score over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

_ Sandra Baker

Commercial construction appears down, ABC report says

The backlog of commercial construction projects nationwide declined to an average 7.4 months in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of 2011, the Associated Builders and Contractors said this week.

That means nonresidential construction could remain soft in the summer months, the organization said. Its construction backlog indicator is a forward-looking economic indicator that measures the amount of future construction work under contract. A drop means fewer projects are in the pipeline.

"The lull in nonresidential construction momentum is not poised to end in the immediate term," said Anirban Basu, ABC’s chief economist, in a statement. "The ongoing instability in the nation’s nonresidential construction industry appears to be related to the period of economic weakness that developed in the broader economy last year, as well as concerns regarding export growth due to recessionary forces in Europe. The result is that many prospective construction projects were cancelled or postponed."

The south region, which includes Texas, saw a slight increase in the backlog. It now takes 8.88 months to have a project started.

"Though average construction backlog in the South was roughly flat during the past quarter, backlog is up 0.72 of a month from one year ago. No other region has generated an increase in backlog that large," Basu said.

_ Sandra Baker

Private Equity Council releases report

Texas topped the list where private equity firms invested the most money in 2011, the Washington, D.C.-based Private Equity Growth Capital Council said today.

About $21 billion went to 206 Texas-based companies, the group said. Texas was followed by New York, California, North Carolina and Oklahoma.

The organization even goes so far to break it down by congressional districts. Most of the private equity went to congressional districts in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas.

Congressional District 18, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Houston, private equity invested $3 billion in 19 companies.

Congressional District 20, U.S. Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, private equity invested $6 billion in 4 companies.

Congressional District 7, U.S. Rep. John Culbertson, R-Houston, private equity invested $373 million in 21 companies.

Congressional District 10, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, private equity invested $814 million in 20 companies.

Congressional District 32, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, private equity invested $2 billion in 17 companies.

In 2011, private equity invested more than $144 billion in the U.S. economy, with 20 states receiving more than $134 billion of that capital, the group said.

"Over the next several months, we expect the general election to amplify the conversation about private equity," said Steve Judge, president of Private Equity Growth Capital Council, in a statement.

_ Sandra Baker


GameStop re-iterates first-quarter earnings guidance, says same-store sales off 12.5%

Update: Retail Metrics estimated GameStop's same-store sales would be off 2.9 percent, according to Bloomberg News. Analysts' consensus estimate for GameStop's quarterly earnings is 53 cents per share, and it's $3.21 for the full year, according to Bloomberg data.

GameStop, the Grapevine video game retailer, said late Thursday it was confirming its 2012 first-quarter and full-year earnings guidance.

The company said its first-quarter earnings would be 54 cents per share of common stock, and its same-store sales - those open at least a year, an industry benchmark - would be off 12.5 percent.

The company re-iterated its full-year earnings guidance of $3.10 to $3.30 per share.

"The company is outperforming the market in new video game product sales," GameStop said. "However, first quarter same store sales results reflect light demand for AAA game launches and slower than expected store traffic during the quarter."

GameStop is scheduled to release its quarterly results May 17.

- Scott Nishimura

Bankrupt Hostess, the Twinkies maker, warns workers of layoffs

Irving-based Hostess Brands, maker of Twinkies and Wonder bread, has filed WARN notices with a number of states, including Texas, that it might have to lay off workers if its Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring efforts are not successful.

Its total workforce is 18,500, including 14 at a distribution depot in Fort Worth, 19 at a Dallas depot and 51 at the Hostess headquarters in Irving, said Anita Marie Laurie, who is serving as a company spokeperson.

"We intend to continue negotiating in good faith with our unions, including the BCT (The Bakery, Confectionary Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union), and will not implement the changes permitted by the Court’s ruling unless we are unable to reach a consensual agreement,” the company said in a statement last week.

In a May 4 bankruptcy court order, Hostess Brands Inc. was authorized to terminate contracts with the BCT, Bloomberg News reported.

Unlike the Teamsters, the bakery workers’ union elected not to oppose Hostess at trial last month on termination of existing contracts with about 70 union locals, reported Bloomberg columnist Bill Rochelle, a former Dallas bankruptcy attorney. As a result, the bankruptcy judge signed an order allowing the company to terminate the contracts if they haven’t already expired, Rochelle said.

The judge also approved terms of a new contract that Hostess may implement and permitted Hostess to end retiree benefits for former bakery workers’ union members.

"Rather than use its resources to fight rejection of the contracts, the bakery workers’ union decided instead to use the threat of a strike to negotiate concessions with the company," Rochelle reported.

An operating report filed with the bankruptcy cn on May 3 showed that Hostess would have turned in a break-even performance in March on sales of $189.3 million were it not for $9.6 million in reorganization costs, he added.

-- Barry Shlachter


Chase Bank tower in Arlington sold

American Fidelity Assurance Co. has bought the JPMorgan Chase Bank tower at 500 E. Border St. in Arlington from Brookfield Real Estate Opportunity Group.

The 12-story, 267,780-square-foot building sits on 11.3-acres and was 95 percent leased at the time of the sale. Chase Bank and Texas Health Resources occupy 72 percent of the building. Trend Micro, a global technology firm, has 40,000 square feet.

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

_ Sandra Baker


Downtown FW's Daiches jewelry store building sold to investor

Real estate investor Harvey Mueller has bought the century-old former Daiches jewelry store building on Weatherford Street in downtown Fort Worth from the Daiches family.

Mueller could not be immediately reached for comment.

The three-story, 9,000-square-foot building, 117 W. Weatherford St., was built in 1910 by George Gause, a funeral home operator. A meat market and liquor store reportedly occupied the first floor before Joe Daiches Credit Jewelry bought the building and moved in several decades ago.

Daiches, which opened for business in 1929, moved two years ago from downtown to a shopping center near Interstate 30 and Alta Mere Drive. At that time, the building was under contract to investors who planned the remodel the building for multi-tenant use. That deal never went through.

The upper two floors, with 28 rooms, were a hotel into the ’70s but have since been unoccupied.

Mueller also owns the multi-tenant office building just to the west of the Daiches building, at 100 Main St., according to property records. Pescador Partners also owns four other Fort Worth office buildings, property records show.

The Tarrant Appraisal District values the Daiches building at $600,000.

_ Sandra Baker

Texas led the nation in commercial real estate development in 2011, study says


Commercial real estate development and construction rebounded nationwide in 2011 and Texas leads the way, according to a NAIOP Research Foundation study.

Texas posted the highest amounts of direct spending in pre-construction, construction and post-construction phases across all categories of commercial real estate. Commercial real estate includes office, industrial and retail buildings. NAIOP is a commercial real estate development association.

Texas’ development accounted for $7.9 billion in spending and 150,102 construction jobs supported, the organization said. The state moved up from No. 2 in 2010.

Nationwide, the study found that the total economic impact of development grew 12 percent, to $261.6 billion from $231.7 billion in 2010. In all, 238.3 million square feet of space was built last year, a jump of 2.5 percent over 2010. Last year was the first of gains in the commercial sector since the recession began in 2007.

Construction spending on commercial real estate totaled $92.3 billion, a more than 12 percent increase over 2010. This spending supported nearly 2 million jobs nationally.

"2011 was a transition year for the U.S. economy and the construction sector," said economist Stephen Fuller with George Mason University. "The U.S. economy shifted from a federal stimulus to private-sector driven growth pattern and construction spending grew accordingly."

Texas was followed by New York, West Virginia, California, Arizona, Utah, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts and North Carolina.

_ Sandra Baker


The Loft women's apparel coming to FW's Sundance Square this fall

Keeping true to its promise of finding more apparel stores for Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth, developers today said it has leased 5,394 sqaure feet in the former Billy Miner’s restaurant spot at the corner of Houston and Third streets to the Loft, a national women retailer.

"We have had a lot of interest in the space formerly occupied by Billy Miner’s and we waited to commit to the right retailer," said Johnny Campbell, president and CEO of Sundance Square.

The Loft will compliment other apparel retailers on Houston street, including Jos. A Bank, Pappagallo Classiques, and Leddy’s Ranch. The store should open this fall, Sundance said.

The Loft space is about one-third of the Billy Miner’s space. Five Guys Burgers and Fries opened recently in a portion of the Billy Miner’s location.

"We will continue to seek out additional soft good and apparel retailers for this corridor that will benefit from our significant base of residents, workers, and visitors," Campbell said.

About 5,000 square feet is still available.


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