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17 posts from August 2012


Second-quarter sales increase at Pier 1 Imports

Pier 1 Imports said today that comparable-store sales — at stores open at least a year, an industry  benchmark — increased by 6.7 percent in its second quarter ended Aug. 25, and total sales increased 8.3 percent to $368 million.

The Fort Worth-based retailer expects earnings per share to be 19 cents, non-GAAP, excluding an accounting item for reversal of accrued interest. The company will release second-quarter results on Sept. 13.

In a press release, Alex W. Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We are very pleased with our profitable sales growth this quarter, which reflects strong execution across all aspects of the organization. Our stores have transitioned from summer to fall and customers have responded favorably to our new assortments.”

“We are delighted with the highly successful, on-time launch of our new e-Commerce enabled website, Pier1.com, in late July. The new site includes direct-to-customer shipping, a full redesign, enhanced functionality and new features, and has met with positive response from our customers. The continued development and expansion of our e-Commerce business will be an important part of our growth strategy going forward. We look forward to discussing our second quarter results and providing a general business update during our upcoming conference call.”


-- Steve Kaskovich



Split investment and commercial banking, Frost Bank chief says

Cullen/Frost Bankers CEO Dick Evans, in Fort Worth Wednesday for a client luncheon, said lawmakers should restore the strict division of investment banking and commercial banks, which Congress abandoned in 1999 and which many blame for the severity of the financial crisis. U.S. taxpayers should not be on the hook for outsize losses incurred by bad bets at investment banks, he told a packed house at the Fort Worth Club. Evans also rejected the "too big to fail" doctrine applied to the very largest banking corporations, saying it short-circuits the discipline imposed by a free market. As chief at Frost Bank, Evans is more qualified to comment on prudent banking practices than most. Among Texas' 10 largest banks, Frost was the only institution that did not fail or be acquired in the 1980s after plunging oil prices shredded the Texas economy. Evans also said he agrees with Dallas Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Richard Fisher that there is little the central bank can do to further stimulate the U.S. economy, and policymakers should instead focus on reducing unproductive regulation.

-- Jim Fuquay


FW's CD Ski & Sports to open store in West 7th in late September

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth-based CD Ski & Sports by the end of September will open a store in West 7th that will focus on selling the name-brand clothing it carries and not the ski and snowboarding equipment found at its other locations.

The 4,900-square-foot store is being called Climate by CD Ski & Sports and will be at the northeast corner of Crockett and Norwood streets. It is slated to open in the third week of September, said Jared ShopeÖ , co-owner of CD Ski & Sports.

It will be the retailer’s fifth location. Shope started the store in 1994 with a location on Hulen Street, which was expanded to 10,000-square-feet last year to accommodate the growing number of name brand ski and beach fashions the store carries. Three years ago, the retailer also moved and expanded its Grapevine location to accommodate their clothing lines.

CD Ski & Sports specializes in apparel and equipment for skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and other outdoor action sports. The store has had a growing number of customers buying their clothing just to wear, and not because they were going to the mountains or the beach, Shope said.

"Our business is very destination," Shope said. "A lot of what we’re selling stays here in Fort Worth.

It joins a growing list of primarily women’s apparel retailers in West 7th, the 13-acre mixed-use development at the southeast corner of University Drive and West Seventh Street. It will be the only one that will carry men’s and children’s clothing, said Shope, a Texas Christian University alumni.

Shope said he began looking at West 7th about 18 months ago, but needed to concentrate on expanding the Hulen store before opening another.

The store will have 10 full- and part-time employees. It will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Major brands will include The North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Arc’teryx, UGG Footwear, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Rainbow, Keen, Burton, RVCA, Billabong, Reef, Spyder, Nordica, Giro, Columbia, Roxy and Quiksilver. It will also sell accessories such as cameras from Go Pro and Contour, as well as headphones from Skullcandy and Marley.

"If we are going to carry it at the West 7th location, it will be a premium brand, a niche product or a leading fashion piece," Shope said.

Brad Douglas of McKinney is Shope’s operating partner. CD Ski & Sports also has a store in McKinney and Amarillo.

Frank Bullock and Carey Shagets with SRS Real Estate Partners and Rodger Chieffalo with Chieffalo Realty represented the landlord, Cypress Equities.

Austin-based firm buys two office buildings off Texas 360

Austin-based Capital Commercial Investments, a real estate investment company, has bought two local office buildings.

The company bought the 146,510-square-foot former Sabre Building at 4200 Buckingham Road in CentrePort in east Fort Worth and the six-story National Health Building, a 98,928-square-foot multi-tenant office building at 1901 N. Texas 360 in Grand Prairie.

The building sales came within a couple weeks of each other. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The CentrePort building, built in 1983, was sold by Hometown Commercial 2007-1, deed records show.

The National Health Building, built in 1984, was sold by AIC Ventures. Tenants include the National Transportation Security Administration, National Health Corp. and FYI Television.

Creighton Stark and Ben Lurie with Colliers International North Texas represented AIC Ventures.

Capital Commercial Investments said it owns and manages 8 million square feet of office and industrial properties throughout the country.

_ Sandra Baker


Federal appeals court overturns EPA cross-state pollution rule

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington today sided 2-1 with more than three dozen challengers to the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which imposes caps on emissions for Texas and 26 other states. The rule had been put on hold by the court while it considered the legality of the regulation. Environmental groups condemned the decision, while Energy Future Holdings, the Dallas-based owner of the state's largest generator of electricity, applauded it, as did a national electricity industry group. The Star-Telegram has a report here.

-- Jim Fuquay


11 North Texas facilities make Modern Healthcare "best places to work" list

North Texas is well-represented among the best health-related organizations to work for, with 11 among about 100 employers on the Modern Healthcare's 2012 list. Tarrant County facilities on the magazine's "Best Places to Work in Healthcare" are Cook Children's Health Care System, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southlake and USMD Hospital at Arlington. Other units of Arlington-based Texas Health Resources on the list are Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Flower Mound, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Rockwall, and Texas Health Diagnostics & Surgery in Plano. Other North Texas organizations are: the Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital in Dallas; Frontera Strategies in Irving; LiquidAgents Healthcare in Plano; The Medicus Firm in Dallas; and VHA in Irving. The magazine will release its ranked list of honorees in October.

-- Jim Fuquay

Motorola Mobility to cut 57 jobs at Fort Worth Alliance operation

Motorola Mobility, the cellphone maker that last week announced plans to cut 4,000 of its 20,000 employees, told the state it will lay off 57 workers at its facility in the Alliance area at 5300 Westport Pkwy. Company representatives were not immediately available to address the status of the local operation, which years ago had as many as 1,500 workers but which has wound down since then. Motorola was acquired by Google a year ago. According to Motorola's filing with the state, the layoffs are mostly permanent and will begin on or about Aug. 31. It also said it is possible that the number of employees cut could be smaller "because of alternative employment opportunities with Motorola Mobility." Laidoff workers will receive severance benefits, it said.

-- Jim Fuquay 


Texas adds 17,800 jobs in July

Texas employers added 17,800 jobs in July, the 24th consecutive monthly gain, but the state’s unemployment rate still rose to a seasonally adjusted 7.2 percent last month from 7 percent in June, the Texas Workforce Commission said today. In the past year, the state has added 222,500 nonfarm payroll jobs, enough to lower the Texas jobless rate from a seasonally adjusted 8.1 percent in July 2011. In the past two years employers added 457,700 new jobs, TWC said.

In Fort Worth-Arlington, the jobless rate was unchanged from June at 7.3 percent, but down from 8.3 percent a year earlier. Those figures are not seasonally adjusted. The comparable unadjusted state jobless rate in July was 7.5 percent. Statewide, the category of education and health jobs grew the most, adding 12,600 positions in July and 45,200 in the past year. Private employers in July added 9,100 jobs from June, while governments added 8,700, countering a longer-term trend of lower employment. The booming energy industry helped Midland record the state’s lowest jobless rate at 4.2 percent, while McAllen-Edinburg-Mission was the highest at 12.3 percent.

-- Jim Fuquay


First Cash to add 16 stores with acquisition

Just two months after it acquired 24 pawn shops in Colorado and three other states, Arlington-based First Cash Financial Services said Thursday it agreed to buy another 16 pawn shops in Colorado for about $46 million. The deal will give the company 33 full-service pawn stores in a Rocky Mountain market area that includes Colorado, Wyoming and western Nebraska and give it 127 new locations so far this year. It expects to add a total of 140 to 145 this year, boosting its store count by 21 percent from its 678 stores at the start of the year. First Cash also said its lenders agreed to increase its credit facility to $175 million from $100 million.

-- Jim Fuquay


Energy Future Holdings debt issue could prepare for bankruptcy filing

Bloomberg News has a report suggesting that Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings' issuance of $850 million in new bonds earlier this month could the a setup for a bankruptcy filing by its unregulated unit, Texas Competitive Electric Holdings, which includes Luminant Generation and TXU Energy, a retailer. Several debt analysts told Bloomberg the company faces unsustainable debt levels from its 2007 leveraged buyout of the former TXU Corp. by investment groups. The most recent bonds will be used to pay off a loan to EFH from Texas Competitive. Eliminating that liability could allow Texas Competitive to file for bankruptcy while protecting parent EFH and also Oncor Electric Delivery, EFH's regulated utility. The story is here.

-- Jim Fuquay


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