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Archive: October, 2009

POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009, 1:54 PM

It's not completely terrible that foreign-owned companies are getting most of the money from a $1 billion U.S. subsidy for wind and other alternative power generation. At least these companies have been creating U.S. jobs. Right?

But it does make people go "Hmm" to learn the subsidies have no strings attached. They're rewards, not incentives. Wouldn't it be better to require that they reinvest that cash here in the U.S. before pocketing profits? That's what the Investigative Reporting Workshop, Washington, DC, asks in its wind-subsidy project, "Blown Away", here.

The story cites the admission by a Treasury official that "there are no restrictions on the use of the funds" by the companies that collect them. Which is what I reported in my Sept. 2 column and the previous day's blog.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 1:54 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009, 12:25 PM

While "most of the major job losses have already occurred," Brandywine Realty Trust ceo Jerry Sweeney told investors after reporting earnings, "we do expect additional job losses" in the Philadelphia area "to impact the professional and business service sectors" next year.

Looks a little better in Brandywine's other markets - Washington DC and Austin - where government jobs rule.

That means "lower absorption and leasing activity levels along with corresponding continued pressure on rental levels," Sweeney added. And it's become harder than usual to predict whether tenants are going to keep their space next year. Full transcript via Financial Times' SeekingAlpha.com here.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:25 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009, 12:17 PM

A back-to-back Philadelphia World Series championship would be "the worst omen for the economy if history repeats itself," says Bloomberg News here, citing West Chester-based Moody's Economy.com analyst Ryan Sweet and recalling the old Philadelphia A's 1929 and 1930 performance that ushered in the Great Depression.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:17 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009, 12:08 PM

The US Treasury has passed out another $5 billion in "New Markets Tax Credits" to investors who back projects that banks apparently can't or won't finance on the cheap. The annual progarm has been juiced this year by an extra $1.5 billion in federal Recovery Act funds.

List of the developers who'll be awarding the credits to their private-sector investors here. Locally, includes:

- $90 million for the Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a Philadelphia-based entity that finances supermarkets, publicly-funded charter schools, and "other commercial real estate assets" in the New Jersey-Washington corridor;

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:08 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009, 11:50 AM

Metro Bancorp (formerly Commerce Bank of Pennsylvania) and First Republic Bank of Philadelphia have again extended their merger deadline, to Dec. 31, from the previous Oct. 31. Reports here and here.

Metro follows a fast-growth business plan modeled on the former Commerce Bancorp, whose founder, Vernon Hill, is Republic's lead investor. The banks' bosses announced the deal last fall, and their boards voted approval in March.

But Metro, which has already pushed back the deadline from June to October, says the banks need another two months "to obtain required regulatory approvals for the merger." They're still waiting for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Banking Department to say it's OK.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:50 AM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Friday, October 30, 2009, 11:42 AM

When Lehman Bros. blew up last fall because it invested billions of dollars of clients' money in bad mortgages, the paintings that had lined the corridors and walls of its offices from Wall Street to Wilmington were dumped on the recessionary art market.

Samuel Freeman & Co., in the 1800 block of Walnut St., will be taking bids on the Lehman detritus as part of its "Modern & Contemporary" art auction, Sunday, All Saints' Day, at noon. Sale catalogue here.

Won't do much to comfort former Lehman shareholders, investors in Lehman retirement products, or ex-employees. Though it's cheerful stuff, some of it.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:42 AM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 2:30 PM

Harleysville Group got lucky in the third quarter, according to Janney Langen McAlenney analyst Robert Glasspiegel's report to clients this morning. Earnings report here.

Harleysville says written insurance premiums fell 8%, vs an expected 5% drop, in the weak insurance market. But earnings were still above expectations, thanks in part to the "absence of cats."

He doesn't mean felines; he means hurricanes and other catastrophes. Those big claims trimmed Harleysville for less than $1 million in the quarter, down from nearly $4 million last year.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 2:30 PM  Permalink | 0
POSTED: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 11:51 AM

Brandywine Realth Trust shares were flat this morning, in a rising market, after the Radnor-based office landlord reported cash flow a little better than expected for the first quarter. Report here.

Brandywine's sharheolder dividend, 10 cents a share in the fourth quarter, around 15 cents each quarter next year, "was below our expectations," wrote Janney Montgomery Scott analysts Daniel P. Donlan and Andrew DiZio.

They figure Brandywine  CEO Jerry Sweeney "is choosing to maintain a healthy spread between its free cash flow and dividend payout," so Brandywine will be ready "to take advantage of future acquisition opportunities." Plus they expect Brandywine's home market in Philadelphia and other mid-Atlantic office centers "should see a recovery in rental rates and demand ahead of the broader U.S. market." 

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:51 AM  Permalink | 0
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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