Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 4:12 PM

The Philadelphia-based Villa chain of urban-focused retail stores (fka Sneaker Villa) says it has purchased Dallas-based DK Foot & Casual and its 12 Texas stores, for an undisclosed price. The move extends Villa to the South for the first time amid what chief executive Jason Lutz, whose family opened the first Sneaker Villa in Reading in 1989, calls "the fast-moving consolidation pattern that is impacting urban retail."

Villa plans to double the number of DK stores in Texas by next year. By December Villa said in a statement it expects to operate 117 locations plus its "rapidly-growing e-commerce business," based on "its deep connection with urban youth" through offering "curated" selections by Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Timberland and other brands while "elevating" what it calls "underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods."

POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 11:38 AM

Shares of McDonald's Corp. have slipped from $103.53 in May (six cents short of their alltime high a year before) to under $92 in recent trading. They aren't worth a penny more, warns analyst Mark Kalinowski, in a report today to clients of Janney Capital Markets with the horror-move title, "That's Not Ketchup... It's Blood." 

Kalinowski bases his pessimism on McDonald's own U.S. same-store sales figures, down nearly 3% in August, with a similar drop in market share for the second straight month, plus a worse-than-expected drop in Europe and a much bigger decline in Asia with its China-meat-sourcing scare. Kalinkwski is cutting rest-of-the-year profit estimates and is not recommending the stock (neutral). The chance of a quick rebound is "small," he adds.  

Previous Kalinowski views of Mickey D's: in 2011, with sales still rising; in 2013, with Wendy's and other chains starting to eat McDonald's lunch; more recently, vs. Chik-Fil-A, with franchisees getting a little worried. Plus, minimum wages and one family's experience working at the Golden Arches.

POSTED: Monday, September 8, 2014, 4:12 PM

Pennsylvania has committed another $2.5 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funds and the City of Philadelphia has added $4 million in city funds to give a group of developers planning East Market, a $230 million redevelopment of the 1100 block of Market Street in Center City Philadelphia, Gov. Tom Corbett's office said in a statement. East Market was already in line for $7.5 milllion in state RACP funds, matching grants awarded after a project is finished.

Site prep work has already begun, with demolition now slated for mid-October and construction to begin early next year. Later stages of the project will replace or renovate other structures all the way to Chestnut St.

East Market, on land owned by the Board of City Trusts and the Girard Estate, which funds Girard College, is being built by Washington-based National Real Estate Development Co., which invests for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and other labor unions. Girard Estate has leased the land for the project to a group of investorsincluding National Real Estate Development, Joss Realty Partners, Young Capital and SSH Real Estate.  

POSTED: Monday, September 8, 2014, 12:36 PM

Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., which finances private businesses and invests for their owners, on Friday plans to close its familiar sandy-colored six-story office at 1531 Walnut St., where it's been since 1927, to move to 20,000 sq. ft. at 130 N. 18th St., Brandywine Realty Trust's 31-story modern office tower at One Logan Square, behind the Four Seasons Hotel. Owner Jim Pearlstein has sought tenants for the ground-floor retail space where Brown Bros. had its wood-paneled branch; broker Steve Viturello of Perna Frederick is seeking office leases for upstairs floors in the six-story building, where Brown Bros. occupied about 23,000 sq. ft. plus the basement.

The firm traces its roots to Philadelphia, where Brown Bros. was founded in 1818 by two sons of the immigrant merchant who started Alex. Brown & Sons (now part of Deutsche Bank). The Brown office has been at 1531 Walnut since the 1920s, when the Philadelphia Stock Exchange was based nearby at Broad and Walnut and most of the city's major banks and brokers nearby.

But the local office has been more of a regional branch even before Brown merged with New York-based Harriman & Co. in the Depression year of 1931. The firm has at least 16 other local offices around the world, including one in Wilmington.

POSTED: Monday, September 8, 2014, 11:32 AM
Chris Ashton (left), 41, holding Reggie, and his wife Natasha, 40, holding Montgomery, are co-founders and co-ceo's of their company Petplan, which sells pet medical insurance. They were photographed at the company's Newtown Square office July 2, 2014. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

After "many years" in negotiation, Petplan, the Newtown Square pet health insurer founded by husband-and-wife Brit-expat Wharton grads Chris and Natasha Ashton, says it has cut a "first and exclusive" multi-year marketing deal with the 38 million+ member American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

"The offer goes live in October," Chris, a former Royal Marine officer, told me. Outreach to AARP's "massive membership will transform awareness for pet insurance and Petplan," he predicted. AARP will collect royalties as the business grows. Ashton won't say how much.

Petplan employs more than 130 at its headquarters, where staff are encouraged to bring well-trained pets to work with them. Petplan markets policies issued by global insurer Allianz, unlike rival Trupanion, whose American Pet Insurance Co. underwrites its own policies. Trupanion went public in July at $10 a share and now trades around at $8.50.

POSTED: Monday, September 8, 2014, 11:12 AM
FILE - In this April 8, 2008 file photo, salesman Hank Pham puts the price on a General Electric (GE) microwave in the appliances section of Howard's Appliance and Big-Screen Superstore in San Gabriel, Calif. Sweden's Electrolux is buying the appliances business of GE for $3.3 billion, boosting its presence on the North American market, the companies said Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

Electrolux, the Sweden-based company that makes Frigidaire refrigerators, Electrolux vacuums and other home appliances, has agreed to pay $3.3 billion for General Electric's 12,000-worker home appliance business, including its factory center at Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky., reports the Louisville Courier-Journal here.

The deal makes Electrolux the top rival to Whirlpool (which owns Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air and others) for leadership of the U.S. home appliance market, says Bloomberg here.  Electrolux will keep using the GE brand under a 40-year deal. Electrolux statement here.

POSTED: Monday, September 8, 2014, 7:25 AM

FMC Corp., the Philadelphia chemical maker that plans to move its headquarters into a new 49-story tower in University City, said this morning it has agreed to buy Denmark-based pesticide maker Cheminova A/S for $1.8 billion. FMC shares rose modestly on what was for most stocks a down morning.

FMC also said it is changing its plan to split into two companies, which would both have been based in the new tower. FMC will instead keep its Lithium unit (used in batteries), while finding a buyer for its profitable Alkali Chemicals mining and manufacturing division (which mines soda ash and other raw materials, and sells to glass and detergent makers and other basic industries).

FMC also promised savings from combining the companies' marketing, manufacturing and other operations as duplicate jobs and facilities are "rationalized" over the next two years.  Alkali sale proceeds will be used to pay loans used to buy Cheminova and other FMC debt. Brondeau expects the Cheminova deal to finish in early 2015 and the Alkali sale to be done by mid-2015. 

POSTED: Friday, September 5, 2014, 12:27 PM

Haverford College grad Adam Schran, who founded Center City-based Ascentive in 1999, typically keeps a low profile, not answering inquiries about the complaints his company allegedly sold "scareware" security software that didn't make some computers more secure, or the court settlements in which his company paid millions to consumers, see stories here and here and here, Better Business Bureau report here.

But Schran seems assured of immorality: The heaviest-ever dinosaur, dug up in Argentina, has been named Dreadnoughtus schrani -- Schran's Fearless -- by Drexel University scientists grateful for the money he has given their research. Wherever he got it.

And maybe naming a 65-ton dinosaur for an aggressive, even notorious, Web software developer doesn't sound so strange, when you think about it. 

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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