Annual reports document workforce cuts by A.C. Moore, MedQuist

Corporate annual reports began flooding into the Securities and Exchange Commission last week.

If you own shares in a public company, you really should read the document it files with the SEC called a Form 10-K.

Federal rules require many companies to file their annual reports within 75 days of the end of their fiscal years. Given that most companies use Dec. 31 for their year-end, today is Day 75 for them.

Form 10-Ks are the basis for beginning to understand what a company does, how it fits into its industry and a ton of numbers that describe its financial condition.

You can also look at the annual reports of a company over time to see how it has evolved, or devolved. Rising unemployment has been the story over the last few months, so I looked at seven local companies that filed their 10-Ks last week to see how their workforces had changed year over year.

The smallest was Fox Chase Bancorp Inc. with a workforce of 151, down by two people.. The largest was MedQuist Inc., a medical transcription company, with 6,380 employees.

In all, the seven companies employed 13,107 people, according to their most recent annual reports. That’s 15 percent lower than the 15,443 people a year ago.

MedQuist shed the most jobs, cutting 1,132 people. But A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts Inc. wasn’t far behind, eliminating 1,068 positions at its stores.

The Blackwood-based A.C. Moore has been restructuring its operations under its current management. It’s cut full-time and part-time help alike. Still, the number of employees who work in its corporate offices rose to 168 as of Jan. 3, from 149 a year ago.

Two of the seven companies added jobs, but we’re talking only 12 employees between them. Tasty Baking Co. had 883 employees as of March 1. Its full-time workforce declined as its part-time ranks grew. Abington Bancorp Inc. added seven employees, giving it 177 employees.

Marlin Business Services Corp., an equipment financing firm, slashed its workforce by 20 percent between 2007 and 2008. It employed 284 people as of Dec. 31, down from 357 the previous year. And the company is still cutting, disclosing in its annual report that it reduced its workforce by 17 percent, or 49 people during the first quarter of 2009.

The last company was Advanta Corp., which provides credit cards to small business. It too has been reducing its headcount in the tight credit environment. It had 841 employees as of Dec. 31, down from 914.

But bigger cuts came in this year. In January, Advanta said it would eliminate about a third of its workforce. In February, it filed notice with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry that it would eliminate 281 jobs.

No thanks

Count the parent company of First National Bank of Chester County out of the federal bank bailout program.

The U.S. Treasury Department had given approval to provide up to $25 million in capital to First Chester County Corp. The West Chester bank holding company had scheduled a special meeting of its shareholders for Wednesday to authorize the issuance of 30,000 shares of preferred stock to the Treasury.

Well, that meeting’s not going to happen now. First Chester County has become the latest bank to say “no thanks.”

CEO John A. Featherman III said in a statement that the rules and regulations of the federal Capital Purchase Program had changed in ways that “would restrict the way we support our shareholders, customers, employees and communities.”

That’s a polite way of saying what Sun Bancorp Inc. CEO Thomas X. Geisel said last week: The whole program has become politicized.

Where the Treasury Department had wanted to avoid stigmatizing banks who accepted taxpayer money and thus invited healthy banks to apply for its relatively inexpensive capital, various lawmakers have had no such restraint in demonizing bankers.

As the rules changed, changed and changed again, it clear that some bankers now view the federal program as more trouble than it’s worth.

Last call at malls

The retail sales numbers may have been surprisingly positive last week, but retailers and shopping centers they’re in aren’t ready to celebrate just yet.

Last week, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns a lot of the shopping malls locally, announced plans to reduce hours at some of them as of March 30.

The following malls will close at 9 p.m. rather than 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday: Cumberland, Exton Square, The Mall at Voorhees Town Center, Moorestown, Plymouth Meeting, Springfield and Willow Grove Park.

The Gallery at Market East in Center city will close at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Currently, it closes at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Open times for all the malls remain the same as do Sunday hours. The shopping mall owner said it’s been monitoring mall traffic patterns and has noticed a shift to earlier peak shopping hours.


Today: BMP Sunstone, Stonemor Partners, SL Industries;

Tuesday: Hemispherx Biopharma, Royal Bancshares of Pennsylvania, WPCS International;

Wednesday: Charming Shoppes;

Thursday: InTest, PhotoMedex.


A lot of banks were priced for Armageddon. When some of the names which were most under the gun say things are looking better, that’s certainly good news.

- Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management in Philadelphia told Bloomberg News.