Haier tiptoes toward union, Churchill in $25M hotel plan, and Amazon’s primed for growth

Latest news, with a special focus on big Louisville employers; updated at 11:46 a.m.

GE: In a letter to employees, new owner Haier is raising potentially fraught labor-management relations with the IUE-CWA union representing workers at the mammoth Appliances Park complex. The China-based company has agreed to buy GE Appliances for $5.4 billion in a deal expected to close this spring (Business First). Also, GE Appliances and Amatrol Inc. have donated $123,000 in funds and equipment for new state-of-the-art lab opening in Bullitt County to help prepare students for a manufacturing career (WLKY).

CHURCHILL DOWNSstock is sinking following yesterday’s first-quarter earnings miss. Shares recently traded for $135.65, down 4.8%, amid an overall decline in U.S. markets. Also, the company plans a new $25 million hotel for its Oxford Casino in Maine. Construction is expected to start in June and be completed in summer 2017. Churchill bought the property three years ago for $160 million. It now employs 400 and will add another 60 jobs with the hotel expansion (press release).

Amazon logoAMAZON‘s Prime memberships grew 51% last year, including 47% growth in the U.S., the company said yesterday in its surprisingly strong first-quarter earnings report. The shipper doesn’t release detailed numbers on Prime, but Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter estimates there are about 50 million members. And he estimates members spend about four times what others do, and account for about a third of all Amazon purchases (ABC News). As always, what’s good for Amazon is good for UPS’ enormous Louisville hub. In pre-market trading this morning, Amazon’s stock skyrocketed 12% to $676 a share.

FORD is developing an electric car competitive with Chevrolet’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3, CEO Mark Fields said yesterday (Automotive News and Bloomberg). Also, a transcript’s now available of yesterday’s first-quarter conference call with top executives of the automaker and Wall Street analysts (Seeking Alpha). Ford’s stock jumped 3.2%, closing at $14.10 on the earnings report.

PAPA JOHN’S yesterday declared a regular quarterly dividend of 17.5 cents per share, payable May 20 to shareholders of record May 9 (press release). Shares fell 2.8% to $56.49.

UPS is comfortable with China growth, but concerned about the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union (Reuters). Also, the shipper’s transcript of yesterday’s quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts is now available (Seeking Alpha).

In other news, Ohio developer Edwards Cos. has cleared up a financial roadblock and will proceed with plans to develop two large apartment complexes along East Broadway near Baxter Avenue at a combined cost of $65 million. The company had previously cast doubt on the project’s future without Metro Louisville incentives beyond the $7.5 million already offered (Courier-Journal). And U.S. stock index futures pointed to a flat to slightly lower open this morning, following hefty losses on yesterday, as traders eyed earnings and data (CNBC).

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