We’re talking about the 143rd Kentucky Derby, of course! That’s according to our exclusive 2017 Derby Countdown Clock™. Until then, here’s figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir at this year’s first Saturday in May.
Embed from Getty Images
Here are shares of big employers in the Boulevard Stock Portfolio, ranked by weekly performance at today’s closing price, with the S&P 500 index for comparison. Starting this week, we’re adding a new one to the portfolio: Qingdao Haier Co., which we’ll be referring to simply as Haier; its shares are listed on the Shanghai exchange.
The Chinese company completed its $5.6 billion purchase of 6,000-employee Appliance Park on Monday, along with the rest of GE’s “white goods” business, making refrigerators and other residential appliances. Boulevard will continue to track GE’s stock, too, given all the shareholders in Louisville.
Haier (pronounced “hire”) didn’t have the best debut here; shares fell 2% from a week ago, to $9.18.
Muhammad Ali is being honored and buried today with more pomp and circumstance than his hometown has seen in recent memory. Updated 2:55 p.m.
The funeral procession for the prize fighter and globally famous humanitarian started at 9 a.m. The roughly 17-car motorcade, including a hearse carrying his body, passed places significant in his life, including his boyhood home in the West End, down the boulevard named for him, and the Muhammad Ali Center he opened in 2005, according to The Courier-Journal.
Amid heightened security, the procession was expected to take more than 90 minutes and include rolling street closures by police. It will end with a private burial in an undisclosed location at Cave Hill Cemetery in the Highlands, which will be closed to the public. Pallbearers are to include actor Will Smith, who portrayed Ali in the 2001 film of the same name, and boxer Mike Tyson.
Today’s events will culminate in a 2 p.m. memorial service at the KFC Yum Center before an estimated 15,000 people. President Clinton, the comedian Billy Crystal, and other luminaries will deliver eulogies. King Abdullah II of Jordan also was to be there.
But another prominent guest, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, cut his visit short and did not plan to attend today’s memorial service amid reports of a rift with the organizers, according to Britain’s Daily Mail. He attended a Muslim prayer ceremony for Ali yesterday, but left the city after his slot was cut from the speakers’ programs because of time constraints. Erdoğan came to Louisville because he was said to have admired Ali, as a committed Muslim and civil rights campaigner.
Security was to be extensive for perhaps hundreds of thousands of mourners along the procession route, and to protect the visiting world leaders. An estimated 500 Louisville police officers were to line the route and secure other locations. The Secret Service will be present as well.
The Ali Center planned to stream the Yum center memorial service from its website; details. Local TV stations are broadcasting live, as was CNN and The New York Times. The Today show‘s Matt Lauer led reporting from the city. The CJ is providing fresh updates. And Twitter is awash in Tweets, where actor Smith is now trending.
Ali and his inner circle planned this week’s services in secrecy during the years he battled Parkinson’s disease. He died last week in Phoenix, his primary home, at 74.
Shortly after he defeated Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight title in February 1964, Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. The new name, bestowed by Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, “was important to Ali, who referred to Cassius Clay as his slave name and took umbrage when people used it,” The New York Times says in a new story.
But in The Courier-Journal, the Times, and many other papers and magazines, “Cassius Clay won the Liston rematch in 1965, Cassius Clay beat Cleveland Williams in 1966, and Cassius Clay refused to be inducted into the Army in 1967.”
Indeed, the earliest CJ reference to the late Louisville native by his chosen name didn’t come until Aug 24, 1969, when the paper’s Bill Petersen interviewed him in Chicago, according to a search this morning of the CJ archives in Newspapers.com. At the time, Ali faced five years in prison and a $10,000* fine after his 1967 draft evasion conviction; on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court eventually threw it out. (Correction: In fact, the CJ used “Ali” as early as 1964, the year he adopted it; please read this new post.)
Under a Page One headline that said, “Going to Jail for Beliefs Appeals to Cassius, Deposed Champ,” Peterson wrote: “The mature Muhammad Ali — Cassius Clay, if you prefer — looked good. He was still [lightning] fast. His shoulders and biceps were immense. His stomach was flat.”
Ali died last week in Phoenix, his primary home, after battling Parkinson’s disease for decades; he was 74. He will be buried at Cave Hill Cemetery today.
* $65,000 in 2016 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.
“I can’t wait until my time is that precious.”
— an unidentified woman, after hearing attorney Bill Bardenwerper tell a community meeting that it actually took Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter a full 15 minutes — rather than only 10 — to drive to company headquarters from his mansion in exclusive Anchorage. Schnatter met with neighbors last night to promise he’d limit his nearby helicoptering to cut down on any noise it created, according to Insider Louisville.
Schnatter’s palatial 40,000-square-foot home sits on 16 acres, and features a 22-car underground garage:
A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 4:51 p.m.
BROWN-FORMAN: Amid recent speculation the company is considering selling Finlandia, CEO Paul Varga threw tepid support behind the vodka brand during the fiscal fourth-quarter conference call with Wall Street analysts yesterday; he was responding to an analyst’s question about Finlandia’s being a “drag” on growth.
“Finlandia has been very important to particularly Jack Daniel’s development in Eastern Europe over the last decade,” Varga said, according to Seeking Alpha’s transcript. “It’s just a very difficult time for the vodka segments in those Eastern European countries right now, and we’ve seen this before with categories where they go through some rough times. . . . Right now, we continue to work Finlandia” (Seeking Alpha).
PIZZA HUT: Yum CEO Greg Creed, conceding in especially frank language that Domino’s has greater U.S. revenue momentum, says improving ordering technology is critical. “We have to get our technology in shape in order to be as easy to order, pay, and track [as possible],” he told an investor conference Wednesday, “and I think as we build the brand and we get that in shape, we’ll actually build more units and that will give us greater physical access.” Pizza Hut has 8,100 U.S. locations, including its Express format vs. more than 5,200 for Domino’s (The Street).
Technology is key to luring millenials and other young customers. Domino’s newest technology shows the challenge. The company’s biggest franchiser in Australia yesterday said it will start using satellites next week to follow customers as they approach stores to pick up already-placed orders, allowing the company to wait until the last moment to start cooking so orders stay fresh. The fast-food surveillance measure, which starts Monday, comes a decade after Domino’s started letting customers track their own orders. The newest service works with customers who place orders with their GPS-equipped smartphones, and opt in to be tracked. They can specify whether they’re coming on foot, on bike, or by car (Bloomberg). Other recent Domino’s innovations include the capabilities to order food via emoji, smartwatch, or a “zero-click” mobile app (Eater).
PAPA JOHN’S CEO John Schnatter promised neighbors in tony Anchorage he would limit his personal helicopter use to six or fewer times a week, and only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.; they had complained about the noise it created (Insider Louisville).
In other news, U.S. stocks accelerated their decline an hour before markets closed, as Wall Street looked ahead to a Federal Reserve meeting, and the U.K.’s so-called Brexit vote due later this month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and other major indices were all down about 1% (Google Finance).
Oscar-winner and Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence will portray Elizabeth Holmes, the 32-year-old disgraced founder of the controversial blood-testing startup Theranos; the new film is still in development. Lawrence, 25, played an entrepreneur last year in Joy, about the inventor of a kitchen mop (Hollywood Reporter). Louisville filmmaker Matthew Fulks has sued singer Beyoncé, claiming a trailer for the Grammy winner’s new Lemonade movie copied elements of his 2014 short film Palinoia (Spin and Vulture).
Watch the trailer, and Fulks’ film: