Month: August 2016

A movie star, a pizza mogul, and a carrot-topped billionaire walk into a bar…

. . . and right onto The Boulevard 400™. It’s our roster of movers, shakers and money-makers, all ranked according to how often their names appear in boldface on Louisville’s most eclectic business and culture news site. This just in! Moments ago, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter edged past Donald Trump into the No. 2 spot behind actress Jennifer Lawrence. Check out the full lineup; here’s a snapshot:

August 31 top 10 Boulevard 400 graphic

That ka-ching! you just heard was Schnatter cashing in $2.7M more Papa John’s shares

John Schnatter
Schnatter

Another day, another $2.7 million in Papa John’s stock sold, according to founder and CEO John Schnatter’s just-filed notice this afternoon with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It says the most recent sale was Monday: 35,603 more shares at $76 a share, again.

This table summarizes his month-long binge:

John Schnatter stock trades table August 2016

Not to worry (much), as we’ve been noting each time: He’s still the pizza chain’s No. 1 holder, with 10.5 million shares, including those under option. Still, executives don’t often sell when shares are poised to head higher, so Schnatter’s active trading is worth following.

Tronc’s opposition to the CJ owner’s $900M bid for the Los Angeles Times, etc., is testing ‘just-say-no’ defense

CJ August 31 2016
Today’s front.

Named after Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug campaign, the “just say no” defense has had varying degrees of success, according to Steven Davidoff Solomon, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. “Yahoo used it to fight off a $44.6 billion bid from Microsoft eight years ago,” he writes in The New York Times. “Though some dispute how serious Microsoft was at the end, Yahoo’s initial rebuff looks like a clear mistake in retrospect, as its core business recently sold for $4.8 billion.”

Tronc logoThe risk in this strategy is that The Courier-Journal’s owner, Gannett Co., walks away instead of acquiring Tronc, leaving its rival newspaper publisher to wither like Yahoo or find its own path to success, Solomon says. And if you accept Gannett’s argument, that would effectively leave the CJ and all its 108 other sister publications in a less competitive position in a future dominated by digital media.

LA Times August 31 2016
This morning’s.

So far, however, Tronc appears to be winning. Gannett’s initial offer last April was $12.25 a share, or $815 million. It boosted it to $15 the next month, or $864 million. And a published report last week says Gannett raised it again, to around $18 — even as Tronc is holding out for something closer to $20.

But that report by industry watcher Ken Doctor said it appeared Tronc would ultimately agree to a deal: “It’s apparently no longer a question of whether to sell or not, but for how much.”

If it wins, Gannett would add the L.A. paper, plus the Chicago Tribune, seven other big dailies and 160 smaller weekly and monthly niche titles to its existing portfolio of 109 publications in the U.S. and U.K. It would also add 7,000 Tronc employees to the nearly 19,000 it already employs.

UPS pilots agree to 5-year pact with 15% pay hike; B-F dives 4% on quarterly results; plus former KFC store goes to pot — a missed opportunity, BTW

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 6:05 p.m.

UPS‘s 2,500 pilots have overwhelmingly ratified a five-year labor contract with a bonus up to $60,000 per pilot, an immediate increase in base pay, and “more favorable” rest policies for overnight and international flights. The contract, which starts tomorrow, includes an immediate 14.7% pay hike, followed by annual increases of 3% over the life of the deal, the pilots association said today (WDRB). The shipper is Louisville’s single-biggest private employer, with 22,000 workers at its Louisville International Airport hub; more about UPS here.

Jack Daniel's Fire
Fire

BROWN-FORMAN said fiscal first-quarter revenue fell 5% to $856 million and earnings dropped 2% to 36 cents per share, citing weaker-than-expected results in emerging markets and a stronger U.S. dollar. The results were in line with analysts forecasts. The spirits giant also cited tough comparisons from a year ago on its flagship Jack Daniel’s, which lapped last year’s introduction of cinnamon-flavored Tennessee Fire in the U.S. Sales of Finlandia — the vodka brand rumored to be on the auction block — dropped 10% reported as results in Poland “stabilized somewhat” while they remained under pressure in Russia, given the “challenging economic backdrop” and ruble depreciation (press release). Brown-Forman has now filed its more detailed quarterly 10-Q report with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Both classes of the company’s stock fell more than 4% in the first 45 minutes of trading before recovering. The more actively traded non-voting B shares ended the day at $48.55, down $1.78, or 3.5%.

PIZZA HUT: The manager of a Pizza Hut outlet in Tokyo’s Koto Ward and three accomplices were arrested for allegedly beating the store’s deputy manager with a lead pipe and stealing 1.4 million yen (U.S. $13,500) from a safe on May 1. The victim suffered serious injuries including a fractured left arm which required more than two months to heal, police said (Tokyo Reporter).

TACO BELL and KFC: In Houston, police are investigating a smash-and-grab attempted burglary after someone crashed a vehicle into a combination Taco Bell-KFC restaurant on the city’s northeast side early today. The front doors and some of the interior were damaged, but it didn’t appear anything of value was taken (KHOU).

KFC Pittsfield
The former KFC location has already gone to weeds (heh).

And in Pittsfield, Mass., the appropriately named Happy Valley Compassion Center is proposing to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a former KFC restaurant building. Side note: It occurs to Boulevard that opening a KFC or any other fast-food outlet next to a marijuana store would be an excellent way to sell to customers with the munchies (Berkshire Eagle).

Papa John’s launches Apple TV order app, reportedly the first among pizza companies

High-definition Television
Papa John’s demonstrates the new app on its website.

Introduced today for Apple TV-equipped smart televisions, the app works like the pizza chain’s mobile app and website, letting customers customize their pizza order with a builder function. Papa John’s customers can also add other items to their order, like side dishes, drinks and desserts. They can save their favorites, view recent orders, and store payment information for future use.

Anyone following the bare-knuckled competition among fast-food companies knows technology, especially when it comes to ease-of-ordering, is critical to gain and hold market share in the most coveted, tech-savvy group: younger consumers.

Tech Times says Papa John’s is the first pizza app for Apple TV, noting: “It’s usually the company’s competitor Domino’s that makes headlines for its tech-savvy ways of ordering, such as customers being able to tweet a pizza emoji or use Amazon Echo.”

But Domino’s keeps heat on

Just last week, its New Zealand branch said it would be introducing drone delivery service. The flying robots will be operated by U.S.-based Flirtey, according to Yahoo Finance.

“We’ve always said that it doesn’t make sense to have a two-ton machine delivering a two-kilogram order,” said Domino’s CEO Don Meij, according to Britain’s Independent newspaper. “The reach that a drone offers is far greater than other current options which are restricted by traffic, roads and sheer distance.”

If successful, Domino’s will consider rolling the drones out in Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany.

With the service, customers would order pizzas using an app on their smartphone, and the drones would zero in on the phone’s GPS signal. They will fly at an altitude of about 197 feet and the customer will be notified as the delivery approaches, the Independent says. The pizzas are then lowered out of the air, ensuring the drones remain a safe distance from the public.

The Speed Museum’s new tax return reveals CEO d’Humières’s annual pay ($300K), and a larger window on non-profit finances

By Jim Hopkins
Boulevard Publisher

The Speed Museum is paying CEO Ghislain d’Humières more than $300,000 a year, according to its latest IRS tax return, the first public disclosure of the annual compensation paid to the man hired to lead one of Louisville’s preeminent cultural institutions, after a top-to-bottom renovation completed this year.

Ghislain dhumieres
D’Humieres

D’Humières joined the museum in September 2013 to help oversee the $60 million renovation already underway; it was finished with its reopening in March after being closed more than three years. He came from the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, where he also was the chief executive.

The tax return says he was paid $290,553 in salary and $18,105 in medical and retirement benefits to run the 91-year-old institution and next year’s $8.3 million budget.

D’Humières replaced Charles Venable, who in October 2012 left for the top job at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. He led the Speed for five years, and was paid $241,834 in salary and $19,250 in benefits during his last year there.

IRS tax returns filed by non-profits such as the Speed provide the fullest annual public accounting of their finances, including spending on payroll, marketing and other overhead as well as revenue from donations and investment income. The Speed’s is especially noteworthy because it’s one of the city’s most high-profile arts organizations, now under d’Humières.

Comparable pay elusive

A native of France, he holds a DEA in History and License of Art History from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne, and a Master of History from the University of Paris X Nanterre.

It’s difficult to find comparable compensation for Louisville executives in his position, partly because of his unusual academic credentials, but also because IRS tax returns often lag among the city’s handful of non-profits devoted to the arts.

Actors Theatre‘s highest-paid employee, Continue reading “The Speed Museum’s new tax return reveals CEO d’Humières’s annual pay ($300K), and a larger window on non-profit finances”