Day: August 2, 2016

With the forecast highs in Louisville at 90 degrees or above through Friday, let’s make every day National Ice Cream Sandwich Day — not just today.

For $10-$50 an hour, there are 146 people in Louisville who rent themselves out as friends. (Seriously)

time-clockBoulevard reports extensively on executive pay at big local employers. But we also look at what folks make down in the trenches — and off in the more unexpected corners of the Internet. Here’s our latest installment.

The job: friend for hire.

The duties: accompany clients to the movies; take them bike-riding; hit Oxmoor Center for shopping — basically, anything friends would do, except for that benefits stuff. They’re available through a company called, appropriately enough, Rent-a-Friend. And according to ABC News, this is an entirely legit operation — no romance, and especially no sex. Worldwide, Rent-a-Friend has 531,434 to choose from. We reviewed all 146 local ones, then drew a brief portrait of rentable Louisville, starting with:

Nick, a 23-year-old college undergraduate whose field of study would make an interesting conversation-starter: skeletal forensics. Roger once spent seven months tree-sitting in the Redwoods of California; now 31, he organizes arts grants fundraisers for the annual Burning Man gathering. A guy named Fun Man is 6’6″ tall, and points out: “I am built-in security for you, as I am a trained fighter.”

Another man, who’s nearly (6’5″) as tall and goes by the name Money, loves to travel. As does Derrick, we imagine, because he can write and read Greek. But if you want to travel more widely, Timo speaks three languages (almost) fluently, and can communicate effectively in two more. (And since he’s only 21, he may have already picked up a sixth by the time you meet him.)

Rent A Friend logoCloser to home, Tommy would be handy because, at 51, he’s a jack-of-four-trades: rentable friend, actor, Uber driver, and window cleaner. Now, if you’re thinking about doing something shady for fun, you’d probably want to reconsider renting a 30-year-old woman who calls herself That There One Chick, because she’s a corrections officer. On the other hand, if you did get into trouble, Ryan is an attorney. And finally, last but not least, because he’s got an interesting nickname, G. Carver‘s friends call him “Cadillac.”

Photo, top: Two attendees at Burning Man — an annual event that Louisville’s rentable friend Roger helps support through fundraisers he organizes. That’s a photo by Flickr member Christopher Michel.

Papa John’s Q2 report beats forecasts on revenue and profits; shares up modestly after hours

Papa John's logoThe Louisville-based pizza chain reported second-quarter revenues of $423 million, a 6% increase from the year-ago quarter’s $399 million. Earnings were 61 cents per diluted share, a 29.8% bump from a year ago. The results beat forecast estimates. On average, analysts had been expecting 414.8 million in revenue and 54 cents EPS, according to Yahoo Finance.

Papa John’s also boosted its earnings guidance for the rest of the year, to a range of $2.35 to $2.45 a share from the prior range of $2.30 to $2.40, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing after stock markets closed. In the after-hours session, shares were trading for $74.40, up less than 1%. In the regular session, they closed at $74.01, down 20 cents.

Strange bedfellows: A dainty KFC-eating Trump draws comparisons to Dukakis’ infamous tank photo

That’s just one of the better overnight Twitter reactions to Donald Trump‘s Tweeted photo last night of himself eating a KFC meal with silverware aboard his jet. Perez Hilton posted a nice roundup of the rest.

Here’s Trump and Democrat Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, whose failed 1988 White House campaign took a public relations hit after his staged outing in a tank failed to counter Republican charges he was weak on national defense:

Trump and Dukakis
Trump and Dukakis: in the bucket vs. in the tank.

UnitedHealthcare protests $40.5B Humana contract; Roadhouse dives 12% on Q2 report; Trump eats KFC with metal utensils — Internet howls; and Taco Bell workers in Calif. gone after cop-taunting report

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 5:09 p.m.

HUMANA: UnitedHealthcare has filed a formal protest against a Defense Department decision to award the next round of Tricare contracts to Humana and another competitor. The Pentagon selected Humana Government Business to manage the brand new East region, a consolidation of the North and South regions, in a contract worth as much as $40.5 billion. Health Net Federal Services got the West region contract. Humana manages the current South region and Health Net the North (Military Times).

Humana and Aetna logos 250Also, Humana and Aetna announced this morning a deal to sell some of their Medicare Advantage assets to Molina Healthcare for $117 million in cash, in the health insurers’ latest effort to win Justice Department approval for their proposed $37 billion merger. The transactions are subject to the successful completion of the merger, plus approvals from regulators. Under the deal, Molina would get about 290,000 Medicare Advantage members in 21 states, the two companies said, “preserving robust competition for seniors choosing to receive Medicare coverage through Medicare Advantage plans and addressing a key concern of the U.S. Department of Justice in its challenge to the Aetna-Humana transaction” (press release). Today’s announcement followed a July 21 DOJ lawsuit against the two companies to block their tie-up over fears it would be anticompetitive and raise consumer prices.

Aetna, meanwhile, reported better-than-expected second-quarter results this morning, in a report where it also became the last of the five major national health insurers to project a loss on Affordable Care Act plans for 2016. The Hartford-based insurer said it would re-evaluate its participation in the business and cancel a planned expansion. It also said it was setting up a $65 million reserve to account for expected losses on individual plans over the rest of this year (Wall Street Journal).

Kent Taylor

TEXAS ROADHOUSE shares fell sharply, closing at $41.80, down 12.4%, or $5.90, after the Louisville-based steakhouse chain reported disappointing second-quarter results yesterday after stock markets had already closed (Google Finance). Founder and CEO Kent Taylor discussed the results with Wall Street analysts in a transcript (Seeking Alpha). The chain has nearly 500 company-owned and franchised restaurants in 49 states plus five foreign countries with 48,000 employees. About 500 of those workers are in Louisville; more about Texas Roadhouse.

FORD said total truck sales, including pickups and vans, grew 5% in July versus a year ago with 87,104 sold. Overall company U.S. sales were down 3%, with 216,479 total vehicles sold (press release). Shares closed at $11.94, down 4.3%, or 53 cents (Google Finance). Ford’s Kentucky Truck Factory employs about 5,100 workers, producing F-250 and F-550 Super Duty pickups, plus Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators.

KFC: The World Wide Web is chowing down on a photo of GOP White House nominee Donald Trump eating a KFC meal last night aboard his gold-plated private jet, using real cutlery (as opposed to the plastic utensils most everyone else uses or, let’s be clear, hands). Trump tweeted a photo of the moment near 10:30 p.m.; see Tweet, above. “It’s tiny finger lickin’ good,” wrote the New York Daily News, which then went on to quote one Twitter user saying: “Eating KFC with a fork and knife is like eating a candy bar with chopsticks.”

Britain’s Telegraph was even more over-the-top pretend aghast: “What kind of madman — what kind of abominable lizard in an orange human skin suit, a Sunny Delight scare story incarnate — would eat a biscuit with a knife and fork? The same madman who was last night pictured eating a bucket of KFC with a knife and fork, that’s who.” And then there was the whole KFC vs. Popeyes vs. Bojangles’ contretemps (Daily NewsTelegraph and Daily Caller). Here’s yet more news coverage — plus, all the Twitter reaction.

TACO BELL: In California, several employees in northwest Bakersfield no longer work at a Taco Bell there after reports they had taunted a local police officer last week, according to the manager of the outlet. A customer had told a local TV station he could hear the employees making “oink oink” sounds and laughing while the officer was ordering. The manager said the employees no longer work there; he could not say how many employees were involved (Kern Golden Empire).