Month: October 2016

CJ owner Gannett chopping 2% of its workforce

It’s unclear whether those job cuts will come across all Gannett’s newspapers, including The Courier-Journal, or whether some will take bigger hits than others. The employment reduction, announced this morning in all all-points memo from the corporate office, comes amid forecasts that the company’s ad revenue plunged more than 12% in the third quarter, just ended; the actual results will be released Thursday.

Gannett doesn’t break out employment by subsidiary, so it’s unclear how many people work at the CJ. Company-wide, Gannett employs about 18,700; a 2% cut would be equal to about 375 jobs.

Here’s the memo from Gannett CEO Bob Dickey:

Dear colleagues,

I’m writing to share with you some critical moves we are making this week and offer some context about how they are important for our company. We have made strides in building a strong and unified culture. Honesty and transparency are cornerstones of that culture, and I am committed to both.

Over the past 16 months, we have worked hard to execute our strategy with purposeful moves:

  • expanding our footprint with the acquisitions of Journal Media Group and North Jersey Media Group.
  • creating high quality journalism, while building one nationwide news organization with the launch of the USA TODAY NETWORK.
  • leading with digital with the acquisition of ReachLocal, a best-in-class digital marketing services company, to name just a few major achievements.

These moves are central to our transformation into a leading, next-generation media company. The positive impact of these efforts will take time, which in the near-term requires us to assertively manage our costs. What’s required is not easy and I do not take it lightly.

We made the decision to reduce about 2% of our workforce across the organization, including at headquarters. We will communicate with the majority of those affected by the end of the day on Oct. 25, with actions completed by the end of the week.

We will all feel the loss of great colleagues. Each and every one of you has my deep gratitude for your many contributions to the success of our company. Actions like these are difficult, but I remain steadfastly committed to reinvesting in our employees and the capabilities required to sustain and grow our company so that we may continue to serve our customers with excellence.

Over the next 18 months, we will continue to build our scale and invest in important digital capabilities and experiences – such as critical e-commerce infrastructure and significant upgrades to our digital content platforms. I appreciate your continued commitment to the company and the future we are building together.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts, questions and ideas with me. I have created an email box specifically for your feedback at AskBob@Gannett.com.

Bob Dickey
President and CEO

Schnatter dumps $7M more in Papa shares, including single-biggest trade since start of selling spree last month

John Schnatter
Schnatter

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter has sold another big chunk of stock, according to a regulatory filing this afternoon, bringing to 411,050 shares the total he’s sold since announcing a special trading plan in early September under which he could sell up to 480,000 total.

Combined proceeds so far from all the sales, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings: $32.2 million. (Table shows all the trades.)

Today’s SEC filing says Schnatter, who founded the company in 1984, sold 86,314 shares yesterday and Wednesday for prices averaging from $80.07 to $81.02 a share. The proceeds were $6.9 million, most of it from a single sale of 63,318 on Wednesday — the largest such block since Boulevard began tracking a wave of sales he started under the trading plan.

Papa John’s stock closed at $80.45 this afternoon, up 47 cents.

Company executives often adopt “10b5-1” trading plans, named for the SEC rule that governs insider trading. They are often approved by a company’s board of directors, and require an executive to sell a certain number of shares at fixed intervals to avoid any appearance they’re trading on inside information.

Storm clouds gather over CJ owner Gannett Co.

Newspapers are suffering an accelerating drop in print advertising, a market that already was under stress, forcing some publishers to consider significant cost cuts and dramatic changes to their print and digital products, according to a new Wall Street Journal story with implications for The Courier-Journal and the broader Louisville media scene.

cj-october-21
Today’s Page One.

Jefferies stock analyst John Janedis has forecast an even more difficult calendar third quarter. Last month he lowered his estimates for Gannett Co., forecasting a 12.5% drop in combined print and digital ad revenues.

We’ll see how accurate he is when Gannett reports third-quarter results next Thursday morning.

Wall Street is worried. Gannett’s stock traded at a new 52-week low this morning, $10.16, before easing back into the black.

The figures will come after a recent management shake-up at the CJ, where top editor Neil Budde quit unexpectedly last week. Published reports said management believed too much emphasis had been placed on digital vs. the print version. That’s hard to fathom, however, when newspapers face more and more competition from online upstarts such as Insider Louisville.

GE workers in strike authorization vote; after Hurricane Matthew, it was Papa John’s to the rescue; and Jack Daniel’s general store hits the road

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 7:59 a.m.

GE APPLIANCES workers were to vote yesterday to authorize a strike as contract talks grew more contentious. The move comes about two months after GE Appliances began negotiating a new labor contract with IUE-CWA Local 83761, which represents about 4,000 rank-and-file workers at Louisville’s Appliance Park (WDRB).

PAPA JOHN’S: A man in Omaha, Neb., worried because he couldn’t reach his grandmother in Florida after Hurricane Matthew, turned to Papa John’s to find out whether she was OK. Eric Olsen said his grandmother Claire Olsen’s phone wasn’t working, and cops in Palm Coast, Fla., were “overwhelmed” when he asked them to check on her. Who else could he call in a city where he didn’t know anyone? Papa John’s. He ordered a pizza to be delivered to her house with instructions for the driver to call him on arrival. Some 30 minutes later, the pizza was there he knew she was OK. Delivery driver Lance Tyler described Claire’s expression as “just priceless.” (For her part, Claire told WFTV the pepperoni pizza was “fantastic”) (Fox News).

jack-daniels-150th-anniversary-whiskeyBROWN-FORMAN has opened the second of three elaborate pop-up Jack Daniel’s-themed “general stores”as part of the company’s ongoing 150th anniversary promotions of the brand. The latest is in Chicago six days ending Oct.22 following a stop in New York City. Next up: Miami. The installation includes local barbers; a virtual reality tour of the distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn., daytime concerts, plus Southern cooking (The Drum). Jack is the No. 1 brand at Brown-Forman, which employs 1,300 workers in Louisville and another 3,300 worldwide.

Ford idling production at Louisville auto plant as inventory levels rise too much

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 9:48 a.m.

FORD is shutting down production for a week at the Louisville Assembly Plant starting today, canceling shifts to slow production slightly as it pauses to allow demand to catch up with supply.  A second week off is scheduled to start Oct. 31. Sales of the two compact SUVs made there — Escape and MKC — are up slightly through September, but Ford officials said they want to keep production and inventory levels in line (Courier-Journal). The company employs nearly 4,700 workers at the factory, plus another 5,100 at its sister truck factory. More about Ford in Louisville.

mark-fields
Fields

CEO Mark Fields is recasting the company as an auto maker and a transportation-services provider, as he pivots away from predecessor Alan Mulallay’s “One Ford” vision, shorthand for a painful downsizing and management overhauls that helped the automaker avoid bankruptcy and return to big profits. In recent months, according to a new Wall Street Journal story today, it has launched a series of investments and partnerships in areas like self-driving automobiles, electrified vehicles and ride sharing.

But those efforts have done little to raise the company’s stock, which has fallen by roughly 30% since Fields took over in mid-2014, despite record earnings last year. Investors appear more focused on plateauing U.S. auto sales and the company’s weakening near-term profit outlook. Some market watchers also say it isn’t clear how the new initiatives will mesh strategically (WSJ).

Amid orchestra’s contract talks, lessons learned after the wolf’s been chased away

July 4th Louisville orchestra
Music Director Teddy Abrams leads players during a July 4th concert at Waterfont Park.
Louisville Orchestra‘s 2011 bankruptcy recalls one of the morals from Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” — let down your guard, and you may get gobbled up. Back then, the ensemble had grown overly reliant on a relative handful of backers, missing signs their generosity was about to dry up amid the financial crisis.

“No one wanted to face the reality that one day support would end,” Jorge Mester, the music director at the time, told The New York Times for a story about a string of financial crises roiling orchestras that spring.

Now, five years later, the Louisville orchestra is on far more stable footing. Contributions and grants jumped 29% in the year ended May 31, 2015, bringing total revenue to $7.2 million, according to its most recent IRS tax return. After expenses, that left a $1.3 million surplus. The endowment rose about 3% to nearly $1.6 million.

Launched in 1937, the orchestra has about 170 employees and an energetic music director, Teddy Abrams, who started in 2014 after working as assistant conductor at the Detroit Symphony. Abrams, 29, is among a new vanguard of conductors hoping to attract a younger audience and a wider donor base to guard against another sharp downtown.

Against that backdrop, management and players have started negotiations for a new contract to replace one that expired last spring, according to The Courier-Journal. They’re not alone. From coast to coast this year, other ensembles have been in contract talks, too, amid a stronger economy that’s fortified players’ resolve to claw back wages and benefits lost during the financial crisis.

andrew-kipe
Kipe
The tenor of Louisville’s contract talks isn’t known because negotiators aren’t talking publicly. “The organization is still a bit fragile, and we are in the middle of planning,” Executive Director Andrew Kipe told the newspaper.

But a review of the group’s recent IRS returns, alongside contract talks at other orchestras, offers a glimpse at the fraught stakes involved. Continue reading “Amid orchestra’s contract talks, lessons learned after the wolf’s been chased away”