Tag: Churchill Downs

Prominent U.S. senators ask DOJ to block Humana-Aetna deal; and FAA hits Amazon with another hazardous shipping fine

A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 4:23 p.m.

Richard Blumenthal

HUMANA: A group of high-profile U.S. Senate Democrats yesterday urged the Justice Department to block the proposed Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers, which would shrink the number of national health insurers to three from five. In a letter, they argued the pending tie-ups would threaten jobs, raise premiums, and reduce the quality of care. The letter was signed by Al Franken of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California, Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii — and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, in whose state both Aetna and Cigna are headquartered (Business Insurance). Aetna officials have said they expect the $37 billion merger with Humana will close in this year’s second half.

AMAZON: The FAA has proposed fining Amazon another $130,000 for twice shipping hazardous packages in 2014 without warning labels or emergency response information. In one,  the retailer offered UPS a box with a 19-ounce container of Simple Air EZ Green HVAC Cleaner. The flammable gas was discovered by UPS workers in Kentucky; the second incident involved FedEx. The proposed penalty comes two weeks after the FAA fined Amazon $350,000 over a similar incident that caused injuries to several UPS workers (CIO). Also, a San Francisco Bay area woman learned the hard way that Amazon can, indeed, ban you for good if you return too many orders — although she eventually got a reprieve (NBC). Amazon employs 6,000 at two distribution centers near Louisville.

Papa John's logoPAPA JOHN’S: Researcher Nomura yesterday downgraded Papa John’s stock to neutral from buy, partly because of concerns traffic accidents involving delivery drivers could push up insurance costs. Among the examples cited: A jury in DeKalb County, Ga., awarded $11 million to a woman who suffered long-term brain damage after an incident involving a Papa John’s driver. “While this award likely will be appealed (if it hasn’t already),” Nomura told clients, “it does highlight what appears to us to be the growing risks.” The firm also downgraded Domino’s shares for the same reason (MarketWatch). Wall Street was unfazed: Papa John’s shares closed today at $67.79, up 2.3%.

BROWN-FORMAN is launching a global scavenger hunt to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its flagship Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Starting July 1 through September, the distiller will provide clues via its Facebook page to 150 hidden whiskey barrels around the world and give fans the opportunity to find and win prizes. The barrels will be hidden at airports in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Heathrow, Milan, Paris, Singapore, Los Angeles and Sydney, plus cultural and historic sites (Frontier Magazine and Travel Retail Business).

FORD and the other two big U.S. automakers collectively outperformed import brands for just the second time in 30 years in this year’s closely watched J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Still, Ford finished No. 11; Kia was No. 1 (Detroit Free Press). The automaker employs nearly 10,000 workers at its auto and truck factories in Louisville.

UPS: A Idaho woman is praising a UPS driver after he likely saved her and her sons from what could have been a deadly house fire last month (East Idaho News). UPS is Louisville’s single-biggest employer, with about 22,000 workers its Worldport hub at Louisville International Airport, the biggest fully automated package handling facility in the world.

TACO BELL: A viral video of a teenager’s arrest for allegedly brandishing a knife at a Taco Bell employee in Wisconsin has sparked protests and an internal police inquiry (The Root).

In other news, Texas Roadhouse shares closed at $46.55, up 3% — another record closing high — after setting an earlier intraday high of $46.60. And Churchill Downs shares closed at $127.60 up 63 cents as nearly two million shares changed hands — 10 times average volume. Standard & Poor’s announced the Louisville company would replace Fortune Brands Home & Security in the S&P MidCap 400 after the close of trading today (RTT News).

FAA drone rules buzz Amazon; KFC launches smartphone charging gadget, and McD paces Yum with $3B China bids

A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 4:36 p.m.

AMAZON‘s plans to use drones for delivery were slowed yesterday when the Obama Administration released new rules limiting their use, including over urban areas. The Federal Aviation Administration said commercial drones are OK so long as the drone and its payload weigh less than 55 lbs., stays within unaided sight of their pilot, and operators pass a test every two years. In addition, each drone must have its own pilot (Guardian). Also yesterday, Amazon said it’s expanding grocery delivery service to Boston (Boston Inno). The retail giant employs 6,000 employees in the Louisville area, and thousands more across the state.

KFC: In India, the fast-chicken giant has introduced its latest mobile technology to lure younger diners: Watt a Box, a 5-in-1 meal box that comes with a Chicken Zinger, two hot wings, hash browns, a chocolate pie, Pepsi and a 6,100 mAh Lithium-ion battery to charge smartphones. The device isn’t sold, but instead can be won as part of a week-long competition; watch the demo video, above (The Memo). Some customers aren’t so thrilled, however: Testers who charged an iPhone with the box said it only gained 17% battery after charging for half-an-hour, during which time the powerbank became completely drained (Eater).

Meanwhile, in an unusually public spat with an employer, Darrell Hammond — the Saturday Night Live comedian hired to play Colonel Sanders in the new KFC commercials — says the company “played” him into thinking he’d have the gig permanently. He was later replaced by another SNL veteran, Norm Macdonald, in what’s now a running joke of actor switches (Hollywood Reporter). Indeed, it’s part of the script in comedian Jim Gaffigan’s version:

Here are spots by Hammond and MacDonald, who’s none-too-pleased with the switch, either.

YUM: As Yum gears up to spin off its China operations in October, rival McDonald’s has received more than half a dozen bids for its China and Hong Kong stores, including from Beijing Tourism Group, Sanpower and ChemChina, in an auction that could fetch up to $3 billion. In March, McDonalds said it was reorganising its Asian operations by bringing in partners who would own the restaurants within a franchise business (Reuters).

BROWN-FORMAN and other developers Continue reading “FAA drone rules buzz Amazon; KFC launches smartphone charging gadget, and McD paces Yum with $3B China bids”

Churchill Downs posts new logos for 2017 Derby and Oaks

They were designed by the New York-based SME marketing agency, which has developed the official Derby and Oaks marks since 2007, according to the Paulick Report.

Derby 143 logo

And they’ve been unveiled just in time, because there are now only 319 days, 7 hours, and 21 minutes until next year’s first Saturday in May, according to Boulevard’s exclusive 2017 Derby Countdown Clock™.


Kentucky Oaks 143 logo

Churchill and ‘The Greatest’ met in ’63; B-F results tomorrow have EPS up, but revs down; and Papa’s pan pizzas are back

Ali at Churchill Downs
Ali training at Churchill Downs in 1963 in recently surfaced photo.

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 3:32 p.m.

BROWN-FORMAN reports fiscal fourth-quarter results tomorrow by 8 a.m. Analysts expect earnings per share of 72 cents vs. 66 cents a year ago, on $899 million in revenue vs. $947 million. There will be a conference call with management and analysts at 10 a.m.; details. Also, Newsweek magazine ranked the company the “greenest” beverage alcohol company among U.S. publicly traded firms (press release).

CHURCHILL DOWNS: Muhammad Ali is seen on a training run at Louisville’s iconic race track in a 1963 photograph that has just surfaced. It’s one of thousands photographer Curt Gunther took of the Louisville native during the years he accompanied the prize fighter in and out of the ring (CNN). Ali died late Friday in Phoenix at 74 after battling Parkinson’s disease for decades. The funeral he planned for himself in secret this Friday may be without precedent in recent Louisville history.

KFC: Chick-fil-A’s skip-the-line ordering app is no longer No. 1 in Apple’s App store, but it’s still holding a respectable No. 3 — enough to continue embarrassing rival KFC, which launched its own app the same day. More than 1 million people have downloaded Chick’s One app since it was announced last Wednesday. How they pulled it off (The Atlantic). In France, KFC says a video purporting to show a customer finding a whole, cooked chick in a bucket meal is a hoax; video of the alleged incident has been widely shared across social media (Express).

PAPA JOHN’S is offering pan pizza for the first time since 2005 in select markets, including parts of Kentucky; Evansville, Ind., and Denver (Courier-Journal). In Winston-Salem, N.C., an armed man robbed a Papa John’s Sunday at 3:40 p.m. after forcing an employee to open the cash registers. The man, said to be in his 30s, left after ordering the employee and two other workers to the back of the store (Winston-Salem Journal).

PIZZA HUT: A restaurant in Huron, S.D., was destroyed in a fire early Saturday morning the appeared to have started in the kitchen area (Plainsman). In New Zealand’s North Island, as many as three men armed with a machete robbed a Pizza Hut of $298 U.S. at 11 p.m. yesterday, leaving two employees shaken but unharmed. Police said the men were “heavily disguised” with balaclavas and one wore a hi-visibility vest during the incident in Palmerston North (News Hub).

In other news, U.S. stocks were mostly flat after government data showed first-quarter business productivity fell (Google Finance). The 11 big employers in the Boulevard Stock Portfolio were mixed; Ford was up 1.8% to $13.41 less than 30 minutes before the closing bell.

New $13B Aetna bonds prime Humana buy; 再见, GE!: $5.4B deal may close Monday; PepsiCo CEO in Yum spinoff dies at 71

Appliance Park aerial
An aerial view of the mammoth GE Appliance complex.

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 9:52 a.m.

HUMANA: Aetna sold $13 billion of new bonds yesterday to pay for its $34 billion purchase of Humana, the latest sign of growing confidence anti-trust regulators will OK the deal. Shares of both insurance giants jumped on the news, narrowing the discount at which Humana trades to the original $230 cash-and-stock offer price. That gap, around 17% at yesterday’s close, is the smallest since early April (Wall Street Journal). Humana’s stock surged 5.5% to $187.23; Aetna, up 4% to $120.05. Aetna’s CEO said recently that he expects the deal announced last July will close in the year’s second half. Humana employs about 12,500 workers in Louisville, part of its nationwide workforce of 50,000; that figure would double under the Aetna deal. More about Humana’s history.

GE: Haier Co. is expected to close on its $5.4 billion purchase of the iconic 50-year-old Appliance Park as soon as Monday. That would “sever Louisville’s half-century ties to General Electric,” The Courier Journal says, “and turn over ownership of one of the community’s flagship employers to a major Chinese appliance and consumer electronics maker” (Courier-Journal). The complex employs 6,000 making dishwashers and other home appliances. Still, GE is advertising jobs there starting at $15.51 and hour, or $32,000 a year (company website).

(Here’s how Google translates our GE news summary in simplified Chinese: 海尔股份有限公司有望尽快结束其$5.4十亿收购标志性的50岁的家电园区,截至周一。这将“切断路易斯维尔半个世纪关系到通用电气,”信使杂志说,“和社会各界的旗舰雇主之一的所有权移交给大中国家电和消费电子制造商”(信使报)。复杂的员工6000人。 GE尚广告工作开始出现在$15.51和时间,或每年$32,000.” Our headline should say: Goodbye, GE!)

Watch an inside tour of Appliance Park:

Roger Enrico

YUM: Retired PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico, who spun off the company’s restaurant division into what is now Yum Brands, died suddenly Wednesday while on vacation with his family in the Cayman Islands. The cause of his death wasn’t immediately known. He was 71 (The Drum). CEO from 1996-2001, Enrico was known for turning Pepsi-Cola into a pop-culture leader with groundbreaking sponsorships with Michael Jackson and Madonna in the “Choice of a New Generation” campaign (The Wall Street Journal and AdAge). Watch one of the Jackson commercials. Yum’s history in Louisville started with KFC founder Harland Sanders.

AMAZON: About 40 bike messengers employed by Amazon contractor Fleetfoot Messenger Service have been laid off, effective today, as the company rethinks the way it makes quick deliveries in its corporate hometown of Seattle. The messengers carried packages and groceries for Amazon Prime Now, a popular one- to two-hour service seen as one of Amazon’s big bets to beat brick-and-mortar retailing (Seattle Times). Geekwire said the number laid off was closer to 60, and quoted one saying: “A lot of people, including myself, are thinking, ‘Why are we going to stick around and bust our ass and put our lives on our line when they don’t give a shit?’ They just cut our jobs. A lot of us just walked out” (GeekWire). Expectations were high for the couriers — with heavier-than-normal loads, fast delivery times, careful tracking, and demands for near-perfect execution (GeekWire, earlier). Elsewhere in Amazonia, the company blows away all competitors in time spent on their mobile websites by a long shot; mobile visitors spent an average 103 minutes on Amazon vs. Target’s 20 minutes and Walmart’s 14 (Business Insider).

BROWN-FORMAN: Billy Walker, who sold the BenRiach Distillery Co. scotch whiskey business to Brown-Forman for $405 million million, has been named entrepreneur of the year in the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards; the deal closed Wednesday (Herald Scotland).

CHURCHILL DOWNS: Hosting a party at the iconic racetrack runs from casual to a formal sit-down meal surrounded by historic racing décor (press release via Insider Louisville).

In other news, U.S. employers added only 38,000 workers in May, a significant slowdown in hiring that could push back a decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates (New York Times). Wall Street wasn’t keen on the report; all major stock indices retreated (Google Finance) and the 11 big employers in Boulevard’s Stock Portfolio all tumbled.

Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali
Ali last year.

Finally, Louisville native and humanitarian Muhammad Ali has been hospitalized again and is being treated for a respiratory issue in Phoenix, where he lives. Ali, 74, has been battling Parkinson’s disease for years. The Associated Press said last night that his condition may be more serious than in his previous hospital stays (ESPN). His $80 million Muhammad Ali Center opened in downtown Louisville in 2005.

We like to remember him for his stunning Sonny Liston knockout punch after 104 seconds on May 25, 1965:
Embed from Getty Images

Ford recalls 271,000 F-150s from 2013-14; UPS boosts size of planned expansion; Missouri regulators to Humana: show me changes

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 9:16 p.m.

2014 Ford F-150
A model year 2014 F-150 of the kind being recalled.
William Clay Ford, Jr.

FORD is recalling about 271,000 2013-14 F-150 pickups with 3.5-liter V-6 engines because the brakes may malfunction, the automaker said today. The company said it was aware of nine accidents but no injuries (New York Times). Also, Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. defended the automaker against blistering criticism by White House candidate Donald Trump, saying it should be held up as an example of a company doing things right. Trump has called Ford’s decision to build a $1.6 billion assembly plant in Mexico an “absolute disgrace” that would not happen if he becomes president (Detroit News).

In December, Ford said it would invest $1.3 billion in its Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, creating 2,000 jobs. The expansion is for the launch of the new 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty truck (press release). More about Ford’s Louisville factories. Also, Ford said today it will release its May U.S. sales figures around 9:15 a.m. June 1, followed by a conference call to discuss the results (press release).

UPS is doubling the size of an expansion announced last fall that was already going to add another 300 jobs to the so-called Centennial Hub; it’s unclear whether the bigger project will require even more hiring  (Courier-Journal). UPS originally announced the project last October, saying it would cost $300 million and would be substantially complete by 2018 (press release).

HUMANA: Missouri’s insurance regulators are asking Humana and Aenta to make changes before the state approves their pending $34 billion merger announced July 3 (Business First).

KINDRED‘s shareholders approved the executive compensation plan during a non-binding advisory vote today at their annual meeting. They also re-elected the full slate of 11 directors to the governing board; the company didn’t provide a vote breakdown, which will likely come in a future regulatory filing (press release).

CHURCHILL DOWNS broke ground yesterday on a previously announced $25 million expansion of its Oxford Casino in Maine. The project includes a 106-room hotel, new dining, and an expanded gaming area. Churchill bought the casino in 2013 (WLBZ).

AMAZON said today it would open a second distribution center in Joliet, Ill., 46 miles southwest of Chicago. The company will create more than 2,000 full-time jobs at the facility in addition to the 1,500 full-time employees currently working at its existing Joliet center (press release). The city has 148,000 residents; more census facts. Also, the company plans to expand its Fresh grocery delivery service this year to new markets including Boston (Recode). More about Amazon’s Louisville area operations.

The Eagle logoIn other news, Bardstown Road is getting another craft beer restaurant: The Eagle, which has locations in Cincinnati and Indianapolis. It’s taking the space now occupied by El Camino, which is moving to another, undisclosed location two miles away and with half the current 300 seats (Insider Louisville). The Eagle will join the soon-to-open HopCat at Grinstead and Bardstown, which will have 130 craft beers and seating for 600. Also in the works: Sterling Brewing has announced plans for a restaurant at 1300 Bardstown Road (Courier-Journal). And there are already so many more.

Elsewhere in hospitality land, the average Louisville hotel room rate will jump 13.9 percent to $119.35 by 2020, according to a new report (Insider Louisville).

Finally, U.S. stocks soared for the second consecutive day after positive economic data, rising oil prices, and a new debt deal for Greece. The Dow Jones Industrial average and other major indices all closed up nearly 1% after similar gains yesterday (Google Finance). Nearly all 11 big-employer shares in the Boulevard Stock Portfolio rose, too.