Tickers: Oct. 28
The U.S. Small Business Administration approved 741 loans to small businesses in Iowa in the 2008 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, compared with 822 in the prior year. However, the total loan amount increased to $188.8 million from $182.5 million in fiscal 2007. Eighty loans totaling $26.7 million were made to minority small businesses, compared with 89 loans worth $22.5 million in 2007. Polk County businesses had the most loans, with 156 loans totaling $46.4 million.
Professional Solutions Insurance Services, a subsidiary of NCMIC Group Inc., has acquired West Des Moines-based Agency Marketing Group (AMG), formerly known as Mutual Med P&C Insurance Services. The acquisition is part of Professional Solutions’ planned growth in the retail and wholesale insurance markets, with AMG focused on selling wholesale insurance products to other agencies in Iowa and surrounding states. Three people have joined Professional Solutions to lead its new sales efforts in the wholesale market: Gary Arneson as business development manager, Syd Arneson as wholesale market manager and Linda Hegland as a customer service representative.
Greater Des Moines hosted 2.7 million visitors who spent $1.6 billion in Polk and Dallas counties last year, according to the Economic Impact of Travel Study released by the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s Iowa Tourism Office. This is about one-fourth of Iowa’s $6.3 billion in travel expenditures and is up 7.3 percent from 2006. Travel expenditures were boosted by Iowa caucus coverage from October through December 2007.
The Upper Midwest chapter of the National Television Academy has awarded WHO-TV an Emmy for its Channel 13 News investigation piece “What Lies Beneath.” It was the only Iowa Emmy in the investigation category presented Saturday in Minneapolis. The 2007 story featured a Marion County resident who bought an acreage that turned out to be on Knoxville’s old city landfill. Anchor/reporter Dan Winters wrote the story and photojournalists Randy Schumacher and Jeff Felton photographed and edited it.
Daily newspaper circulation fell 4.6 percent among all 507 papers that reported circulation totals this year and last to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the Associated Press reported. The average circulation in the six months ended in September was 38,165,848, compared with 40,022,356 in the year-ago period. Sunday circulation declined 4.8 percent to 43,631,646 among 571 papers with comparable totals. This is a steeper decline than in the past, as more readers move to the Internet and papers narrow their distribution and raise prices to cover a loss in advertising revenues. Among the largest 25 papers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s circulation fell 13.6 percent, the biggest drop. Gannett Co. Inc.’s USA Today is still the top seller, with circulation up by 173 subscribers; The Wall Street Journal is up 117 copies. Meanwhile, traffic on newspaper Web sites jumped 16 percent in the third quarter, compared with the year-ago period, to an average of more than 68 million monthly unique visitors.
General Growth Properties Inc. has pushed back its third-quarter earnings release and conference call to Nov. 5 to give the company additional time to prepare. Earnings will be released before U.S. markets open and a live webcast of its earnings conference call will take place at 8 a.m. Iowa time. For more information, go to www.ggp.com.
Dubuque-based Heartland Financial USA Inc.’s third-quarter net income was $3 million, or 18 cents per share, compared with $6.9 million, or 42 cents per share, a year ago. The company was affected by an increase in loan loss provisions to $7.1 million from $575,000 a year ago and had a pre-tax impairment loss on Fannie Mae preferred stock of $4.6 million. Meanwhile, it has a pre-tax gain of $5.2 million from the sale of its merchant credit card processing operations. “We are operating in a truly unprecedented financial environment,” said Lynn Fuller, chairman, president and CEO of Heartland, in a release. “Despite the impact of an increased loan loss provision and impairment loss on Fannie Mae preferred stock in the third quarter, Heartland continues to be profitable. To that point, our two largest banks are having their best years on record. Overall, the company is experiencing positive trends in net interest margin, deposit growth, capital and liquidity.” For the complete report and replay of yesterday’s conference call, go to www.htlf.com.
Meta Financial Group Inc. has declared a cash dividend of 13 cents per share, payable on or about Dec. 30 to shareholders of record Dec. 15.
Keefe Bruyette & Woods Inc. has upgraded EMC Insurance Group Inc. to “market perform” from “underperform.”