Brokerage firms debate value of Certified Financial Planner title

NEW YORK, Mon Jun 3, 2013 — Some of Wall Street’s biggest brokerage firms are at odds over the bottom-line returns of a three-letter credential they are vigorously promoting to their brokers.
The CFP (for certified financial planner) title is conferred by the nonprofit Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which touts it as “the standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning.”
The insignia has become a popular addition to brokers’ business cards since clients were traumatized by the market collapse of 2008. With consumer faith in brokers’ investment skills shaken – and commissions for simple buy and sell orders slipping – brokers are positioning themselves as trusted advisers that help clients meet goals ranging from saving for college to estate planning.
Yet while some firms are pushing their brokers to earn the CFP credential as a way of attracting clients and profits, others say the bottom line benefits have not been proven.
Over the last five years, the number of CFP holders has grown 23 percent to 68,0000, about half of whom work at the 50 largest financial services firms, said Joe Maugeri, director of firm relations at the CFP Board. Firms pushing advisers to get the license range Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch to Charles Schwab Corp., which traditionally offered little direct advice to clients.
Even firms that disdain working with people with less than $250,000 to invest are pitching to wealthier clients with the kind of college-and-retirement planning talk traditionally aimed at the less well-to-do by insurance sales people.

2013 Excellence in Business Awards honor four Akron-area enterprises

Don Colantone, president, Greater Akron Chamber

Dan Colantone, President and CEO, Greater Akron Chamber

The Greater Akron Chamber is proud to honor four local businesses with the 2013 Excellence in Business Award.  The purpose of this prestigious award is to honor companies who have demonstrated outstanding performance, growth, staying power, innovation and leadership in our community.


This year, we are proud to add the Emerging Business Award.  This award honors a company that exemplifies the ideals of the Excellence in Business Award and has been in business for five years or less.

In 1982 the Greater Akron Chamber’s Small Business Council created these awards to recognize outstanding businesses in our region. The Small Business Council promotes and represents the interests of businesses with 250 or fewer employees within Medina, Portage and Summit counties. The members of the SBC provide oversight and strategic counsel relative to the recognition event, affinity programs, membership and advocacy work led by the Greater Akron Chamber in support of the Chamber’s mission to drive economic development and prosperity for the people of the Greater Akron region.

We would like to thank the following sponsors for their commitment and leadership to the 2013 Excellence in Business Awards: Apple Growth Partners, Day Ketterer, Westfield Bank, Smart Business and Rubber City Radio.

On behalf of the Greater Akron Chamber, Small Business Council and our sponsors, we hope you enjoy reading about these exceptional companies and their business accomplishments.  Congratulations to the 2013 Excellence in Business Award recipients.



Dan Colantone, CCE
President and CEO
Greater Akron Chamber

Emerging Business Award
Christy Creative                    

Excellence in Business Award
Gavin Scott Salon & Spa

Excellence in Business Award

Excellence in Business Award


Bain, Advent cancel sale of WorldPay’s U.S. unit

NEW YORK, Fri May 31, 2013 — WorldPay’s private equity owners, Bain Capital LLC and Advent International Corp, have canceled the auction of the payment processing firm’s U.S. unit, WorldPay told Reuters on Friday.
No potential buyer was willing to meet Bain’s and Advent’s price expectations of $800 million to $1 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.
The buyout firms bought 80 percent of WorldPay from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in 2010 for about 2 billion pounds ($3 billion) and were looking to sell WorldPay’s U.S. assets to pay themselves a dividend and pay off debt.
Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, CVC Capital Partners Ltd. CVC.UL and Thoma Bravo LLC were among the private equity firms in discussions with WorldPay about a deal, the sources said.
Thomas H. Lee explored a partnership with iPayment, a New-York-based company that provides credit and debit card payment processing services to small businesses, in order to acquire WorldPay U.S., said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because details of the auction are confidential.
WorldPay U.S. has earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of between $90 and $130 million, depending on how its business is accounted for, making its valuation contentious, the sources said.
“Following a strategic review of WorldPay U.S., we have concluded that the growth potential and value of the business will be maximized by remaining part of WorldPay Group,” WorldPay spokesman Simon Kutner told Reuters in an email on Friday. He declined to comment on details of the auction.
Bain, Advent, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Thoma Bravo and CVC declined to comment. An iPayment official did not respond to a request for comment.


China’s appetite for pork spurs $4.7 billion Smithfield buy

NEW YORK, Thu May 30, 2013 — Shuanghui International Holdings is buying Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s biggest hog producer, for $4.7 billion to feed a growing Chinese appetite for U.S. pork, in a deal that has stirred concern among U.S. politicians.
Announced on Wednesday, the takeover would be China’s biggest of a U.S. company, with an enterprise value of $7.1 billion, including debt, and follows a call by Smithfield’s largest shareholder, Continental Grain Co, to break up the company. Continental could not be reached for comment on Shuanghui’s proposal.
The deal highlights China’s growing appetite for protein-rich food, particularly pork, as its middle class expands, making China more reliant on foreign producers.
“I think this is a move by China to make sure their population is going to get fed in a cheaper manner. It’s the right move for them,” said Brian Bradshaw, a pig producer with operations in Illinois and Indiana, who has sold hogs to Smithfield. “Time will tell whether it’s the right move for the rest of the pork industry.”
The deal will face scrutiny by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government panel that assesses national security risks. At least one member of Congress said the deal raised alarms about food safety, noting Shuanghui was forced to recall tainted pork in the past.
“I have deep doubts about whether this merger best serves American consumers, and urge federal regulators to put their concerns first,” U.S. Representative Rose DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut, said in a statement.

Apple CEO sees more ‘gamechangers’; hints at wearable devices

SAN FRANCISCO, Wed May 29, 2013 — Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook defended the company’s record of innovation under his stewardship, saying he expected it would release “several more game changers” and hinting that wearable computers could be among them.
“It’s an area where it’s ripe for exploration,” Cook said on Tuesday at the All Things Digital conference, an annual gathering of technology and media executives in the California coastal resort town of Rancho Palos Verdes.
“It’s ripe for us all getting excited about. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this.”
His remarks come at a time when worries are mounting that the company which created the smartphone and tablet markets is ceding ground to competitors such as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Google Inc., with a slowdown in earnings growth hitting its share price.
Cook stopped short of clarifying if Apple was working on wearable products amid speculation that it is developing a smartwatch, saying only that wearable computers had to be compelling.
He added that Google’s Glass — a cross between a mobile computer and eyeglasses that can both record video and access the Internet — is likely to have only limited appeal.
“There’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid who has never worn glasses or a band or a watch to wear one, or at least I haven’t seen it,” he said in the near one-and-a-half-hour question and answer session.
“So I think there’s lots of things to solve in this space.”

P&G CEO switch will not lead to big strategy change: CFO

CINCINNATI, Fri May 24, 2013 — Procter & Gamble Co. said on Friday the surprise return of A.G. Lafley as chairman and chief executive was not an indication of any bigger problems at the world’s largest consumer products maker.

Lafley replaces Bob McDonald, effective immediately, at P&G, which is in the midst of a major restructuring.
“This change very simply reflects Bob McDonald’s decision to retire and the board’s view that A.G. Lafley was currently the best person to replace Bob and build on the momentum that Bob has initiated and led,” Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said on a very brief conference call for analysts on Friday morning.
The CFO said there would not be any dramatic change in strategy due to the switch in CEOs.
The announcement late Thursday was “not indicative of any kind of bigger problem or financial issue,” he said.
Shares of P&G rose to $81.90 in premarket trading after closing at $78.70 on Thursday, before the decision was announced. P&G, the maker of Tide detergent and Gillette razors, did not give a specific reason for McDonald’s departure other than to say that he is retiring. McDonald is 59 and Lafley is 65.
Moeller was the only speaker on the call and he did not take questions from analysts.
He said P&G, which maintained its financial guidance as it made Thursday’s announcement, will continue to focus on maintaining its momentum in developing markets and strengthening its core developed market business, and that the company continues to be “optimistic.”


HP raises 2013 outlook as Whitman’s plan takes hold

SAN FRANCISCO, Thu May 23, 2013 — Hewlett-Packard Co. raised its 2013 earnings outlook after quarterly results beat low expectations, as CEO Meg Whitman’s turnaround plan helped offset shrinking personal computer sales with enterprise computing services.
While fiscal second-quarter profit plummeted 32 percent, Wall Street had braced for worse. HP shares gained 14 percent after the company projected full-year earnings per share of $3.50 to $3.60, raising the lower end by 10 cents, and fiscal third-quarter profit that topped analyst estimates.
Whitman, who took the helm at the world’s largest PC maker more than a year ago, is orchestrating a turnaround, trying to recapture some of the Silicon Valley icon’s former strong growth. She has said the process could take years.
HP received a warmer welcome from investors for its results than smaller rival Dell Inc, which last week reported a 79 percent slide in profit and is now mired in a takeover battle between founder Michael Dell and activist investor Carl Icahn.
“This is another good deposit on the road to our turnaround here,” HP Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said in an interview. “We are roughly where we want to be in total on the company.”
Enterprise services and printing units are “probably a little bit ahead,” she said, adding the two businesses helped drive the company’s gross margin improvement during the quarter.

Lowe’s results miss estimates, underperforming Home Depot

MOORESVILLE, N.C., Wed May 22, 2013 — Lowe’s Cos. Inc. reported a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, hurt by colder-than-usual weather at the start of the spring selling season and strong competition from larger rival Home Depot Inc. 
The results contrasted sharply with those of Home Depot and signaled that Lowe’s, the world’s No. 2 home improvement chain, was still struggling to narrow the performance gap with the industry leader.
Lowe’s sales fell 0.5 percent to $13.09 billion in the first quarter ended on May 3, missing the analysts’ average estimate of $13.45 billion. The company’s shares fell 3.3 percent to $42.45 in trading before the market opened.
Sales at stores open at least a year dipped 0.7 percent. It was the 16th straight quarter that Lowe’s posted weaker same-store sales than Home Depot.
“The spread between Home Depot and Lowe’s (same-store sales) expanded in the first quarter, something we had worried might happen,” said Janney Capital Markets analyst David Strasser.
Lowe’s stocked more lawn and garden products than Home Depot and therefore suffered more from the unfavorable weather, Strasser said. At the same time, he said, Home Depot had more of a presence in California, where housing has made a strong comeback.
While Lowe’s has been working to improve product selection and customer service, it has yet to turn around its business.
As part of its makeover, the company has started offering everyday low prices and products targeted to specific geographic markets. It made its stores more appealing with improved signs, television displays that stream videos on how-to-do projects, and lower racks to make items easier to reach.
Lowe’s has also increased its assortment of products available online and started, a site that allows shoppers to save their room dimensions, create a shopping list and set reminders to buy items such as air filters and batteries for smoke alarms.
Lowe’s, which was also slower than Home Depot to cut costs in the years after the housing collapse, said its first-quarter net earnings rose to $540 million, or 49 cents a share, from $527 million, or 43 cents a share, a year earlier.

Housing recovery boosts Home Depot results; outlook raised

ATLANTA,Tue May 21, 2013 — Home Depot Inc. reported higher-than-expected quarterly results and raised its sales and profit outlook for the year as the world’s largest home improvement chain benefited from a nascent recovery in the U.S. housing market.

The news on Tuesday boosted Home Depot shares by 3.9 percent to $79.75 in premarket trading.

A bubble in the U.S. housing market was at the core of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. During the downturn, Home Depot’s sales at established stores fell more than 20 percent in such markets as Florida and California. In recent quarters, the company has gotten a boost as housing markets have rebounded in regions where it has a heavy presence.

“In the first quarter, we saw less favorable weather compared to last year, but we continue to see benefit from a recovering housing market that drove a stronger-than-expected start to the year for our business,” Chief Executive Officer Frank Blake said.

Despite cooler-than-usual weather in many parts of the United States at the start of the spring selling season, Home Depot’s sales rose 7.4 percent to $19.12 billion in the first quarter ended on May 5. That topped the analysts’ average estimate of $18.68 billion.

Better pricing and customer service have helped Home Depot take market share from smaller rival Lowe’s Cos. The industry leader has also gained from tailoring its marketing to local areas, centralizing distribution centers and shifting more workers to jobs where they serve customers directly.

Sales at Home Depot stores open at least a year rose 4.3 percent, including a 4.8 percent increase in the United States. Many on Wall Street expect same-store sales from Lowe’s to be weaker than those from Home Depot for the 16th straight quarter when the smaller chain reports results on Wednesday.

Under Blake, Home Depot was also quicker than Lowe’s to cut costs in the years after the housing collapse.

Net income in the first quarter rose to $1.2 billion, or 83 cents a share, from $1 billion, or 68 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts on average had forecast a profit of 77 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For the year, the company now expects earnings of $3.52 a share, up from its prior outlook of $3.37. It forecast a sales increase of about 2.8 percent, up from previous expectations of a 2 percent rise.

Actavis to buy Warner Chilcott in $8.5 billion stock deal

PARSIPPANY, N.J., Mon May 20, 2013 — Generic drugmaker Actavis Inc., which has been the subject of intense takeover speculation, said on Monday that it had struck a deal to buy specialty pharmaceuticals company Warner Chilcott Plc for $8.5 billion in stock.
The move comes as Actavis has spurned approaches from Canadian pharmaceutical company Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and Mylan Inc. Analysts have said that if Actavis were to buy Warner Chilcott, it would kill the chances of its being taken over.
Warner Chilcott shareholders will receive 0.16 share of the combined company. The companies said that would equate to $20.08 per share, based on Actavis’ closing share price of $125.50 on Friday.
The purchase price is a 34 percent premium to Warner Chilcott’s closing share price of $15.01 on May 9, the day before the companies disclosed that they were in talks. Warner Chilcott shares have since risen and closed on Friday at $19.19, narrowing the premium to less than 5 percent.
Shares of Warner Chilcott were up 2.6 percent at $19.70 in trading before the market opened, while Actavis rose 2 percent to $128.
Warner Chilcott brings a portfolio of branded women’s health pharmaceuticals such as the contraceptive patch to Actavis, which makes and sells generic version of drugs that are no longer protected by patents. Because Warner Chilcott is based in Ireland, the deal creates a money-saving lower tax rate for Actavis, analysts have said. The combined company would have $11 billion in sales.