Dec 19 2014

FCC OKs Scripps takeover of Journal Communications TV, radio stations

The EW Scripps Company cleared a key regulatory hurdle for taking control of Journal Communications Inc.s television and radio stations including WTMJ-TV and WTMJ-AM (620) in Milwaukee, as the Federal Communications Commission authorized a transfer of control of the station licenses, the companies announced Friday.

Scripps will retain its corporate headquarters in Cincinnati, while the Journal Broadcast Group headquarters in Milwaukee will cease to exist.

Scripps now owns 21 local television stations and will add 14 TV stations that Journal owns and operates or provides services to and 35 radio stations.

Once the transaction closes, the merged broadcast and digital media company will retain the EW Scripps name, and the Scripps family shareholders will continue to hold voting control.

Aside from the broadcast deal, Scripps and Journal Communications will spin off their newspapers into a new company, Journal Media Group, that will be headquartered in Milwaukee. It will consist of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and 13 Scripps daily newspapers.

Scripps and Journal announced the transaction in July and it is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

Senior Reporter Rich Kirchen covers health care, sports business, politics and media/advertising for the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Dec 18 2014

Arkansas State Police Investigation Requested After Lonoke County Audit

Clarke noted that each office is required to conduct an annual equipment inventory and purchases made on a private credit cards will not be reimbursed without prior authorization from the county judge.

Dec 18 2014

Water-Logged And Getting Wetter: Frontier Communications (FTR)

Editors Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

Trade-Ideas LLC identified
Frontier Communications (
FTR) as a water-logged and getting wetter (weak stocks crossing below support with todays range greater than 200%) candidate. In addition to specific proprietary factors, Trade-Ideas identified Frontier Communications as such a stock due to the following factors:

  • FTR has an average dollar-volume (as measured by average daily share volume multiplied by share price) of $56.3 million.
  • FTR has traded 5.8 million shares today.
  • FTR traded in a range 219.6% of the normal price range with a price range of $0.40.
  • FTR traded below its daily resistance level (quality: 37 days, meaning that the stock is crossing a resistance level set by the last 37 calendar days. The resistance price is defined by the Price – $0.01 at the time of the signal).

Stocks matching the Water-Logged and Getting Wetter criteria are worthwhile stocks to watch for a variety of factors including historical back testing and volatility. Trade-Ideas targets these opportunities because the stock is exhibiting an unusual behavior while displaying negative price action. In this case, the stock crossed an important inflection point; namely, support while at the same time the range of the stocks movement in price is twice its normal size. This large range foreshadows a possible continuation as the stock moves lower.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Get the inside scoop on opportunities in FTR with the Ticky from Trade-Ideas. See the FREE profile for FTR NOW at Trade-Ideas

More details on FTR:

Frontier Communications Corporation, a communications company, provides regulated and unregulated voice, data, and video services to residential, business, and wholesale customers in the United States. The stock currently has a dividend yield of 6.1%. FTR has a PE ratio of 34.7. Currently there are 2 analysts that rate Frontier Communications a buy, 3 analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

The average volume for Frontier Communications has been 8.2 million shares per day over the past 30 days. Frontier has a market cap of $6.6 billion and is part of the technology sector and telecommunications industry. The stock has a beta of 0.54 and a short float of 15.4% with 17.03 days to cover. Shares are up 41.9% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

TheStreetRatings.com Analysis:

TheStreet Quant Ratings rates Frontier Communications as a
buy. The companys strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, solid stock price performance, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the Samp;P 500 and the Diversified Telecommunication Services industry average. The net income increased by 18.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $35.40 million to $41.99 million.
  • Compared to its closing price of one year ago, FTRs share price has jumped by 48.92%, exceeding the performance of the broader market during that same time frame. We feel that the stocks sharp appreciation over the last year has driven it to a price level which is now somewhat expensive compared to the rest of its industry. The other strengths this company shows, however, justify the higher price levels.
  • 43.79% is the gross profit margin for FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP which we consider to be strong. Regardless of FTRs high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 3.68% trails the industry average.
  • FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP reported flat earnings per share in the most recent quarter. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS CORP reported lower earnings of $0.12 versus $0.14 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.20 versus $0.12).
  • FTR, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 0.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.7%. Weakness in the companys revenue seems to not be hurting the bottom line, shown by stable earnings per share.
  • You can view the full Frontier Communications Ratings Report.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Dec 17 2014

Gov. Haley changing communications staff

Gov. Nikki Haleys office announced a shakeup in its communications operations Thursday, adding three members from her campaign staff.

Rob Godfrey, the governors former spokesman and deputy campaign manager, will re-join Haleys office as deputy chief of staff for communications and external affairs. He joined the governor on a 10-day trade mission to India last month.

Chaney Adams, who was Haleys campaign spokeswoman, will become the governors press secretary. The governors office did not release details about the role of current communications director Doug Mayer.

Zach Pippin, who was paid by the Haley campaign to shoot videos, will move to the governors office as director of digital media. Democrats complained about Pippin flying on the state plane in 2013, but the SC Ethics Commission found no violations.

The changes take effect Monday.

Dec 17 2014

Government offers 3 percent loans to lure first-time homebuyers

The announcement Monday by the two government-sponsored agencies sparked concern in some quarters that lowering the credit bar might lead to another housing bubble.

In response, Melvin L. Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie, called the programs a responsible approach that will ensure safe and sound lending practices.

Historically, 40 percent of mortgages were underwritten by Fannie and Freddie, but as private credit contracted during the housing downturn and the recession deepened in 2008, the government stepped in, said Philadelphia economist Kevin Gillen.

In the depths of the downturn, about 97 percent of mortgages were issued by Fannie and Freddie, he said. Its only down to 80 percent, so there are long-term risks, Gillen added.

The short-term impact should undoubtedly be positive, he said, and help underserved households get back in the game.

Realtors are welcoming the programs.

Since first-time buyers usually dont have much cash for a down payment, it will open up the market, said Nicole Ritchie, of BHHS Fox amp; Roach Realtors in Media.

Matt Donnelly, of Coldwell Banker Preferred, who sells in Manayunk, said it will be huge for first-time, low- and moderate-income buyers, whose purchases were down a bit this quarter.

Because an FHA loan and its higher insurance wont be the only option, these buyers could save hundreds of dollars a month in their mortgage payment, Donnelly said.

Robert Acuff, of Re/Max Services in Blue Bell, said it should create interest among first-time buyers sitting on the fence, especially with interest rates so low, he said.

While welcoming the lower down payment, Patricia Settar, of BHHS Fox amp; Roach in Mullica Hill, said student-loan debt, with payments as high as $1,000 a month, are as much a deterrent to first-timers.

If they could refinance that debt to 3 percent, that would be a big help, she said.

aheavens@phillynews.com

215-854-2472

@alheavens

Dec 16 2014

Statewide FairPoint Internet outages alleviated

A FairPoint Communications Internet outage for Vermont customers statewide has been alleviated, according to a company spokesman.

Jeff Nevins said he first heard of the outage, which was caused by a hardware issue, at 12:30 am on Thursday, and the company has been working ever since to find a solution.

“Some of our people were doing routine maintenance, and the problem caused an Internet outage for customers across Vermont and in parts of New Hampshire,” Nevins said. “We’ve developed a temporary solution to the problem for now, and we are rerouting Internet traffic.”

Nevins said if customers’ modems have not rebooted themselves as of early Thursday afternoon, then customers should manually reboot their modems. This will allow service to reconnect, he said.

Nevins said the issues had nothing to do with snowfall received in Vermont on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It was some work that was being done inside,” Nevins said. “It was just an unfortunate situation.”

The company first alerted members of the media about the issue shortly after 9:30 am via a news release. The company issued an update at about 12:10 pm once the temporary solution had been reached.

Nevins said the company could not determine exactly how many customers had been affected on Thursday as some customers may not have noticed the disruption.

“Now with the temporary solution we have in place, customers should not see any issues with their Internet,” Nevins said. “We’ll go about fixing the hardware, and that should not be visible to the customer at all.”

Later on Thursday, the Colchester Police Department said it was experiencing issues with the copper telephone lines it received from FairPoint. The former primary line of 655-1412 was experiencing difficulties at about 4:20 pm, the department said. FairPoint was aware of the problem and was working to fix it, police said.

Those who need to reach the Colchester Police Department in the meantime can call 264-5555 or dial 911 for an emergency.

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 651-4835 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LizMurraySMC.

Dec 16 2014

JCP&L, Success Communications making Morris County business news

JCPamp;L hands out grants to schools

MORRISTOWN: Morris County educators have received six Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Grants from FirstEnergy Corp.

The grants are awarded each year to educators and youth group leaders located in communities served by FirstEnergy’s 10 electric operating companies, including Jersey Central Power amp; Light (JCPamp;L), and in communities where the company has facilities or does business.

STEM Grants ranging from $405 to $500 were awarded to: Ralph Argondizzo, White Rock Elementary School, Oak Ridge; Brianna Cubby, Mountain View Middle School, Mendham; Denise Magrini and Paul Damato, Mountain View Middle School, Mendham; Jennifer McDermott, East Hanover Middle School, East Hanover; Kyle ONeill, Whippany Park High School, Whippany; and Julie Crawford, Mount Arlington School, Mount Arlington.

“JCPamp;L’s annual educational grant program supports innovative classroom learning and increases interests in the STEM fields of study,” said Elaine Vincent, manager, Community Involvement for FirstEnergy. “We’re pleased to help Morris County’s educators implement programs that enrich student learning.”

This year, JCPamp;L presented a record 26 STEM grants totaling nearly $12,000 to New Jersey educators. For more information on the program and how to apply for future opportunities, please visit www.firstenergycorp.com/STEM.

Two complete internships with Success

PARSIPPANY: Sarah DeGeorge and Anne Comba recently completed a fall internship with Success Communications Group, a communications firm based in Parsippany.

DeGeorge, a senior at Centenary College, in Hackettstown, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations, and print journalism. DeGeorge is a writer for Centenary College’s school newspaper “The Quill.”

Comba a senior at Monmouth University, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations, and a minor in journalism. Comba is an active member of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA).

Since January 2003, more than 180 college students from 47 different colleges and universities have participated in Success Communications Group’s continuing public relations internship program.

Dec 15 2014

Attorney General Won’t Force New York Times Reporter to Reveal Source

Attorney General Eric Holder has decided against forcing a reporter for the New York Times to reveal the identity of a confidential source, according to a senior Justice Department official.

The reporter, James Risen, has been battling for years to stop prosecutors from forcing him to name his source for a book that revealed a CIA effort to sabotage Irans nuclear weapons program.

The government wanted Risens testimony in the trial of a former CIA official, Jeffrey Sterling, accused of leaking classified information.

But now, according to the Justice Department official, Holder has directed that Risen must not be required to reveal information about the identity of his source.

If the government subpoenas Risen to require any of his testimony, the official said, it would be to confirm that he had an agreement with a confidential source, and that he did write the book.

No final decision has been made about exactly how to proceed, the official said, but added the government will no longer seek what hes most concerned about revealing.

The decision ends months of internal debate about how aggressive prosecutors should be in seeking Risens testimony. The federal judge overseeing the case, Leonie Brinkema of Alexandria, Virginia, gave the government until next Tuesday to declare how much he would be required to reveal in court.

Holder had earlier signaled he might decline to force Risen to reveal a source, telling a group of news media executives earlier this year that As long as I am attorney general, no reporter who is doing his job is going to jail.

Without Holders decision, Risen would have faced the difficult decision between revealing a source or facing possible jail time for contempt of court.

IN-DEPTH

  • Reporter Defends Release of NSA Spy Program
  • DOJ Gets Reporters Records in Leak Probe
  • Ex-CIA Officer Charged With Leak to Reporter

Dec 14 2014

WinWater Home Mortgage brings third jumbo RMBS to market

After bursting onto the scene with its first prime jumbo residential mortgage-backed securitization in June, WinWater Home Mortgage is set to bring its third jumbo RMBS to market soon.

WinWater Mortgage Loan Trust 2014-3 is backed by a pool of 356 loans with a total principal balance of $263,678,317. The average loan balance is $740,669 and the borrowers carry a weighted average FICO score of 764 and a weighted average debt-to-income ratio of 32.9%.

The high quality of the borrowers and the collateral is one of the main reasons that DBRS awarded AAA ratings to the majority of the securitizations classes.

According to DBRS presale report, the borrowers carry a weighted average original combined loan-to-value ratio of 71.7%, which indicates that the borrowers have considerable equity in their homes.

The borrowers also possess clean payment histories as well. The pool is on average four months seasoned, with a maximum age of 18 months, DBRS said. Although some loans are relatively seasoned, the payment histories on the loans are clean. No loan has had prior delinquencies since origination.

DBRS also noted the borrowers have high annual incomes and carry significant liquid reserves. For the entire pool, the (non-zero) WA primary borrower income exceeds $276,000 annually, DBRS said.

The WA liquid reserves for the loans are approximately $337,000, which is enough to cover over six years of monthly mortgage payments. On average, 7.3% of the loans have liquid reserves higher than their current loan balance.

One concern on the securitizations potential is the lack of history for WinWater, considering that the company launched its first securitization just six months ago.

WinWater was formed in July 2013 and is a relatively new securitizer of prime jumbo loans with limited performance history, DBRS said. As a mitigant, third-party due diligence was conducted on 100% of the loans. DBRS also conducted an aggregator operational risk assessment on the WinWater conduit and deems it to be an acceptable aggregator.

WinWater, which refers to itself as a residential mortgage conduit aggregator focused on opportunities in the non-agency jumbo sector, acquired the loans from a variety of originators.

The originators for the mortgage pool are Prospect Mortgage (11.2%), Ditech Mortgage (10.1%), Skyline Financial (6.2%), Parkside Lending (6.0%) and various other originators, each comprising less than 5% of the mortgage loans.

FirstKey Mortgage acquired 11.4% of the mortgage loans in the pool from various originators or sellers and subsequently sold them to WinWater Acquisition Trust WF-1.

DBRS also issued a caution based on the relative inexperience or lack of financial backing of some of the originators.

Some of the originators in the transaction may have limited history in prime jumbo securitizations and/or may potentially experience financial stress that could result in the inability to fulfill repurchase obligations as a result of breaches of representations and warranties, DBRS said. In addition, the remedies in this transaction have a backstop by an unrated entity.

To address these factors, DBRS said that it adjusted the originator scores of the lenders downward to account for the potential inability to fulfill repurchase obligations or the lack of performance history.

DBRS also said that it conducted an on-site review of WinWater and deems it to be operationally sound.

Dec 14 2014

Trade credit insurance members of ICISA positive about Greece

Dec 2 2014
Andreas Tesch, President of the International Credit Insurance amp; Surety Association (ICISA) advocates:
Given the current state of Greece’s economy and considerable growth of private trade credit insurance capacity, Greece should be included again on the list of marketable risk countries per 01.01.2015.

Availability of private trade credit insurance capacity
Private credit insurance capacity from the Members of ICISA for exports to Greece increased in 2013 and has grown considerably during 2014. Internal credit ratings for Greece remained stable in 2013 and have become more positive overall in 2014.

According to the Members of ICISA, cover is available for all trade sectors. Around 7 thousand credit limits are currently in force, an increase of approx. 90 % compared to 2013 (between 3 and 4 thousand credit limits), while insured turnover has increased nearly threefold to approx. EUR 3,700mio from 2013 (was EUR 700 – EUR 1,000mio). This confirms that the sector is positive about Greece as a market and that private capacity continues to increase. Given this impressive growth in capacity from private credit insurers in 2014, ICISA recommends to no longer exclude Greece from the list of marketable risk countries.

About ICISA
The International Credit Insurance amp; Surety Association (ICISA) brings together the worlds leading companies that provide credit insurance and/or surety bonds. Founded in 1928 as the first credit insurance association, the current members account for 95% of the worlds private trade credit insurance business. Today, with EUR 2 trillion in trade receivables insured and billions of euros worth of construction, services and infrastructure guaranteed, ICISA members play a central role in facilitating trade and economic development on all five continents and practically every country in the world.