Bear Creek Plaza next up on the market

While the new Medford Center ownership was checking its math and tallying up refurbishing costs, Bear Creek Plaza shopping center quietly went on the block a few months ago.
Bear Creek Ventures of Malibu, Calif., which acquired the shopping center on the southeast corner of Biddle Road and East McAndrews Road in 2007, is asking $25 million to $28 million — significantly more than the $22.175 million LBG Real Estate of Los Angeles paid Kimco Realty for Medford Center.
Medford Center boasts 335,000 square feet of leasable space versus 188,000 square feet at Bear Creek Plaza.
So why is Bear Creek Plaza fetching potentially 20 to 25 percent more than Medford Center ?
While Medford Center had infrastructure issues, suggesting it need a lot of physical updates, to go with leasing issues, Bear Creek is fully leased, including a batch of recent long-term renewals. The traffic counts are also the kind that cause retailers to drool.
The leases and location, in center of Medford’s commercial activity hub give the Bear Creek Ventures a lot of leverage.
“Highway 62 might have a higher traffic count, but a lot of that is pass through traffic,” said Tom Fischer of Coldwell Banker Commercial NW.
As a result, Bear Creek Plaza will likely more than double the $66 per square foot LBG Real Estate paid for Medford Center.
“The $66 per square foot,” Fischer said. “Was about right for what they have been getting, or not getting, in (lease) income. For someone to come in and buy at that price and then be able to fix it up and lease it at current market rates; that was a good buy.”

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Costco closed Thanksgiving, but Nov. sales grew

Costco reported November sales of $9.43 billion, an increase of seven percent from $8.79 billion in 2013.
It didn’t even take staying open Thanksgiving Day for the Issaquah, Wash.-based warehouse retailer to thrive.
For the 13 weeks ending Nov. 30,  Costco reported net sales of $28.73 billion, an increase of 7 percent from $26.80 billion over a year ago.
Excluding negative impacts from declining gasoline prices and foreign exchange, Costco said its sales grew 8 percent in November, but the 7 percent figure held up for the 13-week period.

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Steven Perlberg of the Wall Street Journal, notes Next Issue Media, a subscription service giving readers access to as many as 145 magazines for a monthly fee, has closed a $50 million financing round with KKR.
The private-equity group is hoping that magazine readers will line-up for subscriptions in the manner music-lovers have with Spotify, book-readers to Oyster, and TV-watchers to Netflix.
Next Issue Media has quietly gained more than 150,000 subscribers, who can pay $9.99 a month for publications including Vogue, Esquire, and Fortune. For another $5 weeklies such as the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated are available.
Publishers receive a portion of the revenue based on how much time readers spend with their content.

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Mobile shopping continues to make inroads

Mobile and online fraud prevention firm iovation.com reported 37 percent of retail online transactions from Black Friday to Cyber Monday were made from mobile phones and tablets.
A year ago, online retail purchases made from mobile devices accounted for 33 percent of sales.
Last week, iovation found mobile devices were used for 38 percent of transactions on Black Friday, 40 percent on the following Saturday and Sunday, 30 percent on Cyber Monday, and 44 percent the weekend before Black Friday, Nov. 22 and 23.

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The latest Credit Managers’ Index  from the National Association of Credit Management indicated how fragile economic progress can be.

The reading dropped from 57.0 to 55.8, taking the index back to levels not seen since February and March when the economy was in the middle of a significant first-quarter recession. While the reading wasn’t as low as September’s reading of 54.9, it was lower than all but three of the last 12 months.

The worry is that credit will tighten, the NACM said. On a brighter note, bankruptcies are not creating a major drag.

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Thoughts from an analyst who is bullish on Lithia

Simeon Rusanov, a fund manager for Lancaster University Investment and Finance Society in the United Kingdom, is flat out a believer in Lithia Motors.
Blogging for Seeking Alpha, a financial and investing website, Rusanov concluded a lengthy, detailed analysis thusly:

“To sum up, I am bullish on the automotive sector due to favorable economic conditions. I believe that Lithia Motors has good, if not the best, chances to capitalize on the current oil price and record sustainable long-term growth. Lithia Motors’ share price has been significantly depressed due to some short-term factors including downgrading of earnings guidance last quarter. This gives potential investors a great chance to enter into a long position, hoping that Lithia Motors won’t miss its lifetime opportunity.”

Lithia shares rocketed to a series of all-time highs a few months ago, dropped precipitously, and has regained stability in the $70-$75 range.

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Consumers can’t seem to figure out if things are getting better, or not.
The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures consumer confidence on a daily basis, held steady at 104.2 today. Consumer confidence is down one point from a week ago, up eight points from a month ago, and down six points from findings three months ago.
The Rasmussen Investor Index rose one point to 121.3 on Tuesday. Investor confidence is up two points from a week ago and 11 points from a month ago, but down ten points from three months ago.

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Medford Center no longer a “forgotten child”

The sale of Medford Center, announced Tuesday, received applause from commercial real estate brokers.

Tom Fischer of Coldwell Banker Commercial NW in Medford thinks LBG Real Estate Companies princpals Leslie Lundin, Doug Beiswenger and David Goldman are the right people at the right time for Medford Center.

“Doug and those guys have done turnarounds of shopping centers in the past, and I think they are well-suited for the task at Medford Center,” Fischer said.

New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Kimco Realty acquired Medford Center eight years ago as part of $4.1 billion deal with Pan Pacific Properties. But the global real estate giant treated the 55-year-old shopping center as an afterthought at best.

“Kimco always treated Medford Center like a forgotten child,” Fischer said. “They were never really on site and never quick to give attention

(LBG Real Estate) have a history that is much better. They are better in keeping contact with tenants and to be more aggressive to make it an active center. I see it as a definite positive move. They have plans and are excited about what Medford Center can be. I think it’s a great plus for a center that has been dealing with neglect.”

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The National Independent Automobile Dealers Association reports its member dealers were wary of the nation’s economic direction leading up to the midterm elections, delaying plans to expand their businesses in the third quarter.

NIADA’s Third Quarter Member Business Confidence Survey showed member dealers expected to expand their business fell 5.9 percentage points from the second quarter to 26.3 percent, while those expecting to hire new staff dropped 6.3 points to 26.7 percent.

In addition, 11.9 percent fewer dealers said they expected their retail sales to grow in the upcoming quarter, 16.7 percent fewer expected their cash flow to improve, 14 percent fewer expected customer traffic to increase and 9.2 percent fewer expected economic conditions to improve.

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The Oregon Small Business Association reports there are plenty of job openings in the northern part of the state.

The association reports Portland could see more than a thousand new jobs added to its economy from Aruba Networks, ShopKeep, eBay, Under Armour, CarMax, Fred Meyer and Cabela’s.

 

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Buffett buys into auto retailing à la Lithia Motors

Warren Buffet, through Berkshire Hathaway and its vast holdings, touches just about every life in the country.
If you doubt it, when you’re writing those monthly electric bill checks you’re adding to Buffet’s billions.
Now the Oracle of Omaha is buying into the auto retailing market.
That could make things more interesting for Lithia Motors, which just closed its deal purchase DCH Auto Group Inc. DCH operates 27 dealerships in Southern California, New Jersey and New York. Combined with its exisiting 101 operations Lithia now has a hand in 128 locations nationwide.
Combined with DCH sales, Lithia Motors is now a $5 billion-plus firm and the eighth-largest U.S. retailer with plenty of upside.
Asked about Buffett’s entry into auto retailing, Lithia Chairman Sid DeBoer saw the move as a reassuring pat on the back.
“It confirms what we have known for years,” DeBoer said. “Auto retailing is a great business.”
Berkshire Thursday agreed to buy Van Tuyl Group, the fifth-largest auto dealership firm with 78 dealerships from California to Florida.
As has been the case with the DeBoer family, Buffett said in a CNBC interview he anticipates plenty of family-owned dealerships are ripe for the picking.

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So just what will those investigative law firms find beneath the Harry & David rock pile?

I find it downright hilarious when attorneys start pointing fingers at attorneys.

When you consider who ended up holding shares of the rebirthed Harry & David Holdings three years ago, it is nearly laughable to read the spate of law firm announcements, couched with all-due-indignation, how they are investigating Harry & David’s sale to 1-800-Flowers.com.

As an example:

Levi & Korsinsky is investigating the Board of Directors of Harry & David Holdings Inc. for possible breaches of fiduciary duty and other violations of state law in connection with the sale of the Company to 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.”

If such law firms are concerned about the (poor) widows and orphans holding shares, they shouldn’t be. The over-the-counter shares were held primarily by former Wasserstein & Co. investors (some of them holding law degrees themselves). Those are the same folks who sunk Harry & David under impossible debt, dumped its pension program and jilted mom and pop vendors here in the Rogue Valley with the blessing of a Delaware Bankruptcy Court judge.

So one can only conclude the financial world equivalent of ambulance-chasing lawyers automatically launch “investigations” every time a Wall Street deal occurs.

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 Every time I attend an Internet security, digital security or scam security conference, I am reminded: There are two types of people, those whose personal/business stuff has been hacked, and those whose personal/business staff will be hacked in the near future.

To wit, here is a New York Times pieces detailing what the Home Depot security breach means to its customers.

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Dust in the wind: Nothing lasts forever…

In this case, the idea that you can flip the switch and lights will come on or microwave reheat the leftovers may soon be passé.

There are plenty of contributing factors, and this Portland Business Journal reports addresses part of the equation.

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Erickson ink 5-year fire supression deal with L.A.

Some good news from Erickson Inc., which builds and maintains heavy-lift helicopters outside Central Point.
Erickson Wednesday announced a five-year contract with the City of Los Angeles to provide aerial firefighting services. Hot dry winds easily fan flames into large wildfires, threatening hundreds of homes almost every year.
The new contract includes five one-year optional extensions, as well as a 150-day per year minimum availability, up from 90 days in 2013.
Erickson has had a presence in Southern California over the past 14 years, providing fire fighting support for Los Angeles County and San Diego Gas and Electric.
Erickson will provide one S-64 helicopter equipped with a 2,650-gallon fire suppression system. The Los Angeles Fire Department Air Operations Center at Van Nuys Airport will serve as the staging area for the helitanker.

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Costco Wholesale Corp.’s fourth-quarter and fiscal 2014 sales both grew substantially.
The Issaquah, Wash.-based warehouse retailer reported a 9 percent gain in its 16-week fourth quarter sales to  $34.8 billion from $31.8 billion from a similar period ending Sept. 1, 2013.
For the 52-week fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2014, Costco reported net sales of $110.2 billion, a 7 percent advance from the $102.9 billion recorded in fiscal 2013.

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When it comes to matching national demographics, Medford isn’t even close

The folks at WalletHub have taken national data, categorized it into four broad areas: Socio-demographic, housing, economic, and educational rankings.

The consumer and business research firm then ranked Metropolitan Statistical Areas according to how close they matched up against the overall national figures.

Medford isn’t exactly a mirror image of America, ranking 238 out of 366 MSAs. Our socio-economic level is a bit farther off the national mark at No. 253. We’re closest when it comes to housing at No. 84, and nearly in Pluto’s orbit when it comes to economic status at No. 349. Medford is No. 189 when it comes to education.

When it comes to matching up nationally in gender characteristics, Albuquerque, N.M, tops the list, followed by Tucson, Ariz. Eugene is No. 4.

When it comes to tenure in a residence, Las Cruces, N.M., tops the list, followed by  Springfield, Mo., Great Falls. Mont., and Bend.

There are two universities with both land and sea grant status in the country — Texas A&M and Oregon State. Coincidentally, College Station, Texas, and Corvallis are among the five communities farthest from the nation’s wealth gap reference point. Although it’s not exactly clear what that means, it appears to be a good thing.

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A look at the DC-10 air tankers flying out of the Medford airport this summer.

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If you’ve got the time, BLS has a tome for you

Bureau of Labor Statistics reports fall somewhere between less-than-riveting and needing cautionary warnings: “The following may put you to sleep.”

Nonetheless, if you are in business, or want to know where your retail dollars are flowing, a new Prices & Spending report Trends in producer prices between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail trade establishments released this month has plenty of interesting tidbits.

It’s here we learn that as recently as 2011, about a third of all retail stores had more than 500 employees, compared with 5 percent of those in the electronic shopping and mail-order houses industry. While 87 percent of online establishments had fewer than 20 employees, that number fell to 56 percent among retailers.

We’re also told well-located brick-and-mortar stores have less need for marketing than those with an electronic storefront. In 2012, for example, electronic and mail-order shopping retailers spent three times, on average, the amount on advertising and promotions per dollar of sales.

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With that other Premier bank no longer on the scene, it makes perfect sense for Columbia Commercial Bancorp  to take on the Premier Commercial Bancorp moniker.

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Satellite and cable carriers never like to reveal how many poker games they’re playing at once; makes it easier to shift cards from hand to hand that way. As well as its relatively small-potatoes clash with KDRV owner Heartland Media, DISH is pushing chips around with FS1 (the Fox Sports channel), a much bigger player.

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Idaho dairy group urges farmers not to give tours to outsiders.

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