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CBJ Report: Optimism high for 2018 from Corridor business owners

CBJ Report

Optimism high for 2018 from Corridor business owners

As 2018 gets underway, we’ve been talking to Corridor business leaders to get their take on the year ahead.

The good news is optimism appears high. Experts say they’re expecting a good year in sectors dependent on consumer spending and confidence. Construction looks solid, retail is expanding and manufacturers are seeing increased demand.

That includes companies like John Deere, which saw its stock price rise 50 percent in 2017. We’ll actually be hosting Deere’s Chief Economist on Jan. 17 for our annual Economic Forecast Luncheon. He’ll be talking about the manufacturing and ag sectors in 2018.

You can read more about that on corridorbusiness.com.

Casey's responds to activist shareholders seeking chain's sale

Convenience store chain Casey's General Stores on Wednesday defended its record of providing shareholder value in response to activists shareholders' call for the company to be sold, but said it will carefully review their comments.

JCP Investment Management LLC, BLR Partners LP and Joshua E. Schechter issued an open letter to shareholders Wednesday, in which they said Casey's shares "are significantly undervalued as they do not reflect the true earnings power and full real estate value of the company's irreplaceable fleet of 2,000-plus stores."

The investors own some $45 million in Casey's stock, or about 1 percent of the total. They said the Ankeny-based chain has missed earnings targets for seven straight quarters due in part to decelerating same-store sales and "bloated operational expenses," and argued that the company has underperformed rivals such as Murphy USA and Alimentation Couche-Tard.

Casey's President and CEO Terry Handley said in a statement later Wednesday that company officials met with JCP representatives last summer, but JCP did not raise their recommendation that the company explore "strategic alternatives" - typically a sale or other business combination. He said the company's five-year total shareholder return of 121 percent exceeds that of the S&P 500 index and the S&P's Retail Index over that period.

Mr. Handley said Casey's is focused on generating increased long-term value through new initiatives to accelerate same-store sales growth and returning value to shareholders through share repurchases and dividend increases.

Iowa remains 'outbound' state in annual Atlas migration report

Iowa remained an 'outbound' state for household moves in 2017 for the third straight year in Atlas Van Lines' annual household migration report.

It analyzed 72,986 household moves by Atlas in 2017, breaking down how many moves went into each state for the year versus how many went out. Total moves were down from 75,427 in 2016.

Atlas reported 779 households moved out of Iowa during the year, versus 609 who moved in. It continues a 'outbound' trend that began in 2015.

Idaho had the best ratio of outbound to inbound moves, with 65.1 percent of all its moves inbound. Illinois had the worst ratio, with 62.4 percent of moves outbound.

Iowa was one of 17 states classified as "outbound," with the vast majority of states - 23 - classified as balanced. None of the states classified as "inbound" were in the Midwest. To see the full report, click here.

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