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archived feb. 15 2007

Vets, employers meet at job fair sponsored by the Workforce Alliance and Veterans Affairs.

Burger King tests new cooking oils, moves toward eliminating trans fats

burger king logoMIAMI — Burger King Corp. has begun testing several trans fat-free cooking oils in its restaurants, the company announced Wednesday.The company is on track for a national roll-out of the healthier oils by late 2008, said John Schaufelberger, Burger King’s vice president of product marketing and innovation. The company will meet New York City trans fat-free requirements in advance of its national rollout.“We have been working for more than two years to identify trans fat-free cooking oils,” said Schaufelberger. “Our goal has been to identify trans fat-free oils that allow for the same great taste and texture quality.”

BFC agrees to buy Levitt Corp.

FORT LAUDERDALE — BFC Financial Corp. has agreed to buy historic homebuilder Levitt Corp. for $286 million, the two companies announced Wednesday.BFC, a publicly traded Florida-based investment company, already owns 17 percent of Levitt, the firm that built Levittown housing developments in the years after World War II.Under terms of the deal, owners of Levitt’s class A stock will receive 2.27 shares of BFC’s class A stock, a deal worth $14.41 based on Tuesday’s closing price.“This tax-free transaction is intended to provide Levitt shareholders a significant market premium, while preserving their opportunity to participate in any future home building recovery,” said Alan Levan, the CEO and chairman of both Levitt and BFC. “This transaction also provides Levitt additional strength and resources during a very challenging time.”

Fed holds line on interest rates

WASHINGTON — The Federal Open Market Committee Reserve has held its federal funds target interest rate at 5.25 percent, citing signs of a moderately growing economy and an improving inflation outlook.

CiTX scammers receive prison terms

FORT LAUDERDALE — Two Pennsylvania men have been sentenced to prison terms and ordered to pay millions in restitution for their part in an Internet fraud scheme that took 46,000 victims for more than $15 million.Federal court Judge James I. Cohn sentenced Bernard Roemmele, CEO of CiTX of Quakertown, Pa., to 12 years, and Steve Hein, the company’s executive vice president, to four years in prison for their roles in what authorities called one of the largest Internet frauds ever prosecuted in South Florida. Cohn also ordered the two men to pay $14.8 million in restitution.CiTX was a Quakertown software firm that along with Boca Raton-based marketing firm PRSI sold “Internet malls,” claiming mall owners could make commissions for items sold. For $295, would-be entrepreneurs could buy CiTX’s software needed to run the malls. They also sold shares of CiTX to their victims and convinced them they could make more money by recruiting others into Internet mall business.Last August, a federal court jury found the two guilty of racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Reinsurers criticize Florida's new insurance reform package

Reinsurers, the companies that help insurers cover claims, say the insurance reform bill aimed at lowering hurricane insurance rates puts the state at risk financially if a major storm blows through Florida during the next few years. The bill increases the size of Florida's Hurricane Catastrophe Fund and makes it easier for insurance companies to tap the fund in case of a hurricane strike. .

Consumers gain confidence

Conference Board index

GAINESVILLE — Consumer confidence nationally and in Florida picked up in January in part because of the strong jobs marke, according to separate reports released Tuesday.The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, edged up slightly to 110.3 from 110.0 in December. The University of Florida consumer confidence index for the state jumped four points to 95 from 91 in December.The present situation index increased to 133.9 from 130.5. The Expectations Index, however, declined to 94.5 from 96.3 last month."This month's slight increase in confidence was solely the result of an improvement in the present situation index, fueled primarily by a more favorable job market," said Conference Board survey director Lynn Franco. "Looking ahead, however, consumers are not as optimistic as they were in December.”In Florida, consumer confidence was more broadly based.“Consumers continue to be optimistic here in Florida,” survey director Chris McCarty said. “The employment situation here in Florida is better than it has been in decades, at least in terms of people having jobs. The stock market had a pretty good run in January. … This all translates to higher consumer confidence.”McCarty said he ultimately expects the slumping housing market to affect consumer spending, though it has yet to show any significant effect on confidence index readings.


Boca Raton hospital gets $75 milion to build academic medical center

BOCA RATON — Boca Raton Community Hospital Tuesday said it has received a $75 million donation from the Schmidt Family Foundation for the creation of the Charles E. Schmidt Medical Center to be built on the campus of Florida Atlantic University.The Schmidt will be the first new academic medical center to be built in the U.S. in nearly 10 years. It will have 530 patient rooms and will open in 2011.The center will allow FAU medical students to complete their training on campus. Now, students study for two years in Boca Raton, before transferring to he University of Miami Miller School of Medicine for their final two years.Charles Schmidt served as a member of the Boca Raton Community Hospital’s board of trustees for 15 years, including one as board chairman.The donation is believed to be the largest ever given to a community hospital and the third-largest given to all hospitals and health systems in the U.S.

Eight charged with business fraud

MIAMI — Eight South Florida residents have been charged in federal court with defrauding would-be business owners through a company called Cash Link Systems of Hollywood that sold “cashless ATMs.”Those charged with fraud include: Alberto Ferreiras, Leslie Rattet, Peter Solo, Lee Samuel, James Settembrino, Bernardo Susi, Charles Bohn and Benjamin Goss.According to the charges, Cash Link would to sell distributorships for about $12,000. Cash Link promised to secure sites for the ATMs, move any that underperformed and limit the number of machines in any area. Cash Link, however, never delivered on any of the promises.Four others, Leonard Needelman, Cash Link’s director of operations, Alan Levine, Cash Link’s president, Jason Kowal, a fraudulent Cash Link reference and Leland Balber, a Cash Link salesman, already have been found guilty of fraud and received prison terms.

Miami-Dade doctor found guilty in $2.1 million Medicare fraud scheme

MIAMI — A federal court jury has convicted a Miami-Dade doctor  in connection with a $2.1 million Medicare fraud scheme involving two Miami AIDS clinics.Frantz Achille was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud. Achille was a doctor at two AIDS clinics in 2005, where he and others falsified paperwork and received more than $2.1 million in payments from Medicare for AIDS treatments. In most cases, the patients never needed the treatments that were supposedly given — and never received any treatmentAchille is to be sentenced by Judge K. Michael Moore on April 17. He faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison on each  count.Last year, Rosa Walled, Rafael Walled, Gregory Delatour and Adela Faustina Gonzalez pleaded guilty for their involvement in the scheme.Isaac Nosovsky, a former Weston plastic surgeon, was convicted of fraud last summer and sentenced to 65 months in prison.

Perry Ellis sells fragrance business to Falic Fashion for $63 million

MIAMI — Perry Ellis International Inc. said Monday that it has agreed to sell its frangrance business to Falic Fashion Group for $63 million.Perry else also agreed to a licensing agreement with Falic Fashion for the manufacture and distribution of perfumes, lotions, toiletries and cosmetics under the Perry Ellis brand.The deals are expected to add 9 cents a share to the company’s earnings for fiscal 2008, taking the intial projection of $1.71 to $1.75 a share to $1.80 to $1.84 a share. “We are very excited about this new direction for our fragrance business given Falic Fashion Group's keen understanding of the high-end and luxury markets,” said Perry Ellis  chairman and CEO George Feldenkreis. “They are strongly committed to positioning our Perry Ellis fragrances in channels that complement our apparel distribution, which is essential to further enhancing the cross-category lifestyle concept of our Perry Ellis brand."

Hannover Re raised premiums for reinsurance by 40 percent in 2006

One reason why hurricane insurance rates have shot up over the past year: Hannover Re, one of the world's largest reinsurance companies, raised rates by 40 percent in hurricane-prone areas like Florida last year. The company paid $1 billion in hurricane claims in 2005.

FPL Group reports profit growth

JUNO BEACH — FPL Group Friday reported profits of $268 million, or 67 cents a share, on revenue of $3.6 billion for the fourth quarter of 2006. For the same period a year earlier, FPL posted profits of $209 million, or 54 cents a share, on revenue of $3.2 billion.For all of 2006, the company earned $1.3 billion, or $3.23 a share, on revenue of $15.7 billion, compared with profit of $901 million, or $2.34 a share, on revenue of $11.8 billion."FPL Group performed well in 2006 posting record adjusted earnings of approximately $1.2 billion driven by continued outstanding results at FPL Energy and solid execution across virtually every segment of our business,” said FPL chairman and CEO Lew Hay.For 2007, FPL is projecting adjusted earnings of $3.35 to $3.45 a share. For 2008, the company is projecting earnings of $3.60 to $3.80 a share. The projections assume normal weather.FPL shares closed Friday at $56, up 59 cents.

Jacuzzi shareholders approve sale

WEST PALM BEACH  — Jacuzzi Brands Inc. said Thursday that its shareholders have approved Apollo Management’s $1.25 billion  buyout of the company.The price tag translates into $12.50 a share for Jacuzzi, an offer some shareholders have argued as too low.“We are pleased with the outcome of today’s vote,” said Jacuzzi Chairman Thomas B. Waldin. “We believe that our merger with Apollo is the best outcome for our stockholders, our employees and the future of Jacuzzi Brands.”The deal is expected to close in early to mid-February.

Standard and Poor's lowers rating on Florida's catastrophe fund

TALLAHASSEE — Standard and Poor's has lowered its rating of $4 billion in bonds issued by the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund because of the prospects for increased debt under the state's newly enacted insurance reform bill. That bill, passed Monday and signed into law Thursday, makes it easier for insurance companies to tap the fund in order to pay hurricane claims. It also raises the amount the fund can offer insurers in case of a really bad storm.

Florida used home sales continue to slide but prices are stabilizing

DELRAY BEACH — Used home sales in Florida continued to fall in December but prices showed signs of stabilizing in some markets.The Florida Association of Realtors reported Thursday that statewide used home sales dropped 28 percent in December to 12,415 from 17,215 in December 2005. The median price dropped 2 percent to $241,100 from $245,000 a year ago.The picture in South Florida was mixed. Sales dropped in all three counties but prices were essentially flat or gained slightly in Broward and Miami-Dade. Palm Beach County, however, both sales and prices dropped sharply.Broward saw 618 homes sold in December compared with 666 a year earlier; the median price dropped to $367,600 from $369,000 a year earlier.In Miami-Dade, December sales totaled 639 compared with 668 a year earlier; the median price actually rose to $380,1000 from $377,700 a year earlier.In Palm Beach County, sales dropped to 607 from 743 a year earlier; the median price fell 10 percent to $368,200 from $408,200 a year earlier.

Crist signs insurance reform bill

charlie cristTALLAHASSEE — The massive hurricane insurance reform bill the Legislature passed Monday is now law.Gov. Charlie Crist signed the bill Thursday.“Today, we have a message for the people of Florida:  ‘Help is on the way!’" Crist said. “We have heard the calls for help from Floridians suffering from high insurance rates. With this legislation, the powerless have become the powerful, and the credit goes to the people of Florida for letting their voices be heard.”Lawmakers have estimated the bill will save homeowners between 5 and 22 percent, depending on where they live and who insures their home.

Florida's hurricane reform bill likely to hit reinsurance industry hard

The massive hurricane insurance reform bill that the Legislature passed Monday could cost reinsurers as much as $1.5 billion in premiums, analysts say. The bill makes available as much as $32 billion available to insurers to pay claims at rates much cheaper than carriers can get in the private marker.

Citrix Systems earnings flat for the fourth quarter, but up for the year

FORT LAUDERDALE — Tech firm Citrix Systems Tuesdaycitrix systems logo reported fourth quarter profit of $59 million, or 32 cents a share, on revenue of $321 million, compared with profit of $59 million, or 32 cents a share, on revenue of $269 million for the same period a year ago.For the year, profit totaled $196.3 million, or $1.05 a share, on revenue of $1.1 billion, compared with profit of $166.3 million, or 93 cents, on revenue of $909 million.“A strong finish to another very strong year of growth,” said Citrix CEO Mark Templeton. “We’ve built excellent momentum in each of our businesses, and I believe we’re entering 2007 with the best product pipeline, channel partnerships, and brand strength we’ve ever had."Citrix released its results after the close of regular trading. The announcement lifted Citrix shares by as much as $3.31 cents a share to $33.18 in after hours trading. Citrix shares rose $1.16 to $29.87 in regular trading. Citrix is projecting earnings of $1.14 a share to $1.19 a share on revenue of $1.29 billion to $1.31 billion for 2007. Citrix is a member of the Palm Beach Major South Florida Stocks portfolio.

Colonial BancGroup to buy Miami-based Commercial Bankshares

MIAMI — Colonial BancGroup of Montgomery, Ala., has agreed to buy Miami-based Commercial Bankshares, parent of Commercial Bank of Florida, for $317 million.Under the terms of the deal announced Tuesday, Commercial shareholders will receive $157.5 million in cash, plus 6.5 million Colonial shares worth $160 million.Commercial Bank has 14 offices and $1 billion in assets concentrated in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.The deal will give Colonial 62 branches and deposits totaling $3.8 billion in South Florida.

Harbinger Capital bid wins Applica

MIRAMAR — And the winner of the Applica sweepstakes is … Harbinger Capital Partners.The long-running fight for Applica ended quickly Tuesday morning when shareholders voted in favor of Harbinger’s $8.25 a share buyout offer. Cleveland-based Nacco Industries Ltd. also had sought control of Applica, the Miramar company best known for making kitchen appliances under the Black & Decker label.Harbinger already owns nearly 40 percent of Applica through two hedge funds. Nacco, which has a division that makes Hamilton Beach and Procter Silex products, originally agreed to buy Applica at $6 a share last July.That deal fell through in September, ultimately instigating a series of offers and counteroffers between Nacco and Harbinger that lifted the Applica’s price tag by 38 percent.

Cemex continues to court Rinker, extends tender offer to March 30

Mexican cement giant Cemex SA on Tuesday extended its $13-a-share offer for Rinker Group Ltd., parent of West Palm Beach-based Rinker Materials, until March 30. Rinker management has opposed the offer, saying it's too low. The stock was trading at $14.40.

Lawmakers pass insurance relief bill

TALLAHASSEE — Relief is on its way to Florida’s long-suffering insurance customers. Maybe.A nearly unanimous Legislature Monday passed a massive hurricane insurance reform bill that provides some help for insurers and some heartburn as well, while promising rate cuts to consumers. The bill now goes to Gov. Charlie Crist for his signature. More.

FPL Group joins General Electric, others seeking national carbon cap

JUNO BEACH — FPL Group, parent of Florida Power & Light, is among a coalition of businesses backing a U.S. cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

archived Jan. 31

Former Mutual Benefits boss given 20 years for running viaticals scam

MIAMI — Peter Lombardi, a Fort Lauderdale accountant who once ran one of the largest scams ever to come out of South Florida, will be spending most of the next 20 years behind bars.On Friday, federal court Judge Paul C. Huck sentenced Lombardi to 20 years in prison, plus three years of supervised release for his role in running Mutual Benefits Corp., a viaticals scam that took 28,000 investors worldwide for more than $956 million. Altogether, Mutual Benefits attracted $1.3 billion.Viatical investments involve buying the life insurance policies of the terminally ill and cashing them once the person has died.Lombardi pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges last October just before his trial was to get underway.  He admitted that Mutual Benefits directed an international network of sales agents and marketing directors who fraudulently induced investors to buy interests in viatical and life settlements by lying about the safety and security of the investments. In effect, Mutual Benefit was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, with money from recently sold policies used to pay off older investors to create the appearance of generating legitimate profits.Another defendant, Clark Mitchell, is to be sentenced on March 7. He faces as much as 15 years in prison on securities fraud and conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud charges.

Florida's jobless rate dipped slightly in December, report shows

TALLAHASSEE — The jobless rates in Florida and in the region dipped slightly in December, according to the state Agency for Workforce Innovation.However, the report the agency released Friday, continued to show slower job growth statewide because of the slump in the construction industry.Statewide, the jobless rate for December was 3.3 percent, same as November but down  from 3.4 percent a year ago. The national rate for December was 4.5 percent.Broward County, at 2.7 percent, had the lowest rate among South Florida’s three counties. That compares with 3.0 percent in November and 2.9 percent a year earlier.Miami-Dade posted a jobless rate of 3.5 percent compared with 3.7 percent in November and 3.6 percent a year ago; in Palm Beach County, the rate fell to 3.0 percent from 3.3 percent in November and 3.1 percent in November.The state and national rates are seasonally adjusted. County rates are not seasonally adjusted, making year-over-year comparisons more meaningful than month-to-month. Rates typically fall in December, as the tourist season moves into full swing.The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan statistical area, which includes Palm Beach County, added 56,700 jobs during the 12 months through December, the most of any region in the state.

NBC supports sale of Ion Media

WEST PALM BEACH — NBC Universal is backing a proposalion media networks logo by Citadel Investments to take control of Ion Media Networks, the company formerly known as Paxson Communications of West Palm Beach.Under terms of the proposal, which reached Ion after the close of business Thursday, Citadel would pay Ion investors $1.41 a share for the company. Ion has had the largest collection of broadcast television stations in the country, reaching 90 million television households. The reach of those stations has made the company intriguing to investors. However, Ion has been chronicly plagued by a lack of cash to develop programming that would attract an audience.

Lawmakers look for compromise on hurricane insurance relief bills

TALLAHASSEE — House and Senate leaders began negotiating the final form of an insurance reform bill aimed at lowering homeowner premium. The goal is to have a bill ready to pass by the time the special session ends on Monday.

The Chandler family makes a $7.6 billion offer for the Tribune Co.

The Chandler familiy, which once published the Los Angeles Times, is offering $7.6 billion for the Tribune Co., with the intention of keeping the newspapers and spinning off the company's broadcast assets. The Chandlers became the Tribune Co.'s largest shareholder after selling the Los Angeles Times Co. several years ago. Tribune Co. publishes the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel. .

House passes insurance bill

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that would freeze rates for Citizens Property Insurance Corp. customers and allow insurers greater access to the state's hurricane reinsurance fund. The bill, however, does not guarantee rate relief for most homeowners.

Home builder Lennar posts 4th quarter loss, citing housing slump

MIAMI — Home builder Lennar Corp. posted its first quarterly loss in a decade Wednesday, just as it said it would.The company, citing the slumping housing market, reported a fourth quarter loss of $195.6 million, or $1.24 a share, on revenue of $4.3 billion, compared with a profit of $581 million, or $3.70 a share, on revenue of $5 billion.Figures for the fourth quarter include $152.2 million in write-offs of deposits and other costs regarding 24,235 home sites that Lennar had under option but doesn’t intend to buy. They also include $69.1 million in  land valuation “adjustements.”

For 2006, the company earned $594 million, or $3.76 a share, on revenue of $16.3 billion, compared with profit of $1.4 billion, or $8.72 a share, on revenue of $13.9 billion a year earlier."As we noted in our pre-earnings release, market conditions have remained depressed through the end of our fourth quarter,” said Lennar CEO Stuart Miller. “In this environment, we have continued to focus on strengthening our balance sheet.”Miller said it was difficult to estimate 2007 results but he said if economic conditions hold — continued job growth and low mortgage rates — the company should post earnings in the same range as 2006. Lennar shares were trading at $51.99, up $2.29, by mid-afternoon.

Harbinger sweetens offer; Applica delays shareholder vote on buyout

MIRAMAR — Applica Inc. once again delayed its shareholder vote on two buyout proposals Wednesday after receiving a sweetened offer from hostile suitor Nacco Industries Ltd.Cleveland-based Nacco on Tuesday raised its offer to $8.05 a share from $7.90. Applica’s preferred suitor, Harbinger Capital Partners, trumped Nacco with an offer of $8.25 a share. Harbinger already owns about 40 percent of Applica, a kitchen appliance maker.Nacco and Harbinger have been trading bids for Applica since early December. Last July,  Applica agreed on Nacco’s offer to buy Applica at $6 a share. But by September, Applica had broke off the deal.The back-and-forth between Nacco and Harbinger has done wonders for Applica’s shareholders. The stock was trading at $8.37 early Wednesday afternoon — it’s highest level since July 7, 2004.A year ago Applica shares closed at $1.74.Applica said it will reconvene its shareholder meeting to vote on the two offers next Tuesday

Nacco again ups offer for Applica

CLEVELAND — Nacco Industries Inc. once again has increased its hostile, per-share offer for Miramar-based kitchen appliance maker Applica Inc., this time by 15 cents.It’s now offering Applica investors $8.05 per share, compared to the $7.75 a share offered for the company by Harbinger Capital Partners. Applica’s board has urged shareholders to sell out to Harbinger, which already owns nearly 40 percent of the company through two hedge funds.Applica shareholders are scheduled to vote on the competing offers Wednesday morning. It’s not known whether the board will postpone the vote as it has the previous times Nacco has upped its offer for the company. It originally agreed to pay $6 a share.As of the close of business on Friday, Nacco said 3,300 Applica shares had been tendered to the company.

Unlikely duo may bid for Tribune

Art collector Eli Broad and grocery magnate Ron Burkle, both of Los Angeles, are debating whether to bid for the Tribune Co., publisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Orlando Sentinel and owner of the Chicago Cubs. Bids are due Wednesday.

Corporate raider Carl Icahn buys stake in WCI Communities

BONITA SPRINGS — Carl Icahn has bought a 14.6 percent stake in WCI Communities, the Bonita Springs-based home builder that has a major presence in South Florida. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Icahn said he bought the shares because they were undervalued.

Federal regulators are probing Commerce Bank land deals

Commerce Bank, the Cherry Hill, N.J. bank that moved into the South Florida market a year ago, said Tuesday that the Office of Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve are looking at land deals involving the bank and bank officials.

Applica board continues to back Harbinger Capital's buyout bid

MIRAMAR — Applica Inc. continues to back Harbinger Capital’s bid for the company rather than a richer bid from Nacco Industries Ltd.Co. shareholders are set to vote on the two offers on Wednesday.Cleveland-based Nacco is offering $7.90 a share for Applica, the Miramar-based company best known for making Black and Decker brand kitchen appliances.Harbinger, which already owns 39 percent of Applica through two hedge funds, is offering $7.75 a share. The fact that Harbinger owns so much of Applica raises question about whether Nacco can attract enough shares to complete a deal, Applica said in a statement.Nacco and Harbinger have been trading offers and counter offers for Applica since early December.

More workers switched jobs in 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE — Workers are willing and able to change jobs to grow their careers and put more money in their pockets, according to Spherion’s latest Workplace Snapshot survey.In fact, the survey found that 21 percent of workers made a career move in 2006 up slightly from the 21 percent that switched jobs in 2005. Harris Interactive conducted the survey on behalf of Spherion.

Thirty percent of those making a change cited career growth and financial gain as the reason; 23 percent cited achieving better work/life balance.“The idea that the best way to grow financially and otherwise is to stay with one employer has been eroding to the point of extinction,” said John Heins, a senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Spherion. “Workers today are loyal only to employers who provide abundant opportunities to increase both their skills and earning power.”Those most likely to make a change: younger workers and those making less than $15,000 a year.

Turnover does come with a cost for employers — from about $7,000 for an hourly worker to as much as $80,000 for a technical worker or senior manager, according to the Center for Workforce Learning.

Scripps may separate newspapers from more profitable TV ventures

E.W. Scripps, parent company of the Stuart News, is considering selling off its 18 newspapers to concentrate on its more profitable cable and syndication operations. Scripps properties include cable television's HGTV and the Food Network.

It also owns WPTV in West Palm Beach, WFTS-TV in Tampa and the Naples Daily News. The Stuart News is part of a network of newspapers called Treasure Coast News.Knight Ridder, former owner of The Miami Herald, made a similar move last year, and the Tribune Co., publisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel, is considering doing the same. .

Community associations lobby legislators for insurance changes

TALLAHASSEE — The Community Association Leadership Lobby is pushing the Legislature to change the law to allow community associations to band together to buy property insurance.The intent is to give homeowner and condo associations some leverage to hold down skyrocketing insurance rates.The Florida Legislature meets in special session next week to deal with the state’s hurricane insurance crisis.

“Because Florida law has specifically denied them the right to organize to spread their insurance risk across community associations throughout the state, to date these common-interest ownership communities have been unable to effectively act to halt the skyrocketing insurance rates that are wreaking havoc on their community finances," said CALL Executive Director Donna D. Berger.CALL wants associations to be able to form nonprofit “self-insurance pools” just as trade and professional groups now can.

Yes, it happened again — Applica delays vote as Nacco sweetens offer

MIRAMAR — Once again Applica Inc. has delayed a vote on the proposed sale of the company to Harbinger Capital Partners because of a sweetened offer from hostile suitor Nacco Industries Ltd.Shareholders were to vote Wednesday morning but Applica, a maker of kitchen appliances, delayed the vote by a week after Nacco raised its offer by 15 cents a share to $7.90. Harbinger did not match it, but Applica’s board has yet to change its recommendation of Harbinger’s $7.75 a share bid. However, it is studying the Nacco offer.Harbinger already owns about 40 percent of the company through two hedge funds.This is the fifth time Cleveland-based Nacco raised its offer since Applica pulled out of a sale agreement in September. In July, Applica had agreed to a sale to Nacco at $6 a share.Nacco makes kitchen appliances under the Procter Silex and Hamilton Beach labels. Applica’s best known brand is Black and Decker.

BankAtlantic agrees to sell Ryan Beck brokerage to Stifel Financial

FORT LAUDERDALE — BankAtlantic Bancorp has agreed to sell its Ryan Beck stock brokerage to St. Louis-based Stifel Financial Corp. in a deal worth at least $91.1 million and possibly much more.Under terms of the deal, BankAtlantic will receive 2.531 million shares of Stifel stock now valued at about $36 each. At closing, Stifel will have the option of substituting cash for about 150,000 shares.BankAtlantic will receive five-year warrants to buy 500,000 shares of Stifel at a $36 a piece.The deal includes several contingency payments that could lift the total value of the deal considerably for BankAtlantic.

The performance of designated employees in Ryan Beck’s private client division could give BankAtlantic as much as $40 million over two years.BankAtlantic could make more money if certain employees in Ryan Beck’s investment banking division generate more than $25 million in revenue in each of the next two years.“Early in 2006, we filed a registration statement (with the Securities and Exchange Commission) under which we announced our intention to sell a portion or all of Ryan Beck in an initial public offering,” said BankAtlantic chairman and CEO Alan Levan. “At that time, we also indicated a willingness to consider other alternatives to monetize this investment. Today’s announcement is the culmination of that process.”

Florida foreclosures increased by 27 percent in 2006; state 2nd in nation

SACREMENTO — The good news: Florida did not lead the nation in foreclosures during 2006. The bad news: the number of foreclosures in the Sunshine State increased by nearly 27 percent, according to foreclosures totaled 120,989 in 2006, up from 95,384 in 2005 when it led the nation. Nearly 50,000 of the 2006 foreclosures occurred in South Florida, including 12,464 in Palm Beach County, 20,681 in Miami-Dade and 16,295 in Broward.Fourth quarter foreclosures in Palm Beach County totaled 4,802 — an increase of nearly 400 percent from the same period a year ago, according to data. California’s 157,417 foreclosures in 2006 pushed Florida into the No. 2 spot nationally.Nationwide, there were 970,948 foreclosure filings for the year, up more than 51 percent from about 641,000 in 2005."Nonetheless, the worst is over," says Alexis McGee, president of, which has been analyzing housing markets since 1992. “Home inventories are dropping and markets are improving. That means relief to some overextended homeowners.”

U.S. attorney's office investigating Pediatrix stock options dating

FORT LAUDERDALE — Pediatrix announced late Friday that the U.S. attorney's office in Miami has begun an investigation into allegations that the company back-dated executive stock options. The Securities and Exchange Commission already is conducting an informal investigation into the matter.According to a company report, the company improperly backdated stock options between 1995 and 2006. The company said it may have to restate earnings to account for $28 million in compensation given through the backdated options.Former Chief Financial Officer Lawrence Mullen, who was involved in administrating the options program, resigned from the Pediatrix board as a result of the affair.

Procter & Gamble gets stake in Boca Raton-based doctors' practice

BOCA RATON — Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods conglomerate, has bought a minority stake in MDVIP, the Boca Raton-based doctors group that provides patients willing to pay for an extra level of medical care.MDVIP announced the deal Monday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. “This is a major step forward in MDVIP’s rapid evolution,” said Dr. Edward E. Goldman, MDVIP’s CEO.Said Procter & Gamble’s Nathan Estruth: “P&G has been looking at MDVIP for a year now and during that time, it has become very clear to us that they have created a unique and very compelling health care services model. This partnership creates value for both companies by leveraging our individual strengthsMDVIP was founded in 2000 and has more than 50,000 patients and 136 affiliated doctors in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Jacuzzi files Apollo deal documents plans Jan. 25 shareholder vote

WEST PALM BEACH —Jacuzzi Brands Inc. said Friday that it has filed disclosure documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission outlining the company’s proposed sale to Apollo Management L.P.The company announced in October that Apollo, a New York private investment firm, offered shareholders $12.50 a share for the company, best known for spas and a variety of plumbing fixtures. Shareholders will vote on the deal at a special meeting to be held on Jan. 25 in West Palm Beach.The disclosure documents outline why the Jacuzzi board is favoring the deal. Shareholders have sued to stop the deal, arguing that the company is worth more than what Apollo is offering.Also during the meeting, shareholders will elect directors and ratify Ernst & Young as the company’s auditor.

Worker confidence dips slightly in December but ends year higher

FORT LAUDERDALE — Despite a small dip in December, the confidence level of U.S. workers ended the year at a slightly higher level than when it began, according to Spherion’s monthly Employee Confidence Index. More.

Applica delays shareholder meeting

MIRAMAR — As expected, Applica Inc. said Thursday that it will reconvene its special meeting on Jan. 10 for shareholders to vote on a $7.75 per share buyout offer from Harbinger Capital Partners.Harbinger made the offer Wednesday, countering a similar offer from hostile suitor Nacco Industries Ltd. of Cleveland. Nacco and Applica originally agreed to a deal at $6 a share but Applica broke off the arrangement in September. Nacco since has pursed Applica aggressively, increasing its per share offer four times. Applica’s board, however, is backing Harbinger’s offer. Harbinger already owns 40 percent of Applica.Applica is best known for making kitchen appliances under the Black and Decker label. A division of Nacco makes kitchen appliances under the Hamilton Beach and Procter Silex names. Harbinger owns two hedge funds.

Harbinger Capital, Nacco Industries once againup offers for Applica

MIRAMAR — Hostile suitor Nacco Industries increased its per share offer for kitchen appliance firm Applica for the fourth time since early December Wednesday, this time to $7.75. Preferred suitor Harbinger Capital Partners, which already owns 40 percent of Applica matched the bid. The offer forced Applica to postpone a shareholder vote on the Harbinger offer until Jan. 10.

Lennar Corp. to post quarter loss

MIAMI — Home builder Lennar Corp. says it will post its first quarterly loss in a decade later this month. The loss is expected to range between 88 cents a share to as high as $1.28. The company is scheduled to report on Jan. 17..

Seminole Tribe, Rank Group sued for colluding over Hard Rock deal

Cordish Co., an unsuccessful bidder for the Hard Rock chain, is suing the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Rank Group Plc. for collusion. The tribe is buying Hard Rock from the Rank Group for nearly $1 billion.

Shareholder suits plummet nationally, but rise in South Florida

MIAMI — Shareholder suits in federal court against companies for fraud dropped by 38 percent in 2006 , largely because of stricter federal enforcement and a stable stock market, according to a report released Tuesday by the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse.The number is the lowest ever recorded by the Stanford clearinghouse. However, suits against South Florida companies actually increased. More.

Employers see improving market for workers compensation insurance

BOCA RATON — Florida is no longer among the top five states when it comes to workers comp insurance rates, and likely has dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in years. More.

archived Jan. 15, 2007


AT&T gets FCC approval to complete $86 billion BellSouth deal

The Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to approve AT&T's bid to buy BellSouth, the main phone service provider in Florida. AT&T on Thursday offered a package of consumer concessions in order to gain the approval of two Democratic commission members who had held out voting on the deal.

AT&T offers compromises to break FCC deadlock on BellSouth deal

AT&T is offering new consumer protections as part of its $86 billion bid for BellSouth. The FCC, which must approve the deal, is deadlocked, with two Republicans favoring the deal and two Democrats holding out for concessions from AT&T. A third Republican on the five-member panel is abstaining.

Consumer confidence rises, Conference Board reports

Consumer confidence increased nearly 4 points in December as perceptions about the present and future economies improved, according to the Conference Board’s monthly report.The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose to 109 from 105.3 in November. The present situation index increased to 129.9 from 125.4. The expectations index improved to 95.1 from 91.9 last month."Despite the latest improvement in the index, there is little to suggest that the pace of economic activity in the final quarter of 2006 is anything but moderately better than its uninspiring performance earlier this year,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s consumer research center. “Given the see-saw pattern in recent months, it is too soon to tell if this boost in confidence is a genuine signal that better times are ahead."

Housing market continues slide

The market for used homes continued to tumble in November, according to the Florida Association of Realtors' monthly sales report.FAR reported 11,912 homes sold statewide in November compared with 17,088 a year ago. The median price dropped 3 percent, to $242,500 from $250,400 a year ago.In South Florida, the drop ranged from mild in Miami-Dade to severe in Palm Beach County. In Miami-Dade, the number of used homes sold in November dropped to 645 from 699 a year ago, and the median price dropped 2 percent to $372,400 from $381,600 a year ago.In Palm Beach, however, only 525 homes changed hands compared to 952 a year ago, a 43 percent drop. The median price dropped to $370,400 from $421,500. Broward sales dropped to 605 from 788, while the median price dropped to $362,000 from $391,100, a 7 percent decline from a year ago.

Nacco continues hostile bid for Miramar-based Applica Inc.

MIRAMAR — Say one thing about Nacco Industries Ltd. It doesn’t take no for an answer.The Cleveland-based company on Wednesday, for the third time this month upped its per share bid for kitchen appliance company Applica Inc of Miramar to $7.50.Harbinger Capital Partners, which already owns 40 percent of Applica, matched the offer. Applica’s board endorsed the offer.Applica is set to hold a shareholders’ meeting Thursday to vote on the Harbinger offer. However, the company said the meeting will be convened as scheduled but will be adjourned until Jan. 4 to allow shareholders time to evaluate the new offer.Applica, which is best known for making kitchen appliances under the Black and Decker label, agreed to a $6 a share offer from Nacco in July. Applica called off the deal in September, and accepted an offer from Harbinger. Earlier this month, Nacco increased its offer to $6.50 a share and then to $7; each time, Harbinger matched it.Nacco, which makes kitchen appliances under the Procter Silex and Hamilton Beach brands, is suing Applica in Delaware court.  

Nacco ups offer for Applica; Harbinger Capital matches it

MIRAMAR — The game of bid-counter bid between Nacco Industries of Cleveland and hedge fund manager Harbinger Capital Partners over kitchen appliance maker Applica Inc. continued Friday, with Applica’s shareholders the clear winner.Nacco, which has been pursuing Applica since July, upped its per-share offer for the company to $7 only to see Harbinger match the offer. Harbinger already owns 40 percent of Applica.Applica originally agreed to a deal with Nacco for $6 a share only to back out of it in September, favoring instead an offer from Harbinger. Earlier this month, Nacco upped the offer to $6.50 a share, which Harbinger matched.Applica shareholders are scheduled to vote on the richer Harbinger offer next week.Applica makes kitchen appliance under the Black and Decker brand among others. Nacco has a kitchen appliance division, which has the Hamilton Beach and Procter Silex labels.

Yes, Virginia, Florida does grow Christmas trees — a few at least

It’ll never rival tourism, citrus or even biotechnology as a major source of income in the state, but Florida does have a Christmas Tree industry.“There may be 100 or so growers,” says Terrence McElroy of the Florida Department of Agriculture. “It’s not nearly as big as the big Christmas Tree states like North Carolina." More.

Jobless rate rises in Florida

The slowdown in construction pushed the statewide jobless rate for November up slightly over the October rate, according to Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation.The agency reported the statewide rate increased to 3.3 percent in November from 3.1 percent in October but still down from the 3.5 percent a year ago. By comparison, the national rate for the month was 4.5 percent.In South Florida, Miami-Dade saw its rate fall substantially, to 3.7 percent from 4.2 percent in October and 4.0 percent a year ago. In Broward, however, the rate rose slightly, to 3.0 from 2.8 percent in October, but still down from the 3.5 percent posted a year ago.In Palm Beach County, it was the same story as Broward, with the rate rising to 3.3 percent from 3.2 percent in October but below the 3.8 percent a year ago.While the statewide rate is seasonally adjusted, the county rates are not, making the month-over-month comparison somewhat meaningless. However, holiday hiring combined with tourism normally would push unemployment rates downward.

Consumers spent more in Nov.

Consumer spending grew in November by .5 percent, or $50.5 billion, compared to .3 percent in October, the Commerce Department reported Friday.However, personal income grew by only .3 percent, or $33.8 billion, compared to .3 percent in October and savings declined to -$95 billion from -71 billion in October.Wages increased by $18.2 billion in November compared to $26.6 billion in October.

Nacco loses court bid to halt Applica shareholder vote

MIRAMAR — Applica Inc. said Thursday that a federal court judge in Ohio has denied Nacco industries’ bid to stop Harbinger Capital Partner’s buyout bid.Nacco, which is making a hostile bid for Applica, on Monday sued the Mirarmar-based kitchen appliance company to stop a shareholder vote on Harbinger Capital’s competing bid. Both companies are offering to pay $6.50 a share for the company, but Harbinger already owns about 40 percent of Applica.A vote on the Harbinger bid is set for next week.Nacco, which owns the Hamilton Beach and Procter Silex brands, had agreed to buy Applica, best known for making appliances under the Black and Decker lable, for $6 a share this summer. Applica later broke off the deal, accepting Harbinger’s counter offer.Nacco sued Applica in Delaware state court. Earlier this month, it upped its offer to $6.50 a share before suing Monday in federal court. The Delaware suit remains pending.

SEC sues former Tyco execs over allegedly bogus accounting

NEW YORK — The Securities and Exchange Commission is suing three former high-ranking Tyco International executives, charging that they designed and used a series of fraudulent accounting schemes that falsely boosted the company’s bottom line by hundreds of million of dollars.Named in the suit are: Richard D. Power, 58, of Palm Beach County; Edward Federman, 53, of Boca Raton; and Richard J. “Skip” Heger, 61, of Boca Raton. More.

Regulators OK homeowners rate hike for USAA customers

TALLAHASSEE — The cost of homeowners insurance is going up for USAA customers.On Thursday, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation announced that it had improved a 16.3 percent rate hike for United Services Automobile Association and USAA Casualty Insurance Co., insurers who specialize in covering military personnel, retired military and their families.The companies originally requested an average statewide increase of 40 percent.  Following a public hearing on Sept. 26 and after receiving a notice of the state’s intent to disapprove their filing, the companies lowered their overall rate requests to 16.3 percent.  State regulators cited a number of problems with the original filing, including USAA’s use of an outdated computer model in its calculations. “While the rate I approved is far less than what the company originally requested, I am fully aware that it is still going to have a significant impact on the pocketbooks of USAA’s policyholders,” said Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.  “However, the filing has been rigorously reviewed, and it is fully justified.”

The approved rate changes are effective Feb. 08.

Personal income for Floridians grew 1.6 percent during the 3rd quarter

WASHINGTON — Personal income in Florida increased 1.6 percent during the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Wednesday.Personal income for the nation grew by 1.4 percent during the quarter. Washington state had the highest increase at 2.6 percent thanks to the exercising of stock options held by information technology workers. Florida ranked 10th, lifted by increasing wages paid professional workers and government payments.

Floridians had total personal income of $10.2 billion of which $4.5 billion came from earnings, $3.6 from dividends, interest and rent and $2.1 billion from transfer payments. The Southwest, boosted by a still-strong housing industry and mining, had the highest increase of any region.

Allstate to drop Carolina customers

Allstate Insurance Corp. is dropping 16,000 homeowners policies in North and South Carolina as a way of reducing its hurricane exposure. The company is also decided not to sell new policies in coastal Virginia and Maryland. Over the past two years, Allstate has dropped 250,000 policies in Florida. In 2005, Allstate paid $5.67 billion in catastrophe claims; through nine months this year, the company has earned $3.8 billion.

FPL Energy buys Wisconsin nuclear power plant for nearly $1 billion

JUNO BEACH — FPL Energy, a subsidiary of FPL Group, said Wednesday it has reached an agreement to buy the two-unit, 1,033-megawatt Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant near Two Rivers, Wis., for about $998 million.Two Rivers is about 30 miles southeast of Green Bay. Wisconsin Electric Power Co., a subsidiary of Wisconsin Energy Corp., is the seller.The $998 million price includes $783 million for the plant itself and $215 million for fuel, inventory and other items.

FPL Energy will assume management and operation of Point Beach from Nuclear Management Co.FPL Energy expects to close the deal in the third quarter of 2007, pending state and federal regulatory approvals. The company owns the Duane Arnold nuclear plant in Iowa, the Seabrook plant in New Hampshire, plus nuclear plants in Turkey Point and St. Lucie.

Citrix Systems buys technology firm; financial terms not disclosed

cirix logoFORT LAUDERDALE — Citrix Systems Inc. is buying privately held Ardence Inc. of Waltham, ass., for an undisclosed sum. Ardence makes systems that allow remote access to a company’s main computers and programs.Ardence, founded in 1980, has 100 employees and more than  3,000 customers, including Time Warner Cable, Dow Corning, Hollywood Video, Boeing, Raytheon,, U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy.The deal is subject to various standard closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2007.

Ardence is expected to add about $15 million to $18 million in revenue in 2007 and is expected to have little or no effect on earnings per share.

Brookwood Financial sells New World Tower for $60.4 million

MIAMI — Brookwood Financial Partners L.P. said Wednesday that it has has sold Miami’s New World Tower to 100 NW, LLC, an affiliate of Panther Real Estate Partners and Westbrook Partners, for $60.4 million.Brookwood bought the property in December 2003 from NWT Partners Ltd. for $43.5.New World Tower is a 30-story office building, with about 270,000 square feet of office and telecommunication space, and an attached 12-story, 396-car parking garage. The property is located on Biscayne Boulevard opposite Bayfront Park.Brookwood Chief Operating Officer Eve M. Trkla said the company bought New World Tower at a time when the  condominium market was at its height, overshadowing the market for office space. Now, the Miami office market is at a peak, making it an optimal time to sell.The sale of New World Tower is Brookwood’s eleventh in South Florida. Brookwood’s total South Florida portfolio consisted of 12 properties totaling 2.0 million square feet of office, retail and residential real estate. Brookwood’s last South Florida holding, 9350 Financial Centre in Miami, is under contract to be sold.

FPL wins state approval to build power plant near West Palm Beach

florida power and light logoThe Florida Cabinet voted 4-0 Tuesday to allow Florida Power & Light to build a gas-fired power plant near Twenty-mile bend west of West Palm Beach. The plant, to be built at a cost of $1.2 billion, will have 2,400 megawatts in generating capacity, enough to light nearly 500,000 homes. The site at one point was believed to be targeted by Wal-Mart for a distribution center.

State OKs smaller Allstate rate hikes

TALLAHASSEE  — Allstate has gotten the state’s OK to hike homeowners insurance rates. But not quite in the amount it originally wanted.

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on Tuesday approved 8.2 percent hikes for the company’s two Florida-only subsidiaries. The new rates go into effect on Feb. 11.Allstate Floridian and Allstate Indemnity originally requested average statewide increases of 22.5 and 33.2 percent, respectively.  Following a public hearing on Nov. 2, the company lowered the rate requests to 19.1 percent for Allstate Floridian and to 26.4 percent for Allstate Indemnity. OIR cited problems with Allstate’s original and revised filings, including charging customers for reinsurance the company had not yet bought, using any unexpected revenue gains to pay agents and increasing its expense ratio even though it is cutting 240,000 policies.“There was little or no support for numerous aspects of this rate hike in both the original filing and in the amended filing,” Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty said, “and the responses we received at the public hearing were not much better.  However these filings reflect rates that the office determined were justified.” Allstate Floridian last increased its rates by a statewide average of 16.3 percent and Allstate Indemnity last increased its rates by a statewide average of 24.4 percent in October 2005.

Nacco Industries sues Applica again over their failed merger attempt

MIRAMAR — The battle for kitchen appliance maker Applica Inc. got a little hotter Tuesday, as jilted suitor Nacco Industries of Cleveland filed suit in federal court in an attempt to block a rival from taking over the company.It’s the second  time in the last two months that Nacco has sued Applica over their failed merger attempt.Meanwhile, Applica said it has sent out letters to shareholders urging them to reject Nacco’s hostile bid of $6.50 a share and instead vote to sell the company to Harbinger Capital Partners, which is also offering $6.50 a share. Harbinger already owns about 40 percent of Applica.Nacco, among other things, makes kitchen appliances under the Hamilton Beach and Procter Silex brands. Applica’s best known label is Black and Decker.  Last July, Applica’s board agreed to a sale of the company to Nacco for $6 a share. Nacco also would pick up Applica’s debt, making the deal worth about $160 million.Applica broke off the deal in October, going instead with a matching offer from Harbinger. Nacco sued in Delaware state court, then upped its per share offer for the company by 50 cents.Applica shareholders are scheduled to vote on Harbinger's offer on Dec. 28.

McDowell won't vote; FCC stalemate on AT&T-BellSouth deal continues

It appears the Federal Communications Commission will remain deadlocked on the AT&T's $85 million deal for BellSouth at least for the foreseeable future. The FCC is split along party lines, with the two Republican members willing to approve the deal, while the two Democrats want more consumer protections built into the deal. Robert McDowell, a fifth member and a Republican, is abstaining.

Judge penalizes two men for fraud scheme involving two penny stocks

MIAMI — A federal court judge has hit two penny stock investors with financial penalties totaling about $2 million for their roles in manipulating the shares of two Pink Sheet companies, including one based in Boca Raton.Judge William Zloch orderd Donald Oehmke of Kalamazoo, Mich., to cough up $1.1 million in illegal profits, $101,000 in pre-judgment penalties and $250,000 in fines for manipulating shares of Concorde America of Boca Raton and a North Carolina company called Absolute Health.Zloch ordered Bryan Kos of Montreal to pay to surrender $500,000 in illegal profits, 29,000 in pre-judgment interest and $120,000 in fines for his role in manipulating the same stocks.The Securities and Exchange Commission sued both men last February, alleging that they had issued unauthorized and false press releases for the two companies in order to boost demand for the shares. Oehmke, according to the SEC, made nearly $21 million from the scheme; Kos nearly $7 million.Concorde supposedly recruited Latin American workers for European companies. Absolute Health owned fitness clubs.In one case, Concorde issued a press release claiming that it had a contract to supply Spain with 200,000 workers. Concorde at the time had no operations and could not fulfill such a contract even if it wanted to, according to the SEC’s lawsuit.

Carnival exercises option for ship

MIAMI — Carnival Corp. said Monday that it has exercised an option to build a 130,000-ton ship for its Carnival Cruise Lines brand.Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri will build the new vessel, which will have 3,652 lower passenger berths, for about 565 million euros, or $687 million. The ship is scheduled for delivery in summer 2010.The ship will be a sister ship to a previously announced 130,000-ton vessel slated to enter service in fall 2009 that will begin a new class for the line. The two ships will be the largest ever constructed for Carnival.Carnival Cruise Lines now has four new ships on order or under construction with Fincantieri.Corporate-wide, Carnival Corp. now has 19 new ships on order, of which Fincantieri is building 13.

Tourism spending falls, tighter airport security measures blamed

WASHINGTON — Real tourism spending declined at an annualized rate of 1.7 percent during the third quarter most likely because of tighter airport security measures, the Commerce Department announced Thursday.It was the first decline in real spending since the third quarter of 2002.According to the Commerce Department report, spending on air travel declined 11.6 percent during the third quarter after rising 11.6 percent during the second quarter. Spending for traveler accommodations also fell.The report notes that stricter security measures concerning carry-on items were put in place during the second week of August, likely contributing to the decline in air travel.The report also notes that while tourism declined during the quarter, the overall economy grew at a 2.2 percent annual rate.Tourism employment grew at 0.1 percent during the second quarter, compared with 1.8 percent for the economy as a whole.