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Monthly Archives: August 2013

FPL Leverages Technology for Efficiency
Posted On August 23, 2013 Posted By: admin

FPL Leverages Technology for Efficiency

Florida Power & Light (FPL) is becoming more efficient. It is a company that has always believed in processes and a very strong proponent of business philosophies such as Continuous Improvement and Six Sigma. This efficiency can come at a human cost and as a result it is planning on cutting positions that will no longer be needed due to these technological efficiencies. The South Florida Business Journal reports that:

Florida Power & Light and its sister company NextEra Energy Resources will cut 1,000 jobs from their current total of 15,000 positions over the next two years. The cuts are mostly due to more efficient technology.

The vast majority of the cuts will come from open positions or early retirement options, said FPL president Eric Silagy.

Some pink slips will be handed out to around 160 people over the next 26 months; half of those layoffs will occur next week.

“It’s not easy. None of these things are easy,” Silagy said in a phone interview. “We have a culture of continuous improvement. With all the dynamic changes in the marketplace and investments in technology, we felt it was time to look at everything and see what we can do better.”

Silagy said the number of Florida employees losing jobs through immediate layoffs was about 60.

The news was broken to employees in a large “town hall” style meeting. FPL and NextEra Energy Resources are owned by publicly traded NextEra Energy (NYSE: NEE).

In 2012, Fortune ranked FPL first overall among electric and gas utilities on its list of the World’s Most Admired Companies. Shares of NextEra were down in Wednesday trading. But shares rose $1.41, or 1.75 percent, to $82.19 cents in after market trading by 4:45 p.m.

Silagy said the layoffs are a result of greater efficiencies due to technology.

For example, FPL recently demolished several fuel oil power plants including Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Replacing the older plants are new natural gas-fired plants. The old plants required staff of 135; the new plants only require 38 people.

NextEra had studied overlap in jobs as part of its Project Momentum.

Silagy said no jobs were eliminated if they had any impact on safety or security, but some cuts were made at the company’s nuclear plants due to recent modernization projects.

“We won’t do anything to impact safety, or the kind of high reliability customers expect,” Silagy said.

Silagy acknowledged that most meter readers were also being eliminated as the company switches over to net metering – meters that are readable by remote technology. But he said those jobs were mostly temporary positions and wouldn’t count toward the 1,000 positions announced Wednesday.

“Over time these cuts will also help us grow and add more positions,” Silagy said.

FPL is a major Florida organization and ultimately its growth can only help the local businesses and consumers.

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South Florida’s Unemployment Rate Drops…Again
Posted On August 16, 2013 Posted By: admin

South Florida’s Unemployment Rate

In another sign that the economy is improving, and particularly here in South Florida, is the drop in Unemployment Rate, again! We have come a long way since a year ago. The South Florida Business Journal reports that:

South Florida’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 7.5 percent in July, an improvement over last year’s 9.1 percent.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged, at 7.1 percent, in July, down 1.6 percentage points from 8.7 percent a year ago. The past three month’s rates were the lowest since September 2008, when it was at 7 percent, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Nonagricultural employment reached 7.5 million in Florida last month, an increase of 27,600 jobs.

Florida’s jobless rate was 0.3 percentage points lower than the national rate, for the fifth consecutive month.

The employed workforce in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties gained 6,035 jobs from June to July, according to state data. The labor force lost 395 people and dropped to 2.95 million. During the last 12 months, the region added 33,430 jobs overall, and decreased its unemployment rate by 1.6 percentage points.

Miami-Dade added 3,897 jobs in July, while its non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped 0.6 percentage points, month-over-month, to 8.4 percent. That number is 1.3 percentage points lower than the jobless rate one year ago. The county’s labor force also lost 3,853 workers in July.

Broward’s unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage points, to 6.2 percent, in July. That number is less than what it was a year ago, at 8 percent. The county lost 1,057 jobs from June to July, while its labor force fell by 879 workers.

Palm Beach also saw a month-over-month increase in its jobless rate – to 7.7 percent in July from 7.6 percent in June – but was down from last year’s 9.6 percent. The county gained 3,105 jobs between June and July, according to state data. The county’s labor force lost 4,337 workers in July.

With the summer almost behind us, schools coming back in session, and the high season for retail just around the corner, we can certainly be accused of feeling optimistic for what lies ahead. These latest numbers are part of a positive trend that started a few months ago and has not shown any signs of slowing down.

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New Highs for South Florida Banks
Posted On August 9, 2013 Posted By: admin

New Highs for South Florida Banks

 

Well it seems like the financial crisis is well behind us. At least that is how our local banks made it feel like. Three of the largest South Florida banks’ stocks reached new highs. Brian Bandell reports that:

It was a record-setting day for South Florida bank stocks, with the three largest banks on the market hitting 52-week highs.

Miami Lakes-based BankUnited (NYSE: BKU), Coral Gables-based Capital Bank Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: CBF) and Boca Raton-based 1st United Bancorp (NASDAQ: FUBC) all announced their second quarter results before Wednesday’s surge at the market. The positive reaction by investors make it seem like hot times are here again for South Florida banking.

BankUnited boosted its net income to $54 million and impressed analysts with net growth of $910 million in its loan portfolio. The company’s shares hit a 52-week high of $29.99 before settling at $29.80 by the closing bell, still an increase of 90 cents, or 3.1 percent, on the day.

Capital Bank Financial nearly doubled its net income to $11.1 million. Its stock reached a 52-week high of $20.98 and ended up closing at $20.34, still a gain of 47 cents, or 2.4 percent, for the day.

After the market closed Tuesday, 1stUnited reported that its net income edged up to $1.8 million. Its stock hit a 52-week high of $7.72 on Wednesday before closing at $7.68, still up 3 cents on the day.

Although it’s no longer a bank, Fort Lauderdale-based BBX Capital Corp. (NYSE: BBX) reached a 52-week high of $15.18 before closing at $15.12, still up 43 cents on the day. It’s the former holding company for BankAtlantic and retains many of the bank’s old problem assets.

Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale-based Stonegate Bank (OTCBB: SGBK) was also flying high by closing up 24 cents to $18.99. That’s only a cent below its 52-week high on Monday.

Keep in mind that all of this occurred on a day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent.

Slowly but surely, one metric at a time we seem to get an overall feeling that South Florida not only stabilized from the financial crisis but it is also growing and doing so at an expeditious pace. Keep your eyes open for opportunities as they abound during these times.

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