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Mergers and Acquisitions Activity Increases in South Florida
Posted On October 17, 2013 Posted By: admin

Mergers and Acquisitions Activity Increases in South Florida

In another sign that economic activity is picking up in South Florida, the Mergers and Acquisitions index has been revving up its engine. The South Florida Business Journal reports that:

Merger and acquisition deals have doubled in Florida in the first nine months of 2013, according to a report from Mergermarket Group.

There was $29.4 billion in M&A announced in the last nine months, up from $13.9 billion in a same period a year ago. The largest category this year is pharmaceutical/medical/biotech at 30 percent. Mergers for financial services, industrial/chemicals, consumer products, telecom, business services and real estate companies also increased.

However, merger activity declined for technology and leisure companies.

The biggest deal involving a South Florida company in the third quarter was Davie-based Mako Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ: MAKO) selling to Stryker Corp. (NYSE: SYK) for $1.65 billion.

This is the most merger activity in Florida since 2007, according to Mergermarket.

Increased M&A activity is a welcomed sign in South Florida. The economy is starting to go through that “inflection point” where it will change from a slow tepid flow, to a high-sloping line with significant benefits to the overall population.

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South Florida Unemployment Rises Slightly in June
Posted On July 25, 2013 Posted By: admin

South Florida Unemployment Rises Slightly in June

This is the first downtick in the last several months. It is nothing of concern since the way up is never a straight line. In the month of June the South Florida Unemployment rate actually increased. It is still far better than what it was a year ago.

South Florida’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent in June, but is significantly lower than the 9.1 percent rate a year ago.

Florida’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged, at 7.1 percent, in June, down 1.7 percentage points from 8.8 percent a year ago. The state’s May and June 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 9,300 jobs from May.

Florida jobless rate was less than the nation’s 7.6 percent unemployment rate.

The employed workforce in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties lost 22,058 jobs from May to June, according to state data. The labor force also shrank to 2.95 million people from 2.97 million. During the last 12 months, the region added 33,935 jobs overall, and decreased its unemployment rate by 1.5 percentage points.

Miami-Dade lost 16,285 jobs in June, while its non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points, month-over-month, to 9 percent. That number is 1.1 percentage points lower than the jobless rate one year ago. The county’s labor force also lost 14,715 workers in June.

Broward’s unemployment rate increased 0.3 percentage points, to 6.1 percent, in June. That number is significantly less than what it was a year ago, at 7.8 percent. The county lost 1,757 jobs from May to June, while its labor force grew by 1,228 workers.

Palm Beach also saw a month-over-month increase in its jobless rate – to 7.5 percent in June from 7 percent in May – but was down from last year’s 9.2 percent. The county lost 4,016 jobs between May and June, according to state data. The county’s labor force lost 1,022 workers in June.

 

These ups and downs are to be expected. What is important is to look at the overall trend. As every other business here in South Florida we hope this is not the beginning of a downward trend but just the natural process of that upward trend that we have been enjoying for the past few months.

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Florida Consumer Confidence Increases 4 Months in a Row
Posted On July 5, 2013 Posted By: admin

Florida Consumer Confidence

We have been observing and reporting an array of improved economic metrics throughout the last few months.  We are now reporting that Florida Consumer Confidence is on the rise as well. It is a critical one because the Retail Industry drives about 70% of our economy, and there is a strong correlation between consumer confidence and spending.

Consumer confidence among Floridians rose another point in June to 82, according to a University of Florida survey.

This is the fourth straight month of increases for a post-recession high.

“The increase in our index for June is so far led by a relatively large increase in perceptions of personal finances,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “There are several reasons for this increase, but the stock market gains for the first part of June certainly played a role in that. It’s worth noting that perceptions of current buying conditions are at a post-recession high of 93.

“The last time it reached this level was April of 2007 when it was 97. This was the beginning of the collapse in the housing market.”

Perceptions of personal finances now compared to a year ago rose three points to 70 while expectations of personal finances a year form now stayed flat at 82.

Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year rose two points to 83 while expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years rose a point to 83. Perceptions as to whether it is a good time to buy big-ticket items such as a car or large appliance rose two points to 93.

“For now consumers are still not registering any fears about the effects of sequestration,” said McCarty. “Most are concerned by the possibility of a rise in interest rates as the Federal Reserve signaled it may reduce its intervention, specifically by reducing the amount of Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities it purchases totaling $85 billion each month.”

Concerns over this move is likely over-stated for two reasons, McCarty said.

First, the Fed is unlikely to reduce the purchases to zero but will likely gradually reduce the effort. If the economy shows signs of weakness the Fed will resume the intervention, he added.

It is also worth noting that conditions are not the same as they were in 2008 when quantitative easing began, he said. While the housing market is certainly helped by lower interest rates, there had been a low rate of building and an increase in population, leading to pent-up demand.

Housing prices may decline from their recent highs, but the underlying quality of loans is now very different from 2008. Recent buyers have good credit scores and typically put 20 percent down on their homes. This means that we will not see the massive foreclosures that led to the last recession, McCarty said.

“The Fed has seen the economy through dangerous economic times, but the economy is now operating normally. There was nothing normal about 2008,” he said.

Now that we are living in the “new normal”, things are slowly but surely improving. It is encouraging and gratifying to see most economic indicators improving.

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Chinese Business Opportunities for South Florida
Posted On June 27, 2013 Posted By: admin

Chinese Business Opportunities

Just like any business venture, doing a thorough due diligence is absolutely critical to success. It is no different with doing business in China. Many a business hear of the great riches that await in China and launch without much of a business plan or researching the local culture, business environment, or available resources. Alysha Khan and Doreen Hemlock state that:

To succeed in business with China involves doing your homework, building trust with Chinese partners — and often drinking lots of alcohol.

That was some of the advice offered by a panel of China experts at a seminar Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, sponsored by HSBC Bank and organized by the South Florida Business Journal.

Panelists said too many U.S. companies fail in China because they don’t do their research and refuse to get on a plane to learn first-hand how the Chinese market works. They also don’t spend the time needed to build relationships with Chinese partners — which often means dinners with many drinks.

“The Chinese are not going to buy from you just because you have a fantastic product,” said Lawrence A. Freeman, chairman of Global Investment Business Advisors of Miami and a three-decade veteran in China business. “They’re not going to buy from you unless they know you and trust you.”

South Florida companies now do all kinds of business with the Asian giant, from contracting at Chinese factories to selling scrap metals and even arranging for Chinese investors to move to the United States.

One sign of these growing ties is trade.

South Florida’s direct trade with China rose almost 9 percent last year, to $6.2 billion. Most of this trade involved imports of computers and high-tech goods — including some goods that were later sold to Latin America, according to U.S. trade data analyzed by WorldCity of Coral Gables.

Florida-China trade is forecast to rise farther still, after the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015 brings larger ships from Asia to U.S. East Coast seaports, said Ken Roberts, president of WorldCity.

Local companies can cash in on the growing transport links by boosting their exports to China. Beijing’s latest five-year economic plan puts less emphasis on China’s exports and savings and more focus on Chinese consumer spending — a push that encourages imports, said Stephen Zhao, who runs the China desk for commercial banking at HSBC Bank USA in New York.

Born in China, Zhao offered a glimpse into the speed of change in the nation of 1.3 billion people, which began opening its tightly controlled market to the world in 1978.

Zhao recalled that more than 30 years ago, a typical birthday present was a boiled egg that a child would share with his siblings. Now, it’s more likely to be a birthday party in a restaurant with friends and, of course, a birthday cake.

“Imagine 1.3 billion birthday cakes,” Zhao said, underscoring opportunities for Florida sales in the country that now has the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese tourism also holds promise for South Florida as China’s fast-growing middle class travels more overseas, said Anly Liu, chief executive of Oriental Logistics Miami and president of the Florida-China Chamber of Commerce.

A Chinese group is now financing a more than $3 billion resort on Nassau in the Bahamas, and more than 5,000 Chinese workers are helping build the mega-project. If the resort can’t be filled with U.S. vacationers, developers likely will bring in Chinese travelers, said Barry Brant, a partner in the South Florida accounting firm Berkowitz Pollack Brant.

“I think Miami can be a very good location for them to invest” once the Chinese are used to the Bahamas, Brant said. Some Chinese already are looking to invest in Florida hotels and offices, he said.

One local company trying to sell to China’s business class is Crefdi Realty Advisors of Delray Beach. It’s touting commercial real estate deals in South Florida and across the United States. No deal has closed yet, but several are in negotiations, company analyst Tingjun Chen said.

Chen was born in China and raised in the United States.

“We’re doing a lot of relationship-building now,” Chen said. “The Chinese have to know you and trust you, and being Chinese and speaking the language gives me an advantage.”

There are many great opportunities doing business with China, but to believe that it is an easy task would be to prepare to fail. Yes the opportunities are there, but just like any business venture, make sure you create a business plan, and do your research. After all, fortune favors the prepared mind.

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Wages Still Rising in South Florida
Posted On April 12, 2013 Posted By: admin

More good news South Florida. Whereas the rest of the country on average had their wage declined, South Florida’s increased year over year, and quarter over quarter. According to the South Florida Business Journal:

South Florida wage growth has again reached a new high in the first quarter, according to the PayScale Index.

Wages in the tri-county area jumped to a three-year high of 3.8 percent growth in the first quarter, compared to the same time last year, and 0.9 percent growth compared to the previous quarter.

The PayScale Index tracks the 20 largest metropolitan areas and reveals how much an employer pays a worker today, compared to last year, for the same job. It also shows how much employees can expect to earn in the same position compared to last year’s wages.

The increase in South Florida is largely driven by what is happening in the local economy, said PayScale Lead Economist Katie Bardaro. The South Florida real estate market, which was hit hard during the housing bust, contributed to the wage growth more so than any other industry, as people have become more confident and desire to buy a house, she added.

The finance and insurance industry, which includes accounting firms, venture capitalists and insurance agencies, also has not fared well in the past and saw significant improvement in the first quarter.

Many South Florida industries, hospitality, transportation, finance and real estate, were among those that have seen positive change, Bardaro said.

Nationally, wage growth declined 0.1 percent in the first quarter, compared to the prior quarter. The drop is fairly significant because it indicates that people are feeling uncertain about the economy, amid sequestration, she said.

The PayScale Index does not track public jobs since they are not necessarily driven by economic factors but more by policy, Bardaro said.

This increase in wage is actually a good sign for South Florida because it means the unemployed pool is getting small due to small businesses feeling more confident in the local economy. With the array of positive metrics that we have been observing lately it seems that it won’t be long before South Florida is back to its usual self.

Rick Case Thinking Big in Davie, FL
Posted On March 14, 2013 Posted By: admin

Rick Case drives so much business in the Weston / Davie area that the local business community always watches what he is doing. Well, his latest venture is a biggie. The South Florida Business Journal reports that:

Rick Case Automotive Group broke ground Wednesday on its Davie Volkswagen dealership, billed as the largest and tallest Volkswagen dealership in the world.

Stiles Construction expects to use a fast-track construction process. A grand opening is planned this fall, a news release said.

The 328,000-square-foot dealership will rise eight stories, featuring 1,000 new and used cars inside. It will open with 200 employees and grow to a staff of more than 300, the release said. Rick Case Automotive already has Honda, Hyundai and Fiat dealerships near the site of the planned VW dealership. It ranked 13th on the list of the Business Journal’s largest private companies, with $687.1 million in sales for 2011, up from 19th the previous year.

The scope of the project is huge and the speed of the expected date of completion is aggressive. This innovation in project management, and aiming high is so representative of South Florida. We are proud to be part of this community and seeing our local entrepreneurs shooting for the sky.

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South Florida Biotech
Posted On February 28, 2013 Posted By: admin

South Florida Biotech

South Florida has several areas of improvement. We recently talked about the improved real estate environment and how we are recovering faster than the national average. Here is some additional news that bauds well for the South Florida economic environment thanks to Biotech.

New data from University of Florida‘s Sid Martin Biotechnology incubator shows that Florida’s life science sector continues to grow at a faster pace than the nation’s.

Biotech deals grew by 27 percent in 2012, to 19 deals from 15 in the previous year, and venture capital dollars rose to $103.5 million, a 19 percent increase over 2011.

Separately, Palm Beach County said Monday it has a contract with Kolter Homes to develop the 800-acre Briger tract in Palm Beach Gardens, adjacent to Scripps Florida research institute in Jupiter. Besides housing, 170 acres is reserved for biotech that could include lab space, biotech companies, a teaching hospital and medical offices, said Shannon LaRocque, assistant county administrator.

“This is a milestone,” she said, saying the county’s vision was to build a cluster of development around Scripps.

Biotech investment in Florida still pales in comparison to other states in actual dollars, BioFlorida’s report says, but the percentage growth of funding is outpacing the national average. In 2012, there was a 13 percent decline in life science funding, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

 

In the analysis by the incubator and BioFlorida, the industry has grown more than 60 percent during the past five years — bringing the total number of biotechnology companies to 219. The nation’s biotechnology sector grew 5 percent over the same period, according to Ernst & Young and Nature Biotechnology.

The goal of venture capitalists is generally to sell a company or take it public to provide a return for investors. But that success also can mean a loss of jobs, as in the case of Envoy Therapeutics. Envoy originally moved to Jupiter to work with Scripps Florida, which screened compounds for potential drug development for Envoy. The company now is working on improved treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Last year, Envoy was acquired by San Diego-based Takeda in a $140 million deal that will move the company and its key staff to California.

Still, Envoy’s success has brought new business to Scripps, said Peter Hodder, who leads Scripps’ commercialization efforts. “It says ‘South Florida is a place where you can be successful.'”

In South Florida, the report notes Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, which opened its new $64 million center in Jupiter last fall, and Palm Beach State College’s biotechnology program have successfully placed most of its graduates into full-time employment.

Although South Florida is better known for its real estate and hospitality industries, it now can also count biotech as one of its fastest growing industries.

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South Florida Outpacing Its Regional Neighbors in Economic Recovery
Posted On February 20, 2013 Posted By: admin

South Florida is outpacing its regional peers in its economic recovery. Although we are far from having fully recovered, the trends and pace of recovery are very promising.

A new study shows South Florida is still distressed economically after the Great Recession hit five years ago, but the region is still better off than Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg.

In fact, Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg continue to have the most financially distressed households among the 30 largest metro areas in the nation, but South Florida, while the sixth most distressed, has shown almost as much economic improvement as the national average, according to the latest CredAbility Consumer Distress Index. The nonprofit credit counseling agency conducts the index nationally to survey how categories such as housing, employment and families’ savings rate are doing.

 

One of the biggest improvements for South Florida: The unemployment had dropped from 9.5 percent to 8.1 for Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties as a whole,  by the end of 2012, said Broc Rosser, Florida president for CredAbility, a nonprofit counseling agency.

“That’s a huge improvement,” he said.

South Floridians are also helping themselves by saving more, Rosser added. South Floridians are saving on average nearly 5 percent of their income, he said.

The main thorn in South Florida’s recovery is the three counties are still trying to emerge from the housing bust and the massive number of foreclosures that hit the region, Rosser said.

“Housing problems are the main cause of financial distress for households” in South Florida, said Scott Scredon, a spokesman for CredAbility. “While mortgage delinquency rates are coming down, they remain the highest in the nation.”

About 17 percent of South Florida homeowners were delinquent on mortgage payments from July to October of last year, Scredon said. Still, that’s a better rate than it was a year ago, he added.

All these positive signs will reinforce each other and result in an exponential improvement of the overall South Florida economy, including Weston. Let’s just keep on doing what we are doing South Florida and we’ll ultimately not only outpace our regional neighbors, but lead the way for the rest of the country.

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Fort Lauderdale Economy
Posted On February 5, 2013 Posted By: admin

Fort Lauderdale Economy

The Fort Lauderdale economy and Weston’s business environment have been more resilient to the past economic downturn compared to its regional neighbors such as Miami and its surrounding communities. Although Fort Lauderdale and Weston count Hospitality among their top industries, International commerce and technology are becoming the fastest growing ones. According to the City of Fort Lauderdale…

Fort Lauderdale has emerged as one of the fastest growing markets for global trade, with more than 40% of local businesses engaged in or supporting international commerce. The City remains at the forefront of South Florida’s emerging “Internet Coast,” a region that is home to more than 6,000 high technology firms.

A growing list of nationally-recognized corporations have established business operations in Fort Lauderdale with corporate or Latin American headquarters, including: AT&T, AutoNation, BankAtlantic, Citicorp, Citrix Systems, Galaxy Latin America, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft Latin America, Motorola Latin America, Republic Industries, South African Airways, Spherion Corporation, SportsLine.com, and Voicestream Wireless.

Ranking Fort Lauderdale as one of the “100 Best Places to Live
and Launch” a business, CNN/Money reported:

“. . . Fort Lauderdale has felt less impact (from the real estate market) thanthe regions in and around Miami. The hottest businesses here are a reflectionof the subtropical climate and locale. Pleasure boat construction and services are a major sector, while the tourism industry, in general, stays strong, thanks in large part to the Canadians and Europeans attracted to the weak dollar. What’s more, a 600,000-square-foot convention center plays host to trade shows that bring a variety of industrial leaders from all over the country in contact with local businesses. Besides the usual pleasures to be expected from a city by the sea (sun, surf, sailing and swimming), Fort Lauderdale offers a lively downtown, with museums, galleries, live music, theater and fine restaurants. And for sports-crazed fans, there are no less than seven pro teams to root for in the surrounding area.”

With no lack of reasons to start up a business in the Weston/Fort Lauderdale area, an Executive Suite is the perfect office space setting for a new business. Call us for more details.

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