Humana shares spike

A graphic of Humana's stock chart for July 10 and 11, 2019

A stock chart of Humana for the last two days. | Courtesy of Yahoo! Finance.

Humana shares have risen more than 7% in the last two days after getting a boost from a credit rating agency.

Shares of Humana rose 3% on Wednesday and were up more than 4% at 1 p.m. Thursday, trading for nearly $279. Shares had risen nearly $19 since Tuesday’s close.

Oldwick, N.J.-based credit rating agency AM Best had said that it revised its outlook for Humana and the majority of its subsidiaries from stable to positive. It also affirmed the credit rating.

The agency said that it revised its outlook based on Humana’s strong earnings, “balance sheet strength … adequate operating performance, favorable business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management.”

AM Best also downgraded the credit rating of the Humana Puerto Rico subsidiary, in part because of continued losses and “marginal operating performance.”

Shares of Humana are still down for the year though. Insider reported in mid-April that the company’s share price had fallen more than $100 since early November, lowering the market cap of Humana by nearly $14 billion. At the time, shares traded near $250. They have risen nearly 12% since then. 

The Louisville-based insurer will release second-quarter results on July 31. —Boris Ladwig

KentuckyOne: Talks continue

A photo of the Jewish Hospital exterior

Jewish Hospital. | Photo by Tony Pacheco

KentuckyOne Health told Insider that discussions about a sale of its Louisville facilities, including Jewish Hospital, are continuing, but that it has set no new deadline for concluding a deal.

The health system has been trying to sell nine facilities in Louisville since May 2017. Formerly exclusive negotiations with alternative asset management firm BlueMountain Capital Management have not resulted in a deal, though KentuckyOne told Insider via email this week that it remains in discussions “with BlueMountain and other interested organizations.”

Sources told Insider in September that the deal to save the hospital was in trouble and that affected parties were preparing for the facility’s closure. KentuckyOne officials said at the time that they had no plans to close the facility, which together with related properties, is losing more than $1 million per week. The 462-bed downtown facility employs thousands and takes care of tens of thousands of patients, many of them on Medicare and Medicaid.

The University of Louisville this year tried to find a partner to acquire the properties, primarily to save Jewish Hospital, which serves as a staging area for many School of Medicine-related functions. UofL abandoned that effort last month. Both university and KentuckyOne officials are now saying that they have no current plans to close the facility, though health experts have told Insider that they believe the facility’s closure is but a matter of time.

KentuckyOne had hoped to finalize a sale of the properties by June 30, but after UofL’s departure said it wouldn’t meet that deadline.

A spokesman for the health system told Insider this week that the process “will take additional time and no firm deadline has been set.” —Boris Ladwig

Spalding names long-time faculty as next provost

John Burden | Courtesy of Spalding

Spalding University named a long-time faculty member as its new provost, the private school announced Tuesday.

John Burden, who was an associate provost, became the school’s chief academic officer at the start of the month after being selected this spring. He succeeds Joanne Berryman, who retired from the role after three years.

“(Burden) is highly respected by our faculty and brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the position,” Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said in a news release. “Dr. Burden is a great teacher who understands the goals and dreams of both our faculty and our students as well as the day-to-day challenges they face.”

Before becoming an associate provost for the past year, Burden was an associate dean of the natural sciences college. He taught for 20 years prior to that.

Berryman will remain at the school as a consultant, according to a news release. —Olivia Krauth

City approves loans for 16 small businesses

The first half of 2019 has seen 16 businesses being approved for loans totaling $1.25 million by the Louisville Metro Government’s Department of Economic Development and Office of Resilience and Community Services, the city announced.

The loans leverage total business investments of more than $1.7 million, helping small businesses to open, expand services and renovate properties, according to a news release.

Metropolitan Business Development Corporation loans include a $44,743 loan for Bourbon Barrel Foods to purchase a special smoker to increase food production; a $100,000 loan for Mandala House to expand its offices, and several loans of $50,000 and $100,000 to businesses for various property renovations.

METCO loans are evaluated based on project cost and fund availability, with a variety of interest rates depending on the loan program, according to the release.

In addition, some of the Microbusiness Development Program loans include $5,000 Spark loans to a variety of small companies, from Xtreme Carpet Cleaning to Malone Step-N-Dance Company.

These loans help low- and moderate-income business owners who need capital and may have little or no access to the commercial banking sector. —Kevin Gibson

Industrial market continues the trend of positive absorption

CRBE graph

The Louisville industrial real estate market recorded nearly 300,000 square feet of positive net absorption in the second quarter, making it the 17th consecutive quarter with positive absorption, according to a report from CBRE.

Several large gains led to an increased vacancy, the report shows, but investment activity remained strong, with major sales of industrial space such as a 426,000-square-foot distribution warehouse for $25.6 million to Tratt Properties LLC.

In total, investment sales are up 26% by total dollar volume through the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2018. In fact, CBRE’s study shows the total investment sales dollar volume of $139 million so far this year is only 13% behind the full total for 2018.

“Tenants are still very active and we expect the trend of positive absorption to continue,” Kevin Grove, senior vice president for CBRE, said in a news release. “As we saw this quarter, investors see Louisville as a very strong market, and with new product delivering, there will be more investment grade opportunities in the near future.”—Kevin Gibson

Veterans program shuts down, is absorbed by USA Cares

Where Opportunity Knox, a program to help veterans find jobs in Louisville, has shut down after two years of operation in the area.

The organization’s Senior Leaders Corporate Fellowship Program placed senior military leaders, in the early stages of their transition to a civilian career, in an intern role at a corporate partner four days a week during an eight-week program.

The program has been absorbed into USA Cares, a nonprofit organization that addresses the critical needs of post-9/11 service members and their families by providing them with financial and advocacy support in times of crisis.

“We hope to leverage the great work this program has achieved to date and continue to grow the program and its overall impact,” said Hank Patton, president and CEO of USA Cares, in a news release.

“This program is a great fit for our organization, as one facet of our preexisting Career Transition program provides individuals with tools and resources to better prepare them for the hiring process, and refers qualified candidates to corporate organizations with open positions of employment specific to their skillsets,” Patton added.

Where Opportunity Knox also offered Employer Showcases, which took groups of veterans to local employers trying to recruit veterans for employment.

USA Cares will also adopt this program, said Aubrey Gonzalez, spokeswoman for USA Cares. “We adopted the (Senior Leaders) from Where Opportunity Knox back in January 2019, and since then, have seen great success with graduates of the Senior Leaders Corporate Fellowship program obtaining post-service careers throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. We have plans in the works to continue the Employer Showcases.”—Lisa Hornung

In Brief

Over the holiday weekend, Carmichael’s Bookstore joined dozens of other bookstores around the country to help raise money for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), which is working diligently at the U.S.-Mexico border. Carmichael’s raised more than $3,000 for the organization, and the nationwide total was only $1,000 short of the $50,000 goal.

Sullivan University announced that it would offer an associate degree program in community health services in the fall.