Welcome to the Sept. 3 Monday Business Briefing, your weekly business intelligence digest from Insider Louisville.

Stock price gains for most local companies in August

Graphic by Boris Ladwig

Shares of most local companies, including the embattled Papa John’s, posted solid gains in August, as both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit highs.

Only four of 15 companies based in or with a significant presence in Louisville saw their stock price decline last month, and only two companies — Limestone Bancorp and Ford Motor Co. — had declines of more than 2 percent. Meanwhile, 11 companies recorded gains, with six seeing their stock price appreciate more than 5 percent.

For some of the biggest local gainers, August represented a turnaround.

Shares of Sypris Solutions, which had fallen 11 percent in July, rose 9.6 percent in August, with the bulk of that gain occurring in the first half of the month — or before the company said on Aug. 14 that second-quarter revenue rose 8.1 percent from a year earlier, and that it generated a profit of $814,000, compared to a $3.1 million loss from a year earlier.

Sypris, which manufactures parts for truck, oil and gas, aerospace and military sectors, also reaffirmed its revenue outlook for the second half of the year.

The company’s shares rose nearly 20 cents in the first half of the month, then remained near $1.60 before plunging 10 cents, or 6.1 percent, on Aug 29, though recovering most of that decline in the subsequent two days.

Papa John’s, the travails of which have been (and continue to be) reported in depth across the nation and especially here in Louisville, saw its shares rise nearly 10 percent in August — though, that’s on the heels of a 17.3 percent plunge in July that came after reports surfaced that founder John H. Schnatter had recently used a racial slur.

Texas Roadhouse shares rose 9.7 percent in August, more than making up for the 4.9 percent drop on the last day of July, after the company announced quarterly earnings.

Though the company had reported soaring profit (thanks in part to lower federal income taxes) and a revenue increase of more than 11 percent compared to a year earlier, investors worried about labor costs, which rose more than 14 percent.

Shares on Friday closed at $68.95.

Local distiller Brown-Forman, on the other hand, had recorded an 8.6 percent stock price spike in July — but had a 1.9 percent decline in August. Just last week, the company lowered its earnings forecast for the year as it doubts that international trade disputes will be resolved quickly.

Only two of 15 companies tracked by Insider reported share price declines in both July and August: Churchill Downs and Ford Motor Co.

Shares of Churchill Downs, which had gained more than 27 percent through the first half of the year, further appreciated in early July after reporting earnings on July 12. However, after shares closed at $308 on July 19, they fell sharply through the remainder of the month and ended July down 3.6 percent.

Shares fell nearly 3 percent on Aug. 1, closing at $277.90, after the company said that second-quarter revenue had increased 11.8 percent — but operating expenses had risen 12.2 percent. On Aug. 31, shares closed at $282.60, down 1.2 percent for the month.

Ford’s shares in July fell 9.3 percent and in August declined 5.6 percent. The automaker, Louisville’s second-largest employer, has not had a good summer. Shares traded above $12 in early June, but investors have moved away from the company over stalled NAFTA renegotiation, higher steel and aluminum prices and further worries about trade dispute escalations.

Shares fell nearly 3 percent on Friday after the company said it was abandoning plans to bring a Chinese-made vehicle into the U.S. market, in part because of the threat of higher tariffs. —Boris Ladwig

GLI more than halfway to its 2020 campaign fundraising goal

As of noon on Friday, Greater Louisville Inc. reported that it had raised 56 percent of its $7.5 million goal for the Greater Louisville 2020 Campaign.

The news comes less than a week after the Chamber of Commerce hosted 600 businesses at the newly renovated Kentucky International Convention Center for an event.

According to Alison Brotzge-Elder, GLI’s director of communications, this is the first campaign of its type in Louisville. Nashville and Austin chambers have had conducted similar economic development fundraising efforts, she noted.

The campaign has three stated goals: to recruit businesses and add jobs; recruit, grow and retain a workforce; and advocate for a strong business environment.

“The Greater Louisville region is in a heated competition with our peer cities. At stake is the future of our key businesses, jobs, and people,” the report noted.

GLI contracted with Barry Kornstein, an independent research consultant trained at MIT, to determine the collective impact such a campaign could have on the region, according to the Greater 2020 materials provided by GLI.

Kornstein estimated the campaign could have a $5.4 billion annual economic impact on the region contingent on GLI meeting its stated jobs, talent and policy metrics by 2020. —Mickey Meece

Urban Bourbon Trail adds eight stops, celebrates National Bourbon Month with an extra prize

Complete six and get a cool bonus gift. | Courtesy

In Kentucky, we celebrate bourbon year-round, but the rest of the country designates a special month to the brown spirit, and that month is finally here.

September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, and in honor of that, Louisville Tourism’s Urban Bourbon Trail has added eight new stops, put out a new passport and is offering an extra prize if you collect six stamps before Sept. 30.

The new passport now boasts 44 bars and restaurants throughout the city that feature quality bourbon cocktails and a knowledgeable staff.

The eight newcomers are Book & Bourbon Southern Kitchen (inside the airport), Blue Horse (inside the Crowne Plaza near the airport), Butchertown Grocery, Check’s BBQ & Blues, Coals Artisan Pizza, JB’s Pub, Recbar and Waylon’s Feed & Firewater.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Urban Bourbon Trail, basically you grab a free passport at one of the 44 stops and collect stamps each time you visit one and enjoy a cocktail. Once you have six stamps, you can turn it in at the Louisville Visitor Center for a T-shirt and certificate.

Since its inception in 2008, more than 27,000 people have completed the task.

This month, they’re offering a special prize — along with the swag mentioned above — in the form of a water bottle that says, “I’d rather be drinking bourbon.” —Sara Havens

Vogt Awards winners named

Vogt Awards

Greater Louisville Inc. and the Community Foundation of Louisville have named six local startups Vogt Awards recipients. Each winner gets $25,000, as well as mentoring and other value-added services.

“Each company has incredible potential but limited resources. We want to make sure they are using their time in the best way possible to accelerate their growth,” Ellie Puckett, commercialization director for EnterpriseCorp., the entrepreneurial arm of GLI, said in a news release.

The winning companies are:

  • Agent Ally — Saves Medicare insurance agents time by providing personalized plan results and talking points tailored to their clients through the Agent Ally Enrollment Solution.
  • Dry Baby — Manufactures and distributes one-of-a-kind water and stain repellent baby apparel.
  • Enriched Couples — Helps young couples navigate merging their finances by using a mix of behavioral science interventions.
  • Pascal Tags — Uses patent technology to track inventory with smart, passive and battery-free tags that can continuously span through any size space.
  • Sport.io — Provides cloud-based SaaS solutions for sporting event organizers to engage with athletes and streamlining the management of race registration, payments, communication and results.
  • True Secure SCADA — Strengthens the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure systems with the patented SCADA-GuardTM for utility and manufacturing companies.

Vogt Awards Demo Day will be held in mid-November, and each winner will showcase their business to the community and share the progress they are making. —Caitlin Bowling

UofL introduces online franchise management certificate

Looking to bolster your management skills? The University of Louisville started an online franchise management certificate through its business school to help.

University of Louisville

Focused on current and potential franchise owners, the nine-hour graduate program takes around six months to complete, according to a news release. Courses cover strategic planning, team management and human resources.

“Understanding where the gaps in knowledge remain within the industry was crucial to developing a truly student-centered certificate program,” College of Business Dean Todd Mooradian said in the release.

“Through close partnership with industry experts and experienced franchise managers, the Franchise Management Certificate uses a project-based curriculum that emphasizes ‘real world’ application to best prepare graduates for a successful future in franchising,” Mooradian said.

UofL plans on rolling out a series of similar online certificates targeting key industries in the area, the release said. The school didn’t name future focus areas. —Olivia Krauth

Legislative Research Commission director ousted by GOP leadership

LRC director David Byerman

David Byerman, the director of the Kentucky General Assembly’s bureaucratic arm, announced in a public statement last week his surprise that the legislature’s GOP leadership would not renew his contract for another year. They told him they want to take the office “in a different direction,” the statement read.

Byerman was hired to run the Legislative Research Commission and its 327 employees in 2015, following the sexual harassment scandal that ran off former longtime director Bobby Sherman in 2013. Similar problems emerged again late last year when it was revealed that four Republican House members — including then-speaker Jeff Hoover — had privately settled a sexual harassment complaint by an LRC staffer.

In a joint statement, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne said their policy is to not publicly discuss personnel decisions, but Byerman said he was told by the leaders that the decision was not a reflection of his job performance.

He indicated that until a new director is named, the chiefs of staff for Stivers and Osborne would fill his duties, which drew criticism from Democratic leaders as a move that would politicize the independent and nonpartisan nature of the agency. —Joe Sonka

Dress for Success Louisville unveils Mobile Career Center

Dress for Success Louisville, which provides professional attire and career development to economically disadvantaged women, now can hit the road in its Mobile Career Center.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Kentucky Medicaid donated the unit, which will be used to serve clients in outlying counties. It also will be taken to community events in Louisville.

“Having a Mobile Career Center that will allow us to take our services on the road and accommodate more clients has been a long-term organizational goal,” Dress for Success’ executive director Michelle Dayvault said in a news release. “We are grateful for the support and commitment of Anthem Kentucky Medicaid to help women and families in our community.”

The unit includes dressing rooms, a laptop computer bar, a mentoring area and storage for clothing and accessories. Anthem also has provided money for a mobile program manager to travel with the unit and oversee remote programs.

Dress for Success Louisville, which serves nine Kentucky counties and four in Indiana, strives to help women and families become self-sufficient and financially stable. Ninety-five percent of its clients are poor, and many are single mothers.

“Anthem has a long-standing commitment to supporting our Medicaid consumers through partnerships that can help address key social barriers and economic disparities and improve their overall health,” Celia Manlove, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Kentucky Medicaid plan president, said in the release. —Darla Carter

‘EVOLVE’ documentary to screen at Village 8

“EVOLVE: Driving a Clean Future in Coal Country” first premiered at Bellarmine University in February, but it’s now making its way to Village 8 Theatres at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7

Directed by Louisville filmmaker Ben Evans, the film documents the interest in electric cars throughout Kentucky. It was made in cooperation with EVolve KY, a nonprofit organization that champions for electric cars.

Insider talked with Evans in February about the documentary and rise of electric cars. Responding to our questions about whether electric cars will eventually replace gas-powered vehicles, he said:

Absolutely. They’re simply a far more efficient way to get around and, given the pace of technological innovation happening amidst a nearly perfect storm of peak oil, air pollution and climate change, I think we’re on the verge of a tipping point where gas-powered vehicles will seem like 20th century relics, and we’ll wonder why we didn’t make the leap to EVs sooner.

The screening at Village 8 will feature a EV car showcase and a post-show panel discussion with Evans and some of the others who appear in the film. Tickets are $5. —Sara Havens

In Brief

Adam Meier, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, reiterated last week that the Medicaid budget is facing a shortfall of nearly $300 million. The Bevin administration has said in the past that it might have to cut some services or even roll back Medicaid expansion due to financial constraints and depending on what happens with Kentucky HEALTH, the 1115 Medicaid waiver that’s under federal review.

New members of Leadership Louisville‘s board of directors are Christy Ames, Republic Bank; Mark Carter, Passport Health Plan; Jim Irving, Bingham Greenebaum Doll; Greg Pope, EY; Chad Smith, Courier-Journal and Gannett Co.; and Stacey Wade, Nimbus. Each will serve a three-year term. Aimee Jewell, the new president of Young Professionals Association of Louisville, also was named ex officio director of the board.