Business Briefs: Dixie Group earnings

Business Briefs: Dixie Group earnings

August 4th, 2017 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Amazon fair attracts 30,000 job applicants

Amazon reported Thursday that more than 30,000 applications were received nationally as the company tries to fill 50,000 jobs, including at its Chattanooga and Charleston, Tenn., distribution centers.

Hundreds of candidates showed up at the fulfillment center in Chattanooga on Wednesday, said company spokeswoman Ali Hutchins.

According to Amazon, it's trying to fill nearly 1,000 jobs in Southeast Tennessee. Hutchins said she didn't have specific hiring numbers by site.

John Olsen, vice president of Amazon's worldwide operations-human resources, said thousands of job offers were extended to candidates and more will come in the next few days as it processes candidates.

Dixie Group sales up but net income falls

Buoyed by improving consumer sentiment, stock prices and home starts, the Dixie Group, Inc. boosted its sales by 1.8 percent in the second quarter and made an even bigger 9 percent sales gain in the first four weeks of the new fiscal quarter.

But net income for the Dalton, Ga.-based carpet maker was still down 30 percent from a year ago, although the operating results were better than analysts had forecast for the second quarter.

Dixie said Thursday its net income in the second quarter was $1.1 mllllon, or 7 cents per share, compared to net income of nearly $1.7 million, or 10 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Income from continuing operations equaled 8 cents per share, which was 3 cents per share better than the average estimate by industry analysts.

Dixie CEO Dan Frierson said the company's residential floorcovering sales in the spring were ahead of the carpet industry as a whole, but the company's commercial carpet sales trailed most of the industry.

Dixie shares closed Wednesday at $4.20, down 5 cents per share.

Aetna profit grows after Obamacare exit

Aetna Inc. on Thursday posted sharply higher second-quarter profit on a strong performance by its core health insurance segment and its exit from unprofitable Affordable Care Act health exchanges.

Optimistic about the rest of the year, Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna raised its profit expectations for 2017, exceeding what analysts expected.

However, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini warned about uncertainty in health insurance markets as the Republican-led Congress and President Donald Trump struggle to keep their promise to replace Obamacare.

Aetna also demonstrated it can succeed without acquiring Humana Inc., which it unsuccessfully pursued last year. Medicare Advantage products were a "primary driver of growth," accounting for a 14 percent increase in membership this year, Bertolini told investor analysts on a conference call. The products are popular private insurance offerings that handle Medicare coverage for seniors.

Avon CEO to resign under external pressure

Avon's CEO will leave the company in March as the struggling beauty products maker continues a turnaround campaign.

Sheri McCoy has led the company for five years and sits on the board, but there has been some external pressure from activist investors for a change in leadership.

Avon said Thursday that it has hired an executive search firm to help find McCoy's successor.

"The platform is in place for a new CEO to continue accelerating the pace of change and take Avon to sustainable profitable growth," McCoy said in a company release.

Barrington Capital Group had been pushing for significant action at Avon since 2015, when it sent a letter saying that, "significant, immediate changes in leadership and strategic direction are needed."

In March 2016 Avon announced that it was cutting 2,500 jobs.

Mortgage rates steady after 2 weeks of drops

Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were little changed this week after declining for two straight weeks.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages inched up to 3.93 percent from 3.92 percent last week. While historically low, that's still above last year's average of 3.65 percent. The benchmark rate stood at 3.43 percent a year ago.

The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate home loans, popular with homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, slipped to 3.18 percent from 3.20 percent last week.

Dunkin' may drop 'Donuts' from name

Dunkin' is thinking about dumping "Donuts" from its name.

A new location of the chain in Pasadena, Calif., will be simply called Dunkin', a move that parent company Dunkin' Brands Inc. calls a test. The Canton, Mass.-based company said Thursday that a few other stores will get the one-name treatment, too.

The chain wants people to think of its stores as a destination for coffee, although it will still sell doughnuts. Dunkin' Donuts said it won't make a decision on whether it will change its name until late next year, when it expects to start redesigning stores.