Business Briefs: Apartment rents rise 3.5 percent

Business Briefs: Apartment rents rise 3.5 percent

March 3rd, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Apartment rents rise 3.5 percent

Average apartment rents for a two-bedroom unit in Chattanooga rose 3.5 percent in the past year to $900 a month, according to a new report by Apartment List.

Chattanooga rental rates rose 1.4 percent in the past month, and the yearly increase in rents in Chattanooga was twice the statewide average of 1.7 percent.

Across Tennessee, average rental rates for two-bedroom apartments were highest in Franklin at $1,260 a month and lowest in Clarksville at $760 a month.

Trump picks Dow lawyer for EPA job

President Donald Trump has picked a chemical industry insider to run the Environmental Protection Agency office that oversees emergency response to hazardous spills and cleanups of the nation's most toxic sites.

The White House announced Friday that Trump has nominated Peter C. Wright to serve as EPA's assistant administrator for Land and Emergency Management. Wright has worked as a corporate lawyer at Dow Chemical Co. since 1999.

If confirmed by the Senate, Wright would oversee the EPA office with oversight of the Superfund hazardous waste cleanup program.

Dow merged with rival Dupont last year, creating the world's largest chemical maker. Companies are responsible for cleaning up toxic sites where they caused pollution.

Asked about potential conflicts of interest, an EPA spokesman said Wright would meet with the agency's ethics office.

Wall Street sours on McDonald's value

Wall Street is losing its appetite for McDonald's, believing there aren't many fans of its new Dollar Menu.

Shares tumbled 5 percent to a new low for the year Friday.

Value menus have become the tool of choice at fast food companies to generate traffic. In January, McDonald's revived its popular Dollar Menu, with items priced at $1, $2 or $3. But competition for mouths has never been more fierce. Rivals Taco Bell and Wendy's responded with their own value meals, and they've won some converts.

On Friday, David Palmer of RBC Capital Markets lowered his expectations for the company because of the lack of excitement over the Dollar Menu, on top of a worsening picture for the entire industry.

McDonald's may have cannibalized its own sales with promotions for the Dollar Menu, pulling customers away from its popular breakfast foods, Palmer wrote. He also thinks the Dollar Menu doesn't have a "hero" item on it, something that will pull people into a McDonald's restaurant, rather than a Burger King or Taco Bell.

Palmer lowered his expectations for comparable-store sales by more than two-thirds, to 1 percent.

Foot Locker outlook sinks company stock

Shares in Foot Locker sank more than 12.7 percent in trading Friday after the athletic apparel retailer reported mixed results and said sales likely would continue to drag into 2018, spooking investors and analysts.

Comparable-stores sales — sales in stores open at least a year, an important metric retailers use that excludes the effect of new or closed stores — fell 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

"The first quarter of 2018 will likely see the continuation of sales and margins in line with trends in the second half of 2017," said Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Lauren Peters. "However, we are confident that we will inflect back to positive comparable-store sales by the middle of 2018."

Foot Locker said it expects comparable-store sales to be flat or into the low single digits for the full fiscal year.

The New York-based company said it had a loss of $49 million, or 40 cents per share, in the quarter ended Feb. 3, reversing a year-earlier profit of $189 million, or $1.42 per share.

The shoe retailer — which operates more than 3,300 stores worldwide — posted revenue of $2.21 bil- lion in the period, just missing Street forecasts of $2.22 billion.