News Article | May 12, 2017
Fifteen illegal Vietnamese fishers pleaded guilty to charges this week in Darwin’s magistrates court, after a successful investigation led by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) and the Australian Border Force (ABF). The master and 14 crew were convicted of illegal fishing and environmental protection offenses for fishing in a Commonwealth marine reserve. In addition, the vessel has been destroyed, preventing it from being used for further exploitation of Australia’s marine environment, the AFMA said. On top of fines, the master received a four-month suspended jail sentence and 13 crew each received suspended jail sentences ranging between two and three months. One crew member, who was a repeat offender, received a total of five months’ imprisonment to be served immediately. Maritime Border Command (MBC), a multi-agency task force within the ABF, initially detected the illegal Vietnamese fishing vessel in Australian waters on April 6, 2017 by a surveillance aircraft. MBC continued to track and monitor the vessel, before being apprehended by ABF Cutter Cape Jervis on April 10. At the time of boarding four divers were in the water collecting sea cucumber.
News Article | May 9, 2017
HARVEY, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Atkore International Group Inc. (the "Company" or "Atkore") (NYSE: ATKR) announced earnings for its fiscal 2017 second quarter ended March 31, 2017 ("second quarter"). "Our second quarter Adjusted EBITDA was in-line with our expectations. Despite continued softness in overall non-residential construction markets, we are seeing some momentum in our early-cycle products and stabilization within the general industrial market. Atkore is well-positioned to take advantage of expected market improvements with a focus on innovative new product introductions and continuous improvement initiatives," commented John Williamson, Atkore’s President and CEO. Net sales for the second quarter increased to $372.8 million, an increase of 5.6% compared to $353.0 million for the prior-year period primarily due to increased sales within the Electrical Raceway segment. Gross profit decreased by 3.8% to $87.9 million for the second quarter of 2017, as compared to $91.4 million for the prior-year period. The decline in gross profit was primarily attributable to lower sales of mechanical pipe products within the solar end market. Gross margin decreased to 23.6% in the second quarter from 25.9% in the prior-year period. Gross margin was negatively impacted as a result of passing through rising input costs. Net income increased $4.9 million to $18.9 million for the second quarter, as compared to $14.0 million for the prior-year period. The increase in net income was primarily driven by $6.4 million of lower stock-based compensation expense, lower interest expense of $5.3 million resulting from lower debt and lower interest rates driven by our debt refinancing transactions on December 22, 2016 as well as the recognition of a $5.8 million gain on the sale of the company’s minority interest in a joint venture. The increase is partially offset by a $7.5 million accrual for a legal contingency for the period November 2014 through March 2017 related to a U.S. Commerce Department ruling on malleable iron pipe fittings and $3.6 million of lower tax expense. Adjusted EBITDA decreased 3.8%, or $2.2 million, to $56.1 million for the second quarter, as compared to $58.4 million for the prior-year period. Adjusted EBITDA margins decreased to 15.1%, as compared to 16.5% for the prior-year period. The decrease was due primarily to a reduction in gross profit. Diluted earnings per share were $0.28 for the quarter compared to $0.22 in the prior-year period. Adjusted diluted earnings per share increased by $0.04 to $0.35 for the second quarter as compared to $0.31 for the prior-year period. Electrical Raceway net sales increased $19.8 million, or 8.6%, to $251.1 million for the second quarter, as compared to $231.3 million for the prior-year period, primarily resulting from our ability to pass through higher input costs. Adjusted EBITDA increased $2.7 million, or 6.4%, to $44.9 million for the second quarter, as compared to $42.2 million for the prior-year period, primarily due to the pass-through impact of higher input costs and our ability to earn a premium from meeting customer expectations of product availability, delivery service levels and co-loading capabilities and improved manufacturing productivity, partially offset by lower sales volumes resulting from softness in non-residential activity. MP&S net sales were in-line with the prior year period, experiencing a slight reduction of $0.2 million, or 0.2%, to $122.0 million for the second quarter, as compared to $122.2 million for the prior-year period. Adjusted EBITDA decreased $5.1 million, or 22.6%, to $17.3 million for the second quarter as compared to $22.3 million for the prior-year period, primarily due to lower sales volumes of mechanical pipe products within the solar end-market, which are typically higher margin products. The Company is tightening its Adjusted EBITDA guidance range to $235.0 million - $245.0 million for 2017 and its Adjusted EPS guidance range to $1.55 - $1.65 primarily due to continued softness in the non-residential construction markets. A reconciliation of the forward-looking full-year 2017 Adjusted EBITDA outlook is not being provided, as the Company does not currently have sufficient data to accurately estimate the variables and individual adjustments for such reconciliations. Atkore management will host a conference call today, May 9, 2017, at 8 a.m. Eastern time, to discuss the Company’s financial results. The conference call may be accessed by dialing (877) 407-0789 (domestic) or (201) 689-8562 (international). The call will be available for replay until May 23, 2017. The replay can be accessed by dialing (844) 512-2921, or for international callers, (412) 317-6671. The passcode for the live call and the replay is 13659571. Interested investors and other parties can also listen to a webcast of the live conference call by logging onto the Investor Relations section of the Company's website at http://investors.atkore.com. The online replay will be available on the same website immediately following the call. To learn more about the Company please visit the company's website at http://investors.atkore.com. Atkore International Group Inc. is a leading manufacturer of Electrical Raceway products primarily for the non-residential construction and renovation markets and Mechanical Products & Solutions for the construction and industrial markets. The Company manufactures a broad range of end-to-end integrated products and solutions that are critical to its customers’ businesses and employs approximately 3,100 people at 52 manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide. The Company is headquartered in Harvey, Illinois. This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Federal Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements relating to financial outlook. Some of the forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terms such as "believes," "expects," "may," "will," "shall," "should," "would," "could," "seeks," "aims," "projects," "is optimistic," "intends," "plans," "estimates," "anticipates" or other comparable terms. Forward-looking statements include, without limitation, all matters that are not historical facts. Forward-looking statements are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which may be beyond our control. We caution you that forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or outcomes and that actual performance and outcomes, including, without limitation, our actual results of operations, financial condition and liquidity, and the development of the market in which we operate, may differ materially from those made in or suggested by the forward-looking statements contained in this press release. In addition, even if our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, and the development of the market in which we operate, are consistent with the forward-looking statements contained in this press release, those results or developments may not be indicative of results or developments in subsequent periods. A number of important factors, including, without limitation, the risks and uncertainties discussed under the caption "Risk Factors" in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on May 9, 2017 could cause actual results and outcomes to differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements. Additional factors that could cause actual results and outcomes to differ from those reflected in forward-looking statements include, without limitation: declines in, and uncertainty regarding, the general business and economic conditions in the U.S. and international markets in which we operate; weakness or another downturn in the U.S. non-residential construction industry; changes in prices of raw materials; pricing pressure, reduced profitability, or loss of market share due to intense competition; availability and cost of third-party freight carriers and energy; high levels of imports of products similar to those manufactured by us; changes in federal, state, local and international governmental regulations and trade policies; adverse weather conditions; failure to generate sufficient cash flow from operations or to raise sufficient funds in the capital markets to satisfy existing obligations and support the development of our business; increased costs relating to future capital and operating expenditures to maintain compliance with environmental, health and safety laws; reduced spending by, deterioration in the financial condition of, or other adverse developments with respect to, one or more of our top customers; increases in our working capital needs, which are substantial and fluctuate based on economic activity and the market prices for our main raw materials, including as a result of failure to collect, or delays in the collection of, cash from the sale of manufactured products; work stoppage or other interruptions of production at our facilities as a result of disputes under existing collective bargaining agreements with labor unions or in connection with negotiations of new collective bargaining agreements, as a result of supplier financial distress, or for other reasons; challenges attracting and retaining key personnel or high-quality employees; changes in our financial obligations relating to pension plans that we maintain in the United States; reduced production or distribution capacity due to interruptions in the operations of our facilities or those of our key suppliers; loss of a substantial number of our third-party agents or distributors or a dramatic deviation from the amount of sales they generate; security threats, attacks, or other disruptions to our information systems, or failure to comply with complex network security, data privacy and other legal obligations or the failure to protect sensitive information; possible impairment of goodwill or other long-lived assets as a result of future triggering events, such as declines in our cash flow projections or customer demand; safety and labor risks associated with the manufacture and in the testing of our products; product liability, construction defect and warranty claims and litigation relating to our various products, as well as government inquiries and investigations, and consumer, employment, tort and other legal proceedings; our ability to protect our intellectual property and other material proprietary rights; risks inherent in doing business internationally; our inability to introduce new products effectively or implement our innovation strategies; the inability of our customers to pay off the credit lines extended to them by us in a timely manner and the negative impact on customer relations resulting from our collections efforts with respect to non-paying or slow-paying customers; our inability to continue importing raw materials, component parts and/or finished goods; changes in legislation, regulation and government policy as a result of the 2016 U.S. presidential and congressional elections; the incurrence of liabilities and the issuance of additional debt or equity in connection with acquisitions, joint ventures or divestitures; failure to manage acquisitions successfully, including identifying, evaluating, and valuing acquisition targets and integrating acquired companies, businesses or assets; the incurrence of liabilities in connection with violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar foreign anti-corruption laws; the incurrence of additional expenses, increase in complexity of our supply chain and potential damage to our reputation with customers resulting from regulations related to "conflict minerals"; disruptions or impediments to the receipt of sufficient raw materials resulting from various anti-terrorism security measures; restrictions contained in our debt agreements; failure to generate cash sufficient to pay the principal of, interest on, or other amounts due on our debt; the significant influence the Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC investor will have continued to have over corporate decisions; and other factors described from time to time in documents that we file with the SEC. The Company assumes no obligation to update the information contained herein, which speaks only as of the date hereof. This press release includes certain financial information, not prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States ("GAAP"). Because not all companies calculate non-GAAP financial information identically (or at all), the presentations herein may not be comparable to other similarly titled measures used by other companies. Further, these measures should not be considered substitutes for the performance measures derived in accordance with GAAP. See non-GAAP reconciliations below in this press release for a reconciliation of these measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures. We present Adjusted net sales to facilitate comparisons of reported net sales from period to period within our MP&S segment. In August 2015, we announced plans to exit the Fence and Sprinkler product lines in order to re-align our long-term strategic focus. These product lines were exited during the first quarter of fiscal 2016. Management uses Adjusted net sales to evaluate our ongoing business operations, which no longer include Fence and Sprinkler. We define Adjusted net sales as reported net sales excluding net sales directly attributable to Fence and Sprinkler. We use Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA Margin in evaluating the performance of our business, and we use each in the preparation of our annual operating budgets and as indicators of business performance and profitability. We believe Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA Margin allow us to readily view operating trends, perform analytical comparisons and identify strategies to improve operating performance. We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income before: depreciation and amortization, loss (gain) on extinguishment of debt, interest expense (net), income tax expense, restructuring and impairments, stock-based compensation, legal matters, consulting fees, transaction costs, gain on sale of joint venture, other items, and the impact from our Fence and Sprinkler exit. Prior to fiscal 2017, net income was also adjusted to exclude net periodic pension benefit costs and the impact from anti-microbial coated sprinkler pipe, or "ABF" product liability. These costs are no longer an adjustment to EBITDA beginning in fiscal 2017. Prior fiscal years have not been restated for this change due to the relative insignificance and nature of the amounts. We believe Adjusted EBITDA, when presented in conjunction with comparable GAAP measures, is useful for investors because management uses Adjusted EBITDA in evaluating the performance of our business. We define Adjusted EBITDA Margin as Adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of Adjusted net sales. We define Net Income Margin as Net income as a percentage of Net sales. We use Adjusted net income and Adjusted earnings per share in evaluating the performance of our business and profitability. Management believes that these measures provide useful information to investors by offering additional ways of viewing the Company’s results that, when reconciled to the corresponding GAAP measure provide an indication of performance and profitability excluding the impact of unusual and or non-cash items. We define Adjusted net income as net income before consulting fees, loss on extinguishment of debt, stock-based compensation expense and other items, including the impact from our Fence and Sprinkler exit. We define Adjusted earnings per share as basic and diluted earnings per share excluding the per share impact of consulting fees, loss (gain) on extinguishment of debt, gain on sale of joint venture, legal matters, stock-based compensation and other items, including the impact from our Fence and Sprinkler exit. We define leverage ratio as the ratio of net debt (total debt less cash and cash equivalents) to Adjusted EBITDA on a trailing twelve month basis. We believe the leverage ratio is useful to investors as an alternative liquidity measure. The following table presents reconciliations of Adjusted EBITDA to net income for the periods presented: The following tables represent reconciliations of Adjusted net sales to net sales and calculations of Adjusted EBITDA Margin by segment for the periods presented: The following table presents reconciliations for Adjusted net income to net income for the periods presented: The following table presents reconciliations of Net debt to Total debt for the periods presented: The following table presents a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA for the trailing twelve months ended March 31, 2017:
News Article | May 5, 2017
"The first quarter – typically the most challenging of the year – saw revenue growth in both our Asset-Based and Asset-Light businesses but also experienced some changing freight characteristics on the less-than-truckload side and a degree of weaker demand, particularly in the truckload sector," said ArcBest Chairman, President and CEO Judy R. McReynolds. "Our enhanced market approach, in which we now offer most services under the ArcBest brand, became fully operational in the first quarter. We continue to see positive reception from customers about our heightened focus on meeting all of their supply chain needs. Customers also recognize the value we bring to their own businesses with our ability to manage even the most complex logistics challenges." Despite a slight decrease in daily freight tonnage, first quarter revenue for ArcBest's Asset-Based services improved versus the same period last year due to solid increases in revenue per hundredweight. Asset-Based services maintained pricing discipline, and average shipment rates were positively impacted by changes in freight profile and increases in fuel surcharge. Recent trends of Asset-Based shipment growth continued, resulting in the need for increased amounts of freight handling labor and purchased transportation resources. Equipment repositioning costs continued to be meaningfully below last year while first quarter freight handling productivity improved slightly. Though first quarter equipment maintenance expenses were higher, new replacement tractors, scheduled to be delivered throughout the second quarter, are expected to further improve linehaul equipment efficiencies, positively impact maintenance costs and contribute to lower city pickup and delivery costs. Increased severity of healthcare claims unfavorably affected those costs during the quarter. Asset-Based cost controls resulting from the enhanced market approach were in-line with expectations. The increase in Asset-Light revenue was the result of growth in expedited services and the impact of additional dedicated truckload business related to a second half 2016 acquisition. The improvement in non-GAAP operating income reflects cost management initiatives, including expense reductions associated with the previously announced corporate restructuring. Net revenue margins were compressed as a result of increased market rates for purchased transportation. Compared to a strong prior year quarter, ArcBest's international revenue and margins were weaker due to the lingering effects of disruption in the ocean shipping market. Though it handled fewer customer events, FleetNet's first quarter operating income was comparable to last year because of improved labor efficiencies and positive changes in customer mix. "We remain cautiously optimistic that the 2017 operating environment will improve going forward," said McReynolds. "Regardless of the environment, our entire team is singularly focused on delivering an excellent customer experience and broadening awareness of the full scope of solutions we provide. This includes the recent launch of our new "Welcome to Simplistics" advertising campaign, in which we underscore and highlight ArcBest's expert ability to simplify our customers' supply chain challenges." ArcBest Corporation will host a conference call with company executives to discuss the 2017 first quarter results. The call will be today, Friday, May 5, at 9:30 a.m. ET (8:30 a.m. CT). Interested parties are invited to listen by calling (800) 684-9134. Following the call, a recorded playback will be available through the end of the day on June 15, 2017. To listen to the playback, dial (800) 633-8284 or (402) 977-9140 (for international callers). The conference call ID for the playback is 21849557. The conference call and playback can also be accessed, through June 15, 2017, on ArcBest's website at arcb.com. ArcBestSM (Nasdaq: ARCB) is a logistics company with creative problem solvers who have The Skill and the Will® to deliver integrated logistics solutions. At ArcBest, We'll Find a Way to deliver knowledge, expertise and a can-do attitude with every shipment and supply chain solution, household move or vehicle repair. For more information, visit arcb.com. Certain statements and information in this press release concerning results for the three months ended March 31, 2017 may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Terms such as "anticipate," "believe," "could," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "foresee," "intend," "may," "plan," "predict," "project," "scheduled," "should," "would," and similar expressions and the negatives of such terms are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's beliefs, assumptions, and expectations based on currently available information, are not guarantees of future performance, and involve certain risks and uncertainties (some of which are beyond our control). Although we believe that the expectations reflected in these forward-looking statements are reasonable as and when made, we cannot provide assurance that our expectations will prove to be correct. Actual outcomes and results could materially differ from what is expressed, implied, or forecasted in these statements due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to: a failure of our information systems, including disruptions or failures of services essential to our operations or upon which our information technology platforms rely, data breach, and/or cybersecurity incidents; not achieving some or all of the expected financial and operating benefits of our corporate restructuring or incurring additional costs or operational inefficiencies as a result of the restructuring; relationships with employees, including unions, and our ability to attract and retain employees; unfavorable terms of, or the inability to reach agreement on, future collective bargaining agreements or a workforce stoppage by our employees covered under ABF Freight's collective bargaining agreement; competitive initiatives and pricing pressures; union and nonunion employee wages and benefits, including changes in required contributions to multiemployer plans; the cost, integration, and performance of any recent or future acquisitions; general economic conditions and related shifts in market demand that impact the performance and needs of industries we serve and/or limit our customers' access to adequate financial resources; governmental regulations; environmental laws and regulations, including emissions-control regulations; the loss or reduction of business from large customers; litigation or claims asserted against us; the cost, timing, and performance of growth initiatives; the loss of key employees or the inability to execute succession planning strategies; availability and cost of reliable third-party services; our ability to secure independent owner operators and/or operational or regulatory issues related to our use of their services; default on covenants of financing arrangements and the availability and terms of future financing arrangements; timing and amount of capital expenditures; self-insurance claims and insurance premium costs; availability of fuel, the effect of volatility in fuel prices and the associated changes in fuel surcharges on securing increases in base freight rates, and the inability to collect fuel surcharges; increased prices for and decreased availability of new revenue equipment, decreases in value of used revenue equipment, and higher costs of equipment-related operating expenses such as maintenance and fuel and related taxes; potential impairment of goodwill and intangible assets; maintaining our intellectual property rights, brand, and corporate reputation; seasonal fluctuations and adverse weather conditions; regulatory, economic, and other risks arising from our international business; antiterrorism and safety measures; and other financial, operational, and legal risks and uncertainties detailed from time to time in ArcBest's public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). For additional information regarding known material factors that could cause our actual results to differ from our projected results, please see our filings with SEC, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K. . Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements after the date they are made, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. The following tables show financial data and operating statistics on ArcBestSM and its reportable segments. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/arcbest-announces-first-quarter-2017-results-300452097.html
News Article | April 16, 2017
One of the most memorable gags from long-running sitcom Only Fools and Horses centres on the road sweeper, Trigger, receiving a medal from the local council, awarded to him for saving taxpayers’ money by dutifully keeping the same broom for 20 years. “This old broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time,” Trigger muses, prompting cafe owner Sid to ask: “How the hell can it be the same bloody broom, then?” Which, with impeccable Trigger-esque logic, brings us to consumer goods giant Unilever and its first-quarter results this week. The focus will be on the constituent parts that make up the giant group – the owner of brands ranging from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and Flora to Persil and Surf washing powders. At the firm’s margarine and spreads business, however, performance has been poor (they can’t believe it’s not better), prompting chief executive Paul Polman to put the division up for sale as part of a wider shakeup after he fought off a £115bn hostile takeover bid from US rival Kraft Heinz. However, like Trigger’s broom, that move raises fundamental questions about the identity of Unilever, which was formed in 1929 by a merger between Merseyside soap makers Lever Brothers, and Margarine Unie, a Netherlands-based collection of margarine makers. Without spreads, can it still be Unilever? How do you earn a £14m pay packet? Simple: start with one totalling £23m, preside over a safety scandal involving one of your products in a significant foreign market, and wait for the 39% pay cut to kick in. That is what has happened to Rakesh Kapoor, chief executive of consumer goods maker Reckitt Benckiser Group, which has a first-quarter trading update this week. There will be much to discuss too, aside from: one, the fallout from the South Korean government saying in 2015 that 92 people were believed to have died from injuries related to humidifier sterilisers, sold by several companies including Reckitt; and two, how Kapoor is getting by on his measly stipend of about £40k a day. Like Unilever, Reckitt is looking to shed a business, after putting its food group on the block earlier this month. Selling the division, which includes French’s mustard and Frank’s RedHot sauce, could fetch more than £2.4bn, which might come in handy following Reckitt’s planned $16.6bn purchase of baby formula firm Mead Johnson. Still, Kapoor’s plan to cut the mustard does seem to have cut the mustard, at least as far as shareholders are concerned. Shares are up since the announcement, at least giving some hope to Kapoor that he might get a fatter pay packet next time. Prices are rising and wages aren’t, which means that our standard of living is falling. That irritation is likely to continue for a bit, too, with economists expecting the squeeze on inflation-adjusted wages to intensify over the coming months as the weak pound affects the cost of living. But is that bad news for everyone? Possibly not, if it makes shoppers trade down to cheaper retailers such as Primark, whose owner Associated British Foods (ABF) announces first-half results this week. Chris Beauchamp of financial spread betting group IG, mused: “Now, after recent data on wage growth has confirmed that UK shoppers’ pay packets are shrinking in real terms, we could see a boost for the cheaper end of the market, with Primark being a beneficiary.” Meanwhile, in what appears to be the sort of luck you’d expect to land only at an Irish retailer’s door, ABF said in February that Primark had been enjoying a boost from tourists drawn to Britain by the cheap pound. Sales at the cut-price fashion chain’s two stores in London’s Oxford Street were up 10% as the UK’s premier high street benefited from an influx of bargain-hunting visitors. Still, if you’re thinking that Primark wins both ways, it may not prove as simple as that. A weaker pound should eventually put some pressure on even this retailer, as suppliers tend to want to be paid in dollars. Primark has assured customers it is “working hard” on keeping costs down. We may find out just how hard this week.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Attorney Sarah Churchill of law firm Nichols & Churchill, P.A. has been elected a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation as of January 20th, 2017. The American Bar Foundation studies the relationship between society and the law. Its mission is to advance justice and the understanding of law through empirical research, publications and enrichment programs. The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is a non-profit whose members are lawyers, judges and legal scholars. "I'm excited as a new Fellow to look at the programs and work being done by the ABF to see where I can contribute. I'm most interested in the research areas of criminal justice and civil justice and dispute resolution, and I look forward to joining the dedicated energy of the Fellows in furthering the Foundation's goals in these important areas of the law," says Churchill. To become a Fellow, ABF members nominate a practitioner who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in their communities and the legal profession. Candidates must also be members in good standing of the American Bar Association. Accepted nominees are then reviewed and voted on by the Board and the Fellows committee. The ABF admits as Fellows no more than 1% of the total lawyer population in a given state. Since 1952, the Foundation has been conducting independent, empirical research upon which other organizations such as the American Bar Association greatly depend. Former American Bar Association president William Hubbard has noted that without the Foundation’s organized and accurate research, the ABA would not be able to advance sound policies that further a fair judicial system. The Fellows support all research and participate in the process by seeking to shed light on pressing issues and questions such as: ‘how can the American bar help improve access to justice?’ ‘what challenges does legal education face today?’ and ‘what are the implications of long-term incarceration?’ Attorney Churchill was very pleased to receive this fellowship. “Becoming a Fellow of such a distinguished organization is truly an amazing honor. The high caliber of judges, attorneys and law professors that comprise the American Bar Foundation has impressed upon me the importance of the work and research we’re doing.” Law partners Attorney Matthew Nichols and Attorney Sarah Churchill have represented hundreds of clients in serious legal cases throughout the state of Maine and work tirelessly to provide exceptional advocacy and desired outcomes. The legal team at Nichols & Churchill is uniquely qualified to handle a wide range of criminal and civil matters for Maine residents with the highest level of dedication and a proven track record of successes. Their combined experience totals over 50 years in criminal defense, civil law and procedural law. To learn more about the legal team, visit our website at nicholschurchill.com/about/. We serve communities in Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Kennebec, York, Lincoln, Androscoggin, Oxford, Franklin and Knox counties. For in-depth information on our services and practice areas, visit us here http://www.nicholschurchill.com/practice-areas.
News Article | February 27, 2017
“Trump Reiterates Support for Ethanol, RFS” is the major headline to come out of the National Ethanol Conference in San Diego, which is the Renewable Fuels Association’s annual conflab and as usual produced a flurry of studies, keynotes and statements on the viability and importance of US ethanol to everything from American jobs to advanced American manufacturing. The Trump headline came out of a letter sent to the delegates to the event by President Trump — which itself is a hopeful sign of support. But did the President really offer support for the Renewable Fuel Standard? Let’s look at the letter behind the headlines. “Rest assured that your president and this administration values the importance of renewable fuels to America’s economy and to our energy independence. As I emphasized throughout my campaign, renewable fuels are essential to America’s energy strategy,” Trump wrote. “As important as ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard are to rural economies, I also know that your industry has suffered from overzealous, job-killing regulation. I am committed to reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses, and my team is looking forward to working with the Renewable Fuels Association, and many others, to identify and reform those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit,” Trump added. Hmm. There’s support for renewable fuels in there. President Trump reiterates that “renewable fuels are essential to America’s energy strategy,” but when it comes to the RFS itself, the President notes the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard to rural communities — and then quickly pivots to a theme of identifying and reforming “those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit.” Now, the President could have written a letter to the Affordable Healthcare Society attending at the National Conference to Save Obamacare with the following: “As important as Obamacare is to low-income people, I also know that your industry has suffered from overzealous, job-killing regulation. I am committed to reducing the regulatory burden on all businesses, and my team is looking forward to working with the Affordable Healthcare Society, and many others, to identify and reform those regulations that impede growth, increase consumer costs, and eliminate good-paying jobs without providing sufficient environmental or public health benefit.” It sounds very supportive, but it’s a long way from a pledge to defend Obamacare. And we’ve changed nothing in the structure, just the names. Nevertheless, the Renewable Fuels Association was grateful. “We thank President Trump for reaffirming his support for the domestic biofuels industry and the RFS,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “The RFS has cleaned the air, reduced our dependence on foreign oil and boosted local economies. Donald Trump understands all this. Consumers benefit from this national policy and our industry looks forward to continuing to be the lowest cost, highest octane fuel in the world.” The RFA debuted a new study by ABF Economics. which found that the U.S. ethanol industry added $42.1 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product and supported nearly 340,000 jobs in 2016. According to the analysis, the production and use of 15.25 billion gallons of ethanol last year also: •contributed nearly $14.4 billion to the U.S. economy from manufacturing; •added more than $22.5 billion in income for American households; •generated an estimated $4.9 billion in tax revenue to the Federal Treasury and $3.6 billion in revenue to state and local governments; •displaced 510 million barrels of imported oil, keeping $20.1 billion in the U.S. economy; In all, it’s been a strong year for ethanol. Dinneen said in his keynote that 2016 was “a record year for production, a record year for net exports, a record year for domestic demand, and a record year for E15 sales and infrastructure build-out. It was, in short, a pretty darn good year,” said Dinneen. Overall, he noted that the industry produced a record 15.3 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, while supporting 74,420 direct jobs and 264,756 indirect and induced jobs across the country. Dinneen also predicted that the Trump Administration would “stand up for American trade, and fight back against any trade distorting tariffs, such as those recently imposed by the Chinese on U.S. ethanol and dried distillers grain exports.” How much U.S. ethanol was produced last year? What were the top U.S. ethanol export markets? What are ethanol’s environmental and octane benefits? How many states offer E15 (15 percent ethanol) blends and how many automakers warranty their vehicles for higher ethanol blends? The answer to these questions and many more is simple, says the RFA — it’s in the 2017 Ethanol Industry Outlook, and that’s here. One of the issues in the mix for the ethanol industry right now is a fight over “the point of obligation” in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Right now, that’s oil refineries. Carl Icahn and others have been urging the White House to shift the point of obligation to retailers and fuel distributors— and a coalition of independent oil marketers, convenience store chains, travel plazas and truckstops, and ethanol producers has assembled to fight the change. NATSO, representing more than 1,500 travel plazas and truckstops nationwide, opined: “changing the point of obligation would hinder the program’s objective of displacing traditional fuel and replacing it with renewable substitutes to promote stable supply and prices, and inject such massive disruption and uncertainty into fuels markets that retail fuel prices will inevitably skyrocket and the incentive for fuel marketers to integrate renewable fuels into their product lines will dissipate. This will crush the very constituencies whose interests President Trump promised protect in order to benefit a narrow segment of the refining industry.” Growth Energy delivered an economic analysis commissioned from Edgeworth Economics that identifies numerous problems associated with changing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) point of obligation. Growth Energy strongly supports EPA’s proposed denial to move the point of obligation. “Changing the point of obligation would have a disastrous impact on the industry, retailers, and consumers,” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said. Also appearing this week from the The Urban Air Initiative and several partners were filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that disrupts the agency’s current rationale for controlling ethanol blends under the Clean Air Act, in response to the proposed Renewables Enhancement Growth Support Rule (REGS Rule). The proposed rule would codify EPA’s position that fuel blends with more than 15% ethanol (E16-E83) may only be used in Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). UAI argues that the Clean Air Act does not forbid the use of midlevel gasoline-ethanol blends in conventional vehicles. UAI points out that under the Clean Air Act, EPA bears the burden of showing that ethanol contributes to harmful emissions before it may limit the concentration of ethanol in fuel. The proposed rule reverses this burden of proof and subverts the intent of Congress by requiring fuel manufacturers to show that higher levels of ethanol would not harm emissions control systems. In its comments, UAI takes on EPA’s longstanding assumption that the Clean Air Act’s “substantially similar” (sub-sim) law allows the agency to control the concentration of ethanol in gasoline. UAI argues that EPA’s interpretation of the sub-sim law is inconsistent with the clear language of the law and must change. “We believe these comments can be potentially game changing in the way the EPA regulates clean burning ethanol,” said UAI President Dave Vander Griend. Several other organizations joined UAI’s comments. They include the Energy Future Coalition, Clean Fuels Development Coalition, Glacial Lakes Energy, Siouxland Ethanol, ICM Inc., Nebraska Ethanol Board, National Farmers Union, South Dakota Farmers Union, Minnesota Farmers Union, Montana Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union, and Wisconsin Farmers Union. One thing you’ll note in the ethanol industry’s line of discussion — it remains the ethanol industry, only loosely allied with the renewable fuels industry as a whole. Further, we see a shift from RFA — and almost everyone else promoting renewable fuels on Capitol Hill – from discussing the greenhouse gas benefits of renewable fuels to the domestic jobs and energy security that flows from US-based fuel production. But, that said, times are good and we’ll see about 2018. Focal point ahead? For RFA, the focus is clearly on E15. There’s quite a bit of work to be done with engine manufacturers who might incorporate E30 blends in a new generation of engines designed to reach the 52MPG CAFE standards that are proposed for the 2020s and 2030s. Those worthy goals are far more in the background as the ethanol industry continues to focus on a E15 tolerance that would boost the potential for ethanol blending well above 20 billion gallons.
News Article | February 23, 2017
MELBOURNE, Australia, Feb. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a joint media release from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF), US$186 million worth of drugs was seized in Melbourne on Feb. 5, and four men were arrested in relation to the case....
News Article | February 27, 2017
Une foule s'est rassemblée à Mazières-en-Gâtine pour assister à cet événement historique LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - 27 février 2017) - Des centaines de dignitaires politiques et chefs d'entreprises de la région se sont retrouvés ce jour au Château du Petit Chêne à Mazières-en-Gâtine pour commémorer le lancement de la rénovation complète du château-hôtel du 17ème siècle appartenant à la Grande Maison Younan Collection, Division de Younan Properties. Le Château du Petit Chêne est classé comme monument historique français et la cérémonie de pose de la première pierre a eu lieu pour marquer le début des travaux qui devraient être terminés en avril 2018. C'est la première fois qu'une entreprise américaine reconstruit totalement un château historique en France. Zaya S. Younan, Président de la Younan Collection, a commenté cet événement historique : " Aujourd'hui marque le début de plusieurs mois d'efforts intenses pour reconstruire ce château, monument national français, pierre par pierre, sous la supervision du bureau des Architectes des Bâtiments de France (ABF). Notre but est de respecter l'histoire de ce beau château pour que les gens puissent en profiter encore pendant des siècles. Une fois la reconstruction terminée, le Château du Petit Chêne sera le premier golf-hôtel resort 4 étoiles de la région qui, riche de son héritage restauré et de toute l'élégance des époques passées, embrassera les standards de luxe et de confort que les voyageurs attendent aujourd'hui. Nous faisons un investissement important dans le château. En plus de reconstruire et de moderniser les chambres et les espaces communs, nous allons créer un restaurant gastronomique, une cave à cigares et à cognacs, une cave à vin de 250 000 bouteilles ainsi qu'un tout nouveau Spa. " Le Château du Petit Chêne se trouve au cœur de 165 hectares d'un parc boisé, de lacs et d'un spectaculaire parcours de golf 18 trous, à Mazières-en-Gâtine, en Poitou-Charentes. Il fait partie de l'un des domaines les plus prestigieux de France. Construit par la famille Vialt au début des années 1600, le château a eu seulement trois propriétaires depuis. Le dernier avait commencé une rénovation du château pour le transformer en un hôtel de luxe, mais a dû abandonner les travaux. La Younan Collection a fait l'acquisition du château et du parcours de golf en octobre 2015 et a commencé à restaurer avec soin les éléments intérieurs et extérieurs, en ajoutant de nouvelles suites de luxe, en proposant un restaurant repensé et une cave à vin spectaculaire. En mars 2016, alors que les rénovations étaient presque achevées, l'hôtel a été cependant victime d'un incendie catastrophique qui a dû conclure à sa fermeture. L'équipe de la Younan Collection a travaillé en étroite collaboration avec le bureau de l'ABF pour s'assurer que la reconstruction soit fidèle à l'héritage du Château du Petit Chêne. Le cabinet d'architectes Chevalier + Guillemot a été également choisi pour son expérience dans la réhabilitation de monuments historiques. Robert Berthet a conçu de façon magistrale le terrain du Golf du Petit Chêne qui restera ouvert au public pendant la durée des travaux, superbement installé parmi un paysage boisé et de nombreux lacs. En plus d'un parcours de 18 trous, il dispose d'un pitch & putt de 6 trous, d'un driving range, d'une pro shop, de vestiaires et d'un restaurant. Des joueurs pros proposent aussi des cours privés individuels. Zaya Younan explique que le Château du Petit Chêne est un exemple de l'esthétique de la marque Younan Collection, qui possède un portefeuille unique d'hôtels de luxe et de destinations uniques à travers le monde. " Notre mission est d'offrir à chacun de nos visiteurs une attention unique. Tout le monde mérite d'être traité comme un roi et nous sommes persuadés qu'une fois achevé, le Château du Petit Chêne proposera à ses clients une expérience inégalée dans la vie de château. " La Grande Maison Younan Collection est la filiale internationale de Younan Properties pour ses acquisitions en Europe. La Younan Collection se spécialise dans l'acquisition de châteaux-hôtels historiques et de propriétés de luxe dans les domaines de l'hôtellerie, du golf et du bien-être dans toute l'Europe. En 2015, Younan Collection a acquis son premier château hôtelier et parcours de golf, le Château du Petit Chêne et le Golf du Petit Chêne à Mazières-en-Gâtine, en Poitou-Charentes. Pour obtenir des renseignements ou effectuer une réservation auprès d'un établissement de la Younan Collection, envoyez un courriel à email@example.com ou contactez www.younancollection.com.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Primark has joined luxury brands such as Burberry in enjoying a boost in sales from tourists drawn by the cheap pound. Sales at the cut-price fashion chain’s two stores in Oxford Street, central London, were up 10% in the six months to 4 March as the UK’s premier high street benefitted from an influx of bargain-hunting visitors, particularly from China. That compares with a 2% rise in sales at established stores for the group over the period. John Bason, finance director of Primark’s parent company Associated British Foods, said Oxford Street had been partly helped by a near 40% extension of its store at the eastern end of the street but this had only been in operation for half the period. “Increased footfall in Oxford Street with tourists was a big driver. All you need to do is look on the street and you can see it,” he said. Bason said there had been no noticeable impact on consumer spending in the UK since Brexit and that “not a lot” of expected price rises were feeding through on clothing. Although the fall in the value of the pound against the dollar, which is used to buy the bulk of the UK’s clothing from far eastern suppliers, was large Bason said it was being offset by efficiencies in the supply chain. “I think price rises will be later and less than people think because [businesses] are working hard on this,” Bason said. Primark has vowed to take a hit on profits if needed to keep prices low. ABF expects Primark’s sales over the half year to be 11% ahead of last year at constant currency rates, driven by increased retail selling space. With more than half the chain now overseas, the company said total sales would be 21% ahead at actual exchange rates – boosted by the increase in the value of the euro and the dollar against the pound. Sales at established stores for the group were level but, mainly held back by a decline in the Netherlands, where older stores have been affected by the opening of new Primark outlets. The company expects to open 300,000 sq ft of space in the next quarter with new outlets in Uxbridge in the UK; Charleroi in Belgium; Granada in Spain; Zwolle in the Netherlands and Staten Island in the US, as well as an extension to the Downtown Crossing store in Boston, Primark’s first store in the US in 2015.
News Article | February 27, 2017
FORT SMITH, Ark., Feb. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- ArcBestSM Nasdaq: ARCB is pleased to announce the employee training program operated by less-than-truckload carrier ABF Freight® placed 13th among Training magazine's Training Top 125, which ranks companies' excellence in...