News

United Community Banks Selling 22.5% Stake

United Community Banks Inc. (NASDAQ:UCBI) have seen shares rise this morning over 25%. Shares have climbed more than $.40 to over $1.90 on more than 2.8 million shares traded. This is three times the normal daily volume of .9 million shares. This large increase in UCBI’s shares is due to announcement of UCBI’s intent to sell a stake of the company.

United Community Banks Inc is looking to sell a one quarter stake in the company(approx 22.5%) for $380 million while offloading $435 million in bad assets to help shore up the balance sheet. UCBI will sell a combination of both common and preferred shares to a group of institutional investors and a partner of Corsair Capital. Such a large stake in the company will give the buying group a seat on the board.

If Corsair Capital and its group of institutional investors are able to purchase this stake before UCBI fails they will be able to avoid rules governing private equity firms buying failed banks that U.S. Bank Regulators have on place. This marks another occasion where private equity firms like Corsair Capital step in to bail out financial institution when traditional funding sources dried up.

About United Community Banks, Inc.
United Community Banks operates as the bank holding company for United Community Bank that provides retail and corporate banking services. Its deposit product line includes interest-bearing and non interest bearing deposits, NOW accounts, money market accounts, checking accounts, savings deposits, time deposits, and brokered deposits.

Flotek Announces 2010 Fiscal Results

Flotek Industries, Inc (NYSE:FTK) is showing strong gains this morning with common shares soaring up over 25% and is currently trading at $6.60. As the midday trading hours approach, FTK has already seen 1.7 million shares traded, eclipsing the average daily volume of 1.6 million shares over the last few months.

This large increase is due in large part to the release of 2010 financial results for Flotek Industries, Inc. FTK reported 2010 revenue increased from $112.6 million in 2009 to $147 million in 2010 or a 30% increase. Revenue increased across the company’s segments due to improved pricing, industry demand, and increased drilling activity.

One of the main reasons for these increases in revenue is the fact that Flotek has refocused the company’s international marketing efforts. Since the beginning of 2010, Flotek has completed multiple international jobs including jobs in Turkey, Poland, and the Paris Basin.

About Flotek Industries, Inc.
The company supplies drilling and production related products and services to the energy and mining industries in the United States and internationally. It operates in three segments: Chemicals and Logistics, Drilling Products, and Artificial Lift.

Universal Display Corp. Q4 and 2010 Results

Upon release of 2010 full year and Q4 fiscal results shares of Universal Display Corporation(NASDAQ:PANL) soared up over 14% and up $5.50 per share heading into the lunch hour with over 1.6 million shares traded. This is four times the average amount of daily volume PANL is accustomed to seeing.

Revenues from Q4 were nearly $10.8 Million which was more than double the 2009 Q4 results of $4.8 Million. The main increase in revenue was due in large part to increases in both commercial chemical sales and developmental revenue. Universal Display Corporation reported an operating loss of $210,276 in Q4 which is a $4 million dollar improvement over where the company sat at the end of Q4 2009.

Sidney D. Rosenblatt, Executive Vice President and CFO of Universal Display, was quoted as saying “With revenues for the year almost doubling, fiscal 2010 may well be regarded as the year PHOLED technology officially migrated out of the laboratory and into the lives of millions of consumers. The appetite for bright, beautiful and more energy efficient and environmentally friendly displays is creating strong demand for the use of OLEDs in a variety of applications. In 2011, manufacturers are expected to add capacity, enabling this technology to be enjoyed more widely by consumers everywhere. To further leverage our extensive intellectual property assets and create value for our shareholders, we are actively pursuing opportunities in the small and large format display markets, as well as the general lighting market where our technology can demonstrably improve OLED performance and efficiency.”

A conference was scheduled in conjunction with this press release and will be held Tuesday March 29, 2011 you can access the call via Universal Display’s event portion of their website.

Lucas Energy, Inc. Acquires Interest in Well

Lucas Energy, Inc. (AMEX:LEI) saw shares rise this morning up over $.50 at one point. This morning’s share increase of over 15% comes on the news that LEI has acquired an interest in the ARCO Fee A-908 No.1 well. The well is back in production after being shutdown during LEI’s acquisition of it.

In a partial month of production in January the well produced 5,791 thousand cubic feet of natural gas and 371 barrels of condensate. This marks a new venture for the Houston based independent oil and gas company. William A. Sawyer, President and CEO of Lucas Energy, Inc, stated “Lucas energy is expanding its area of interest to include other leases along the same trend it is currently developing, this is Lucas Energy’s first gas well.”

Lucas Energy, Inc has another well located in the same area of the Austin Chalk Formation.  This second well has yet to be evaluated however Lucas Energy Inc does have a 50% working interest after payout in the two wells.

About Lucas Energy, Inc.

The company acquires low producing or abandoned oil wells with underlying potential. Lucas Energy currently has acreage in the fast growing Eagle Ford Trend in Central Texas. Lucas Energy’s business plan is to acquire wells at low cost, improve the production in the wells, and develop upside potential with joint venture partners.

Housing Industry Takes Another Hit

New home construction saw a 22.5 percent decline in February from January. This decline came as a surprise to investors following a surge in apartment construction in January. This is just the latest evidence that the housing industry is still many years away from recovery. Only 479,000 were being built in February compared to the 600,000 in January according to the Commerce Department. This is the lowest level since April 2009 and the second-lowest in over a 50 years.

The main area of home construction, which is single-family homes, were down 11.8 percent in February. Construction of apartments and condominiums dropped 47%, taking out much of the gains in January. Building permits also fell 8.1 percent last month to the lowest levels since 1960.

Here’s a breakdown of the drop in home construction across the country.

Midwest – 48.6%
Northeast – 37.5%
West – 28%
South- 6.3%

The National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday that they have rated March a 17 on its index of industry sentiment. This is up from 16, where it has been for the past 5 months, but isn’t really good news though since any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing industry’s future. The last time the index was above 50 was April 2006.

Williams-Sonoma Inc. Reports 28% Increase in Q4 Income

Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE:WSM) common shares rose over 10% heading into the midday trading hours. WSM shares have climbed over $3.50 per share on nearly 3 million shares traded this morning. These solid earnings are due in large part to the release of Williams-Sonoma Inc’s Q4 earnings press release.

During the fourth quarter last year WSM earned $113.4 million or $1.05 per share up from $88.4 or $.81 a share from Q4 of 2009.  While besting Wallstreet revenue estimates by nearly 10% as online sales increased 27%. Williams-Sonoma also showed strong revenue increase across the board at retail outlets open at least a year(11%), including Pottery Barn stores(8.9%) and Pottery Barn Kids(4.6%).

Williams-Sonoma annual revenue rose 13% to $3.5 billion in 2010 up from $3.1 billion in 2009. Analysts predict another strong year for the San Francisco based company including full year earnings of $2.11 per share and a revenue of nearly $3.65 billion.

About Williams-Sonoma
The company is a San Francisco based home products company that features several subsidiary brands including Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm, and its own name sake stores

Impax Laboratories Inc. Showing Strong Gains Today

Impax Laboratories Inc (NASDAQ:IPXL) are showing a surge of over 10%  today rising over $2.80 to nearly $25 per share on over 3.5 million share traded by the midday trading hour. This is 5 times the average daily volume for IPXL shares.

This surge come on the news that Impax Laboratories Inc. proposed Parkinson’s drug (Candidate IPX066) met key treatment goals when compared to carbipoda-levopoda. IPX066 is an extended release version of its counterpart the immediate release carbipoda-levopoda. The IPX066 study focused on patients with varying degrees of fluctuations in motor function.

Impax Laboratories Inc. is also expected to discuss Advance-PD Phase-III study for in the treatment of Advanced Parkinson’s Disease. A Conference call was scheduled for this morning Tuesday March, 15 2011 at 9:00 AM Eastern to discuss these future studies.

About Impax Laboratories Inc.
The company operates in two divisions Global Pharmaceuticals and Impax Pharmaceuticals.  The Global Pharmaceuticals division develops, manufactures, and sells, and distributes generic pharmaceutical products to a variety of retail drug chains. The Imapx Pharmaceuticals division develops drugs that address the central nervous system.

Kirby Corp Buys K-Sea for $335 Million

The acquisition of K-Sea Transportation (NYSE:KSP) by Kirby Corp (NYSE:KEX) sent shares of K-Sea Transportation skyward. Intraday trading brought KSP shares up over $1.50 (25%) on nearly 3.7 million shares and closed the day up $1.70 (26.28%). Kirby Corp shares rose $1.00 up a modest 1.8% to $56.33 by the close of the market. Kirby Corp also saw an intra day high of $60.00 a share and an intra day low of $55.12.

Kirby Corp, a Houston, TX based company, will also assume and refinance $265 million of KSP debt bringing the total value of the deal to $600 Million dollars. KSP shareholders will have the option to receive $8.15 in cash per common stock  or $4.075 in cash and 0.0734 shares of Kirby Corp common stock. This represents a 26% gain from where KSP common shares closed on Friday March 11, 2011.

Kirby Corp will be adding another 121 Vessels to its already impressive staple of 1149 vessels. K-Sea will operate as a subsidiary of Kirby Corp and will maintain K-Sea’s current management staff.

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