Skip to main content

Charleston Business

The Business Narrative: Economic Indicator

Nov 09, 2022 01:31PM ● By David Dykes

Small Business Optimism Declines in October

Persistent price pressures have dimmed small business optimism, according to Wells Fargo economist Charlie Dougherty and economic analyst Patrick Barley.

In an economic report, the two said:

* The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index declined 0.8 points in October to 91.3.

* This marks the first decline in the headline index since June. However, persistent inflation, higher interest rates and economic uncertainty has kept the headline index below the 49-year average of 98 for 10 straight months.

* Inflation issues have endured, with 33 percent of firms identifying inflation as their single most important problem in October. Firms appear most concerned about eroding profit margins from rising input costs.

* The share of firms reporting positive profit trends improved one percentage point over the month but remains relatively low. Of firms reporting lower profits, 34 percent blamed the loss in profits on rising material costs, 22 percent blamed weaker sales and 12 percent blamed rising labor costs.

* The net percent of firms reporting higher selling prices fell one percentage point to a net 50 percent. While still elevated, this is the fifth straight monthly decline in this component, indicating inflation drivers may be softening.

* Current compensation plans softened slightly, falling one point to a net 44 percent. That noted, a rising share of firms reported intentions to raise compensation in the months ahead.

* Businesses planning to raise compensation over the next three months jumped from a net 23 percent to 32 percent in October. This is the largest month-to-month jump on records dating back to 1986. The jump in compensation plans sets up the possibility of rising wages placing further upward pressure on inflation.

* Plans to increase employment fell three percentage points to a net 20 percent, reflecting some moderation in terms of labor demand. Although hiring plans have cooled from the all-time high of 32 percent seen in August 2021, hiring plans are still relatively strong even as firms increasingly cite a deteriorating economic outlook.

* Ten percent of firms reported labor costs as their most important problem, and 23 percent cited labor quality as their chief issue.

* Optimism about what lies ahead continued to slip.

* Firms continue to feel the impact of disjointed supply chains. In October, 90 percent of respondents reported supply chains having an adverse impact on their business.

* Even as firms struggle with supply issues, a net zero percent of respondents reported inventories being too low.

* This is the first time since June 2020 that the component has dropped out of positive territory as firms have had a chance to let inventories build in the first half of 2022.

Farmland Partners Announces Senior Executive Succession Plan

Farmland Partners Inc. (NYSE: FPI) announced that its board of directors approved a senior executive succession plan pursuant to which the company’s president, Luca Fabbri, will become chief executive officer, effective following the filing of the company’s annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2022.

That is is expected to occur in late February 2023.

At the same time, Fabbri will join the company’s board of directors. FPI’s current chairman and chief executive officer, Paul Pittman, will remain as executive chairman of the company’s board of directors and as a full-time employee.

Company officials said Pittman and Fabbri will continue to work side-by-side to formulate corporate strategy, execute the company’s growth plan and drive shareholder value.

Fabbri co-founded FPI as a public company with Pittman in 2014 and served as the company’s chief financial officer and treasurer from the company’s inception, before assuming the position of president in October 2021.

Prior to co-founding FPI, Fabbri was an entrepreneur and executive in finance, technology, and agriculture. He has a bachelor’s degree with honors in economics from the University of Naples (Italy) and an M.B.A. in finance from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Farmland Partners Inc. is an internally managed real estate company that owns and seeks to acquire high-quality North American farmland and makes loans to farmers secured by farm real estate.

As of Nov. 8, 2022, the company owned and/or managed more than 190,000 acres in 18 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

The company elected to be taxed as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, commencing with the taxable year ended Dec. 31, 2014. 

F.N.B. Corporation Updates Overdraft Practices

F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE: FNB) said it is making important changes to its overdraft practices that company officials say further benefit customers of its banking subsidiary, First National Bank.

In conjunction with FNB's digital tools, products and focus on financial education, the updates are designed to promote positive banking behaviors, prevent overdrafts and better enable customers to reasonably avoid fees, the officials said.

Expected to be effective in the first quarter of 2023, FNB plans to implement multiple updates, including eliminating continuous overdraft fees; reducing overdraft and non-sufficient funds (NSF), or returned item, fees; and decreasing the maximum number of times customers can be charged these fees in a single day.

Along with other depository transaction processing changes, the company said it also will ensure customers do not incur overdraft fees for transactions that are $5 or less.

Overall, FNB's anticipated changes are expected to reduce overdraft-related fees assessed to customers by approximately $10 million (pre-tax) on a full-year basis.

Complementing these changes, FNB said it will launch two new products in 2023 that give customers additional cash flow flexibility and expanded tools to strengthen their financial management skills:

* A short-term, small-dollar loan solution that enables eligible accountholders to use FNB's digital tools to apply for and quickly receive funds.

With online and mobile access to credit to fill urgent financial gaps, FNB's new small-dollar loan product will aim to help customers reduce fees and provide an alternative to expensive, nontraditional loan options, company officials said.

* The FNB Smart Secured consumer credit card for customers looking to establish or improve credit. A cash deposit into an FNB savings account is used to secure the card, with the amount of the deposit set as the card's credit limit.

Company officials said the savings account is held as collateral, so FNB can enable customers, including those with no credit or low credit scores, the opportunity to demonstrate responsible financial management habits and build or repair their credit over time.

F.N.B. Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is a diversified financial services company operating in seven states and the District of Columbia. 

FNB's market coverage spans several major metropolitan areas, including: Pittsburgh, Pa.; Baltimore, Md.; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham and the Piedmont Triad (Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point) in North Carolina; and Charleston, S. 

The company has total assets of nearly $43 billion and approximately 340 banking offices throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

ScanSource Announces Retirement of Mike Grainger From Board of Directors

ScanSource, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCSC), a leading hybrid distributor connecting devices to the cloud, announced the upcoming retirement of Mike Grainger from its board of directors.

Grainger, who has served as a director of ScanSource since 2004, will retire from the board when his current term of office expires effective at ScanSource’s next Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Jan. 26, 2023.

“Mike has been an invaluable member of our Board for nearly 20 years. His in-depth knowledge of the distribution industry, as well as his strong financial and accounting acumen have served ScanSource well,” said Mike Baur, ScanSource’s chairman and CEO.

“I personally want to thank him for his insight, support, leadership and humor. We all wish him well in his retirement.”

With Grainger’s retirement, the ScanSource board of directors will consist of eight members.

Allow us to tell your company's Business Narrative. Send your press release to David Dykes or for more information email [email protected]