Thursday, January 20,2005
Classified ads---Leasing Industry Attorneys
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Classified ads---Leasing Industry Attorneys
California - statewide: CA "ELA"
California - statewide: Encino, CA. "ELA"
Connecticut, Southern New England:
Law Firm - Service, Dallas, TX. ELA
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Los Angeles, CA.
Long Beach CA.
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Pictures from the Past---1993 Patrick E. Byrne, CLP
“Balboa Capital Corporation is the 67 th fastest growing private company in the U.S., according to Inc. Magazine.”
The Balboa Bulletin, October, 1993
Classified Ads---Help Wanted
Account Representative & Inside Sales Manager
Business Development Officer
Middle Market Sales Representative
Business Channel Manager / National Sales Manager/ Small Ticket Leasing Sales People
National Accounts Manager
Failed telecom's chief files Chap. 11
By MARTHA McKAY
Peter J. Salzano, CEO of the Newark telecommunications company at the center of a nationwide equipment leasing scandal, is facing personal bankruptcy.
The Morris County resident filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, listing debts of more than $1 million, according to court papers.
Salzano's defunct company, NorVergence, has been accused by federal and state officials, including New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey, of defrauding as many as 11,000 small businesses across the country.
In connection with his company's collapse, Salzano has been named in several lawsuits that contend he is liable for NorVergence's outstanding bills, which total in the millions.
Michael Sirota, Salzano's lawyer, said his client isn't liable for those corporate debts, "but he needs the opportunity to address [the claims] in one forum in an orderly fashion."
NorVergence filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in July. The company's abrupt end left its customers without phone, Internet or cell service, and with virtually worthless "Matrix" boxes that NorVergence had said would deliver deeply discounted service.
NorVergence typically signed up customers for five-year Matrix leases and then sold the agreements to more than two dozen leasing companies. Although NorVergence stopped service, most of the leasing companies continued to bill customers and, in many cases, sued them for non-payment. Some leasing companies have offered settlements.
Salzano's personal filing lists 20 creditors, but only six include dollar amounts.
Those total $1.14 million, including $362,000 charged to an American Express corporate card and a claim of more than $681,000 related to a lawsuit filed in state court by De Lage Landen Financial Services, a company that bought leases from NorVergence.
Sirota said the De Lage Landen lawsuit argues that Salzano signed a personal guarantee on the loans. Sirota said his client has been fighting that claim.
"Someone at NorVergence used a [signature] stamp with Peter's name on it," Sirota said.
The largest debt Salzano faces could be to the Internal Revenue Service. The company's bankruptcy papers, which like Salzano's personal filing are in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark, say NorVergence owes more than $6 million in unpaid corporate income taxes.
Sirota acknowledged that the IRS "is the largest disputed claim." Salzano, as CEO, could be personally liable for those taxes if NorVergence, the corporation, is unable to pay.
Court records show that at the time of its bankruptcy, NorVergence had $53.6 million in assets and $87.3 million in debts. The company currently has less than $1 million in the bank, according to the bankruptcy trustee.
Salzano's personal bankruptcy filing will stop court proceedings against him, at least temporarily.
Among other cases, he faces fines levied by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, which accuses NorVergence and him of violating that state's consumer fraud act.
Salzano's bankruptcy court papers also list $28,889.53 in personal credit-card debt, and more than $70,000 owed on student loans he co-signed for two nephews.
Salzano also runs Fairfield-based Network Digital Office Systems, a copier rental company that did business with NorVergence. Salzano's brother Thomas N. Salzano ran NorVergence, according to employee accounts, but was paid as a consultant and called himself chief managing officer.
(Not mentioned in the bankruptcy filings, but surely to be included, is the probe regarding five days before the June 30 court action, NorVergence managed to wire more than $160,000 to two related companies, according to court papers.
One, Network Digital Office Systems, is run by NorVergence Chief Executive Peter Salzano. The other, Data Solutions, provided the consulting services of Salzano's brother, Thomas, to NorVergence.
It is Thomas N. Salzano who was supposedly “the brains” behind the company. He allegedly had a bankruptcy from a similar “scam” and could not be named as president.
Alex Wolf was the Chief Operation Officer, the person with the telecom sales background, and Robert J. Fine, reportedly president of NorVergence Capital and the one who arranged the “private label” contracts and placement of leases. Editor.)
What Lessors Are Saying About…Trucks and Trailers Marketplace
Truck and trailer equipment leasing has been steadily rebounding as the market continues in its upward cycle. the Equipment Leasing Association asked its members what factors are driving the market and how they anticipate future performance in this segment.
Mike Pilot, GE Commercial Finance, said the next few years are expected to be strong growth years for the commercial truck and transportation equipment industry. He said, “The market has finally overcome the major down cycle that we endured between 2001-2003, and we envision continued strength through 2006 as the domestic economy continues to function on a solid footing.”
Pilot said that GE Commercial's overall outlook for the For Hire market is bright, as customers will need to expand their fleets as well as replace a large number of older trucks. He said, “In fact, for 2005, we should see between 250,000 and 260,000 trucks produced, which will represent one of the strongest markets in history.”
Pilot cited additional factors that will affect the truck and trailer leasing market. He said GE is finding that the scheduled engine change for 2007 is coming into play now. Pilot explained, “There was a concern about a high number of pre-buys, but the market dip may be far less than expected -- down 20 to 25 percent as opposed to the anticipated 50 percent.” On bonus depreciation, he said that it probably caused a small pre-buy last year, but GE doesn't anticipate it being much of a factor in 2005.
On fuel prices, Pilot said they “can have the tendency to keep us up at night on occasion,” though he added that they don't seem to be having a major effect on the market right now. One reason he cited is that capacity is so tight that surcharges are going through with little to no issue at all. He said, “Despite affecting cash flow slightly, customers are getting their money back and find themselves in less of a cash-strapped position than we saw in the 2002 time period.” He said that as prices dramatically rise, this can wreak havoc with the market, but added, “As long as capacity stays up and the economy is strong, this shouldn't be an issue.”
Dan Clark, CitiCapital Commercial Corporation, cited the potential of this market in comments regarding recently announced plans by GE Commercial Finance to acquire CitiCapital's Transportation Financial Services Group (CTFSG). He said, “Perhaps there is no better indicator of the tremendous opportunity that this market holds than the recent acquisition of our business by GE.”
CTFSG, which was a subsidiary of Citigroup, finances approximately 196,000 heavy and medium duty commercial trucks and trailers through a variety of customer channels, including truck and trailer dealers, commercial fleets and truck owners/operators. Clark added, “GE Commercial Finance has been in the transportation financing business for years, and sought out a business that has the ability to grow, as well as take advantage of these positive market conditions. With the outlook as bright as we anticipate, we expect to deliver excellent results for GE.”
Roy Keller, CIT Equipment Finance, said an improving economy and a strong upswing in construction activity are clearly driving increased demand for vocational trucks. He cited the 2005 CIT Construction Industry Forecast (available at www.cit.com), which reported that contractors said they were optimistic about the prospects for their business and the industry as a whole for 2005. Keller said, “That positive mindset translates into increased demand for vocational trucks; 37 percent of the contractors in our survey said they plan to acquire a truck in 2005, compared to 31 percent a year ago.” For the 10th consecutive year, CIT's survey found more contractors planning to acquire trucks than any other type of equipment. Keller added, “As demand rises, we see manufacturers are requiring longer lead times and there is less room for negotiation on the purchase price.”
Keller noted the many financing options available to contractors acquiring vocational trucks. “Many contractors establish a line of revolving credit, which lets them tap into the equity in their existing equipment fleet,” he said. “We are also seeing a slight increase in the number of construction companies that choose to lease rather than purchase trucks and other equipment.” Keller said that while interest rates continue to be at very affordable levels, many contractors expect them to rise in 2005. As a result, they are locking in current rates by choosing fixed-rate rather than floating-rate loans and leases when they acquire equipment.
Loni Lowder, ACC Capital Corporation, noted that demand for truck and trailer leasing in 2004 increased even though fuel costs skyrocketed. He said that tax-affected TRAC transactions were lower due to the high amount of corporate liquidity and the desire of lessees to keep tax benefits provided through bonus depreciation. Lowder added, “With bonus depreciation coming to an end, we look forward to a strong increase in truck and trailer lease transactions both tax and non-tax.”
Tom Klassen, Associated Bank Leasing, said that while his firm does some truck and trailer leasing, it's on a very small scale compared to other lessors. He said, “We have been very encouraged by the increase in truck and trailer activity as well as well as stronger credit quality. We are anticipating this trend to continue through 2005.”
Arnie Goldberg, Center Capital Corporation, was similarly optimistic, as he recounted a strong 2004 with large, medium and small companies returning to a level of profitability not seen since 1999. Goldberg said, “From 2002 to 2003, approximately 11,000 trucking companies went out of business. We have a scenario with more freight than trucks, so companies are able to pass along many increased expenses.”
Goldberg cited a number of factors that have driven the truck and trailer market in the past: a cyclical downturn in trucking that started a year before 9/11, increased fuel costs, a shortage of qualified drivers, and sharp increases in insurance costs.
Going forward, Goldberg believes transportation will remain stable and strong, though a lot will depend on the economy. Companies will still have to manage all costs. Various technological advancements, such as improved GTS tracking, are enabling better management control.
Goldberg believes that transportation has come back into favor with bank lenders who are now competing with equipment lessors for tier one trucking companies. He said, “Lenders at commercial banks seem to fall back in love with transportation as trucking companies go through this regular cyclical improvement.”
Ted Brownrigg, Orion First Financial, LLC, said his firm deals in the small ticket segment of truck leasing rather than the long haul over-the-road vehicles. He has seen their market, which includes dump trucks, delivery trucks and construction-use trucks perform well. Brownrigg said, "Our outlook is good. Since we're small ticket, we
haven't had the same issues that larger truck and trailer lessors have had to contend with. I think we'll continue to do the kinds of deals we've done in the past as well as additional ones."
Note: ELA's Construction Survey also is available at www.elaonline.com/store and search for “construction and agricultural equipment leasing 2004.”
Housing Market Has Loggers Yelling “Timber”
----19 million houses over in the next ten years...16% increase over previous decade----
by Tony Halstead
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Over the last several years, the U.S. housing market has been booming. In October 2004,privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.0 million units, a31-percent increase compared to 2000. Demand has primarily been driven by low interest rates, which decreased from 8.1 percent in 2000 to 5.8 percent in November 2004 for 30-year fixed mortgage rates. When rates were as high as 10.1 percent in 1990, housing starts were just 1.2 million.
Housing starts drive softwood lumber and structural panel consumption. On average, housing starts consume an impressive 43 percent of the U.S. softwood lumber supply and 54 percent of the structural panel supply. While the short-term outlook for housing demand depends primarily on interest rates and the strength of the economy, demographic trends offer a glimpse of longer-term trends.
Over the next ten years, robust housing demand is expected to continue due to strong household growth, longer life expectancies and increased immigration. These forces will contribute to the likely building of an additional 19 million houses over in the next ten years, representing a 16-percent increase over the 16.3 million houses built over the previous decade. The house remodeling and repair industry consumes an additional 31 percent of the U.S. softwood lumber supply and 21 percent of the structural panel supply. In first quarter 2004, expenditures for improvements and repairs were on pace to hit $200 billion for the year. Ten years ago, these expenditures totaled just $125 billion. Improvements and repair expenditures are expected to remain strong because over 48 percent of existing homes were built before 1970.
As homeowners repair these older homes, newer homes are being built larger. Houses built in 1970 averaged 1,600 square feet compared to houses built in 2003, which averaged 2,330 square feet. All of the factors mentioned above argue for continued high prices, but open access to imports has helped temper prices while providing a robust market for domestic products.
For more information, contact Tony Halstead at 202-720-1592 firstname.lastname@example.org
Fed January Beige Report
Economic analysts are predicting that the Fed probably will boost a key short-term interest rate by one-quarter percentage point — to 2.50% — at that time.
Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve districts indicated that economic activity continued to expand from late November through early January. Eleven districts characterized activity as expanding with Atlanta, New York, and Richmond noting that the pace of activity had quickened since their last reports. The Cleveland District was less upbeat, characterizing economic activity in that district as mixed.
KEY EQUIPMENT FINANCE NAMES RICHARD TINNON SENIOR
SUPERIOR, CO. –– Key Equipment Finance, one of the nation's largest bank-affiliated equipment financing companies and an affiliate of KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY), has announced the appointment of Richard Tinnon as senior vice president and chief financial officer. His office is located at Key Equipment Finance's world headquarters outside Boulder, Colorado. Mr. Tinnon will replace John Pfeiffenberger, who will hold the position until he retires at the end of March.
“Rich comes to Key Equipment Finance with nearly 20 years of financial services industry experience,” said Paul A. Larkins, president and chief executive officer, Key Equipment Finance. “I am delighted to be able to bring such top tier talent to our organization.”
Prior to joining Key Equipment Finance, Mr. Tinnon served as director of financial planning and analysis for Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, California. Previously, Mr. Tinnon spent 16 years with GATX Capital in San Francisco, where he held a series of positions with increasing responsibility; when he left GATX, he was vice president and chief of staff. Mr. Tinnon had also been an auditor at Touche Ross and Co. (now Deloitte and Touche).
Mr. Tinnon earned his bachelor of arts degree from Michigan State University and his masters in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley.
Key Equipment Finance is an affiliate of KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) and provides business-to-business equipment financing solutions to businesses of many types and sizes. The company focuses on four distinct markets:
Headquartered outside Boulder, Colorado, Key Equipment Finance manages a $12 billion equipment portfolio with annual originations of approximately $5 billion. The company has major management and operations bases in Toronto, Ontario; Albany, New York; London, England; and Sydney, Australia. The company, which operates in 25 countries and employs 1,100 people worldwide, has been in the equipment financing business for more than 30 years. Additional information regarding Key Equipment Finance, its products and services can be obtained online at KEFonline.com.
Cleveland-based KeyCorp (NYSE: KEY) is one of the nation's largest bank- based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $88 billion. Key companies provide investment management, retail and commercial banking, consumer finance, and investment banking products and services to individuals and companies throughout the United States and, for certain businesses, internationally. The company's businesses deliver their products and services through KeyCenters and offices; a network of nearly 2,200 ATMs; telephone banking centers (1.800.KEY2YOU); and a Web site, Key.com(R), that provides account access and financial products 24 hours a day.
Lisa A. Miller, Corporate Development
The Bank of New York Company, Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter EPS of 45 Cents, up 13% over Last Year; Year 2004 EPS of $1.85, up 22%; Sequential Quarter Securities Servicing Revenue up 8%
NEW YORK-----The Bank of New York Company, Inc. (NYSE:BK) reports fourth quarter net income of $351 million and diluted earnings per share of 45 cents, compared with net income of $354 million and diluted earnings per share of 46 cents in the third quarter of 2004, and net income of $307 million and diluted earnings per share of 40 cents in the fourth quarter of 2003. Full year net income for 2004 was $1,440 million, or $1.85 diluted earnings per share, compared to $1,157 million, or $1.52 diluted earnings per share in 2003.
A charge related to a reserve for the cost of the anticipated settlement of the RW Professional Leasing Services Corp. matter ("RW Matter"), as well as certain items detailed in "Other Fourth Quarter Developments" reduced EPS by 3 cents for the fourth quarter and full year 2004. Fourth quarter and full year 2003 results included merger and integration costs associated with the Pershing acquisition of 4 cents and 8 cents per share while the full year also included 7 cents per share related to the GMAC settlement.
Fourth quarter highlights include strong performance in securities servicing fees and foreign exchange and other trading revenues. Securities servicing fees increased 8% sequentially in the fourth quarter to $742 million, reflecting more active equity markets and the conversion of new business wins. Execution and clearing services revenues increased 15% sequentially, reflecting a strong rebound in equity market volumes from the weak third quarter. Issuer services fees increased 6% relative to the third quarter to $149 million, reflecting strong results in depositary receipts, and modest growth in corporate trust. Investor services fees were up 5% sequentially, reflecting higher global funds services fees driven by new business wins. Foreign exchange and other trading revenues increased 34% sequentially, reflecting higher levels of client activity and an increase in volatility.
For the full year, the growth in earnings was paced by securities servicing growth of 19% (8% adjusted for full year impact of Pershing), core net interest income growth of 6%, strong credit performance, and higher than expected securities gains. Performance was strong across nearly all the Company's securities servicing businesses. Both investor and issuer services increased by 11%. The growth in investor services was driven largely by new business wins and improvements year-over-year in asset values and volumes. Issuer services benefited from increased cross-border activity in depositary receipts and improving market share in global products within corporate trust. Broker-dealer services was up 19% primarily due to strong growth in collateral management. In addition, private client services and asset management fees were up 17%, primarily due to exceptional growth at the Company fund of funds manager, Ivy Asset Management ("Ivy").
This strength in revenue was partially offset by upward pressure on the Company's expense base. Higher option and pension expenses, business continuity spending, costs associated with legal and regulatory matters, and costs associated with converting new business opportunities in investor services all contributed to higher expense levels.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas A. Renyi stated, "Our securities servicing and fiduciary businesses responded well to the better market environment this quarter, which improved considerably following the November elections. In particular, our equity-linked and foreign exchange businesses benefited from a significant rebound in market volumes and increased cross-border flows and volatility. Net interest income continues to benefit from a well positioned balance sheet and the credit environment remains highly favorable.
"We did experience a noticeable up tick in expenses as we recognized costs associated with the conversion of new outsourcing wins, hiring of customer service personnel in some of our faster growing businesses, higher incentive compensation in light of the sharp rebound in performance in the last two months of the quarter as well as continuing high costs associated with responding to regulatory inquiries.
"On balance, I am quite encouraged by our top line growth this quarter which gives evidence to the positive effect an improving investment environment has on our business model. We look forward to 2005 which should offer a stronger operating environment and the revenue momentum it brings along. Our challenge in the new year is to contain the more significant cost pressures we face in order to bring more of our revenue growth to the bottom line."
Interchange Financial Services Corporation Increases Quarterly Cash Dividend and Declares 3-for-2 Stock Split
---Interchange Capital Company, L.L.C., cost effective equipment leasing solutions are available to small- and middle market companies.
SADDLE BROOK, N.J----On January 18, 2005, Interchange Financial Services Corporation ("Interchange"), the holding company for Interchange Bank, declared a 3-for-2 stock split. The stock split will be payable on February 18, 2005 to holders of record as of February 2, 2005.
In addition, Interchange increased its quarterly dividend 8% to $0.135 per common share on a pre-split basis. The first quarter dividend will be payable on February 18, 2005, to holders of record as of January 31, 2005. Going forward, the dividend, adjusted for the stock split, will be $0.09 per quarter.
Anthony Abbate, president and CEO of the Corporation, stated, "The stock split is important to creating additional liquidity for shareholders and potential investors in the Company. As investors recognize the value of Interchange, it is critical that the amount of float available be adequate to enable any interested investors to acquire Interchange stock. I am also pleased to announce that this is the 11th consecutive yearly increase in our quarterly dividend rate."
Headquartered in Saddle Brook, NJ, Interchange Bank is one of Bergen County's largest independent commercial banks and a wholly owned subsidiary of Interchange Financial Services Corporation (Nasdaq:IFCJ). A thought leader in the industry, the Bank was among the first to implement a broad range of innovative services, including 24-hour, 7-day-a-week online banking and bill paying services, online stock trading, and the ability to apply for a loan online with an instant credit decision. Mutual funds and annuities are offered by ICBA Financial Services, through the Bank's investment department. With $1.5 billion in assets and 29 branches, the Bank focuses its efforts on the local communities from which it derives deposits and generates loans. Through Interchange Bank's subsidiary, Interchange Capital Company, L.L.C., cost effective equipment leasing solutions are available to small- and middle market companies. For additional information, please visit the company's Web site at www.interchangebank.com.
Keating & Co. Lauren Mackiel, 973-966-1100 email@example.com
Synovus Reports 15.7% Increase in Net Income and 13.0% Increase In Earnings per Share for Fourth Quarter 2004 Earnings per Share Increased 10.4% for the Full Year 2004
COLUMBUS, Ga.------ Financial Services Segment Reports Increases in Net Income of 18.7% for Fourth Quarter and 14.7% for Full Year 2004
Synovus'(NYSE:SNV) fourth quarter net income grew 15.7% over the fourth quarter 2003 to $118.7 million, which represented earnings per share growth of 13.0% to $.38 per share, Synovus' Chief Executive Officer James H. Blanchard announced today. For the full year, earnings per share increased 10.4% over 2003.
"Throughout 2004, the Synovus Financial Services segment provided the key drivers for growth in net income," said Blanchard. "Excellent credit quality, strong loan growth and fundamental margin expansion led the earnings momentum in the fourth quarter. Additionally, TSYS gained momentum in the quarter with the successful conversion of the Bank One portfolio and an excellent Christmas shopping season."
Return on assets was 1.91% and return on equity was 17.92% for the fourth quarter 2004, compared to 1.94% and 18.37%, respectively, in the same period last year. For the full year, return on assets was 1.88% and return on equity was 17.63% compared to 1.91% and 17.95%, respectively, in 2003. Shareholders' equity at December 31, 2004, was $2.64 billion, which represented a very strong 10.55% of quarter-end assets. Total assets ended the quarter at $25.0 billion, an increase of 15.7% from the same period last year.
Asset quality remained excellent. The net charge-off ratio was 0.27% compared to 0.43% for the fourth quarter of last year. For the year, the net charge-off ratio is 0.23% compared to 0.36% in 2003. The ratio of nonperforming assets to loans and other real estate decreased to 0.52% from 0.58% last year. The allowance for loan losses was 1.36% of loans, which provides coverage of 330% of nonperforming loans. The provision for loan losses covered net charge-offs by 1.63x for the quarter, and 1.83x for the full year.
Net interest income grew 13.5% over the same quarter last year, as total loans grew 18.3% (15.4% excluding acquisitions and divestitures) and Synovus began to realize the positive impact of increasing interest rates. During the fourth quarter, Synovus changed its accounting methodology for loan origination fees and costs on a prospective basis. The change was not material to Synovus' financial position, results of operations, or cash flows. The new methodology did however result in a decrease in loan fee income (a component of net interest income) with a corresponding decrease in personnel expense. For the fourth quarter, loan fee income decreased by $10.5 million compared to the third quarter. The decrease was primarily due to the change in methodology. Additionally, personnel expense for the fourth quarter reflects a reduction (deferral) of $9.2 million in loan origination costs also as a result of the change in methodology.
The net interest margin before fees was 3.98% for the quarter and 3.92% for the year, up from 3.92% and 3.90%, respectively, for the same periods in 2003. On a sequential quarter basis, the net interest margin before fees increased by 8 basis points, reflecting the positive benefit of the recent interest rate increases. The net interest margin after fees for the fourth quarter was 4.13% compared to 4.25% for the previous quarter. This decrease was primarily due to the aforementioned change in accounting methodology.
Net income for the Synovus Financial Services segment increased 18.7% over the fourth quarter of last year and 14.7% for the full year. Return on assets for this segment was 1.41% and return on equity was 17.09% for the quarter, compared to 1.39% and 17.07%, respectively, in the same period last year. Financial Services' non-interest income was up 6.4% in the quarter as compared to the same period last year. Credit card fees increased by 21% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period last year. Fiduciary and asset management fees - which include trust, financial planning and asset management fees - were up 8.9%, compared to the fourth quarter last year. Financial Services' non-interest expense was up 7.0% compared to the fourth quarter last year and down 1.9% compared to the third quarter of 2004. Financial Services' efficiency ratio was 50.5% for the quarter and 52.1% for the year, compared to 52.7% and 53.3%, respectively, in 2003.
TSYS reported net income of $43.0 million for the fourth quarter 2004 compared to $39.4 million last year. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter increased by 9.2% to $0.22, up from $0.20 last year. During the quarter, TSYS successfully completed the conversion of the Bank One portfolio, extended agreements with MBNA and First Tennessee, and was awarded a patent for TSYS ProphIT, its proprietary front-end workflow management system. TSYS announced yesterday that it was acquiring full ownership of Vital Processing Services. With the strength of TSYS' core services, over 47 million accounts remaining in the conversion pipeline, and the addition of Vital Processing Services, TSYS expects its net income growth to be in the 19 - 22% range for 2005.
Blanchard concluded, "Synovus exceeded its expectations for 2004 with the Financial Services segment maintaining excellent credit quality, improving margins, continuing strong loan growth, fee income growth, and continuing expense control. Additionally, TSYS met its expectations and realized many successes that will build foundations for future growth. As we look into 2005, one of the most exciting initiatives is our retail banking enhancement strategy. Through this new focus, we look to enhance the performance of our almost 300 branches or "stores" to deepen our customer relationships with our needs-based approach, complimented by modernized technology and merchandising, that will lead to more deposits and retail product sales. For 2005, we expect the economy will continue to expand, that short-term interest rates will continue to increase at least modestly towards more normal levels, the credit environment will remain favorable and that TSYS will perform within its range of guidance. Synovus will focus on growing deposits, managing loan growth, quality and mix, maintaining the margin, expanding fee income and continuing to refine our processes to improve efficiencies. Based on these assumptions, along with our excellent team members and strong balance sheet, we expect 12 - 15% earnings per share growth which equates to a range of $1.58 to $1.62 for 2005. This expectation includes the impact of stock option expense beginning in July 2005 and expense for new restricted stock awards beginning in the first quarter of 2005. The additional cost for both options and restricted stock awards represents approximately $0.03 per share for the full year 2005."
Synovus will host an earnings highlights conference call at 4:30 p.m. ET, on January 19, 2005. The conference call will be available in the Investor Relations section of www.synovus.com under the "Conference Calls and Webcasts" tab. Please log on 5-10 minutes ahead of the call time.
Synovus (NYSE:SNV) is a diversified financial services holding company with over $25 billion in assets based in Columbus, Georgia. Synovus provides integrated financial services including banking, financial management, insurance, mortgage and leasing services through 40 banks and other Synovus offices in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Tennessee; and electronic payment processing through an 81-percent stake in TSYS (NYSE:TSS), the world's largest third-party processor of international payments. Synovus has been named one of "The 100 Best Companies To Work For" in America by FORTUNE magazine, and has been recognized in its Hall of Fame for consecutive appearances on the list since its inception in 1998. In 2004, Synovus was also named as one of "America's Most Admired Companies".
See Synovus on the Web at www.synovus.com .
CIT Announces Diluted EPS of $0.95 for the Quarter, Up 32% from
* New business volume up 32% from prior year
Fitch: Oil Prices, Economic News Slow U.S. High Yield Market
Fitch Ratings-Chicago- After a strong start, the U.S. high yield market gave back some ground last week amid rising oil prices, negative fund flows, and more mixed economic news, according to Fitch Ratings' 'High Yield Market Weekly.' The modest decline in high yield compares to slight gains for U.S. Treasuries and the investment-grade sector. Weakness was most pronounced in the airline sector, with most Delta Air Lines issues retreating by five points or more.
The commentary is part of a new weekly Fitch newsletter focused exclusively on the high yield market. The newsletter will highlight Fitch's ratings actions in the high yield sector and provide a review and analysis of the previous week's trading activity, as well as commentary on key issues affecting the high yield market and issuers in the news.
The current and future editions of 'High Yield Market Weekly' are available on the Fitch Ratings web site at 'www.fitchratings.com'. The newsletter will be published every Monday. Fitch currently rates 79 of the top-100 high yield issuers and more than 130 total. Fitch is also active in the high yield loan market, evaluating more than 400 high yield loans in 2004.
Contact: Eric Tutterow +1-312-368-3218,
#### Press Release ####################
Price Index Rose 3.3% in '04, Highest in 4 Years
As Martha Stewart Does Time, Flush Times for Her Company
eBay Shocks The Street
Warren Buffett sees no way but down for US dollar
Northwest posts bigger-than-expected loss
33.5M Tune in for 'American Idol' Debut
Talks to Salvage N.H.L. Season Resume
49ers' Deal Is Package: Nostalgia and Nolan
Passion for success/Kraft knows how to turn around an NFL franchise
Hackett Resigns; Jets Roll Out Replacement
Temperatures not the only weather factor for Falcons
“Gimme that Wine”
Man buys nearly 125,000 bottles of wine at auction for $100
Are corks, corkscrews headed to history books?
Wente Vineyards to Donate Proceeds From Wine Sales to Tsunami Relief Efforts
Wine mergers pit passion, profit
New Hampshire---2nd Annual Winter Wine Spectacular
This Day in American History
1778 - Captain James Cook discovered Hawaii when he landed first at Waimea on Kauai Island. A graffiti marked plaque honors the spot, although the town has a statute of the famed explored, evidently not liked to this day by the islanders.
Super Bowl Champions This Date
1980 Pittsburgh Steelers
American Football Poem
You Must Not Quit
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,